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NY STATE GIRLS BASKETBALL: CORTLAND KNOCKS OFF NEWARK VALLEY IN REGIONAL CLASH (2023-03-11)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
SYRACUSE — Newark Valley knew Cortland might put up a formidable defensive effort in Saturday’s NYSPHSAA Class B Girls Basketball playoff game, but probably didn’t expect the Purple Tigers to get hot from long range in the final minutes.

Cortland knocked down five 3-pointers in the final stanza to turn a 5-point deficit into a 46-41 upset.

Even though NV’s preseason outlook didn’t necessarily include a trip to states due to heavy graduation losses, the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow.

“You have high expectations and so that locker room is pretty tough, because they have high aspirations and high goals, and just couldn't get it done today,” NV coach Greg Schweiger said.

“I thought it was going tobe a 40-point rock fight and it's exactly what it was, and they threw their rocks a little bit better than we did today.”

With her team trailing, 37-32, with less than four minutes remaining the Tigers’ Kendall Mack knocked down the second of her three 3-pointers with 3:09 to go. A Mallory Turner trey 29 seconds later gave Cortland its first lead of the game, 38-37.

NV would regain the edge, 39-38, on a Kalyna Graham basket at 2:22, but Aubree Larkin put the Section III champions back ahead, 42-39, with a 3-ball at 1:52.

Less than 30 seconds later, Hayley Beebe weaved through the defense in the paint for a layup and a 41-41 deadlock.

Cortland missed a pair of free throws, but NV was unable to take advantage, and Mack responded with another trey with just 34 seconds remaining to give the Tigers a 44-41 advantage.

The Cardinals attempted three 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds of play, but could not connect.

Aubree Larkin, who scored all five of her points in the games final 83 seconds, sank two free throws with 6 ½ seconds on the clock to ice the victory.

“I felt like when you make shots, your energy level goes up and once one goes down, the other one goes down,” Schweiger said. “I think our inability to score led to a little bit of flatness on defense, and so it kind of snowballs from there. If we just made a couple more buckets, get a little more bounce in your step when you’re on D, and we close out a little better. Certainly, they got hot at the right time.”

Newark Valley grabbed a 4-2 lead on a Cha Gardner basket with just over 6 1/2 minutes left in the opening period.

Gardner wrapped a bucket and a pair of free throws around a conventional Jasmine Graham 3-point play to give the Cardinals an 11-6 advantage after one period of play.

In the second, Gardner added a field goal, then a free throw, then two more baskets and two more free throws to extend the NV lead to 20-10.

Hayley Beebe chipped in with a basket and the Cardinals had Cortland double up at the break, 22-11.

“I thought we probably lost this game in the first half. We had our opportunities to make that a 20-point lead instead of a 10-point lead,” Schweiger said. “We didn't and so they hung around and hung around, and they executed better down the stretch.”

The third quarter, which was nearly NV’s Achilles’ heel in the Section IV semifinals, was costly again. The Tigers’ Ryleigh Larkin opened the period with a trey. Following a Gardner basket, Cortland went on a 13-5 surge to cut the gap to 29-27 heading into the final frame.

Mack hit a pair of free throws in the first minute of the fourth, tying the game for the first time since 6:53 of the first quarter.

Adrianna Finta found Gardner open in the paint, then stole the ball near mid-court and fed Beebe for a bucket to push NV back in front, 33-29.

Moments later, Gardner would block a shot, but Mack got the ball and nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 33-32.

Kalyna Graham scored and Beebe sank a pair of technical foul free throws to make it 37-32 with 4:06 to go.

Gardner recorded her 18th double-double of the season (two were actually triple-doubles), posting game highs with 24 points and 20 rebounds. She also went 8-for-12 at the free throw line, blocked six shots and dished out one assist.

Beebe finished with 10 points, hitting all four of her foul shots, and had six rebounds, two assists and a steal.Kalyna Graham added four points, a rebound and an assist, and Jasmine Graham had three points, three rebounds and a steal.

Finta contributed three assists and two boards; Liv Short had two boards; Adriana Rich had a steal and a rebound; and Aubrey Kwiatkowski tacked on a rebound.

“I just thanked them in the locker room for giving me the opportunity to coach them and be around a great group of kids for so long,” Schweiger said. “It'll sting for a while, but they'll look back on the season. It's a great success.

“I couldn't be prouder of this group of girls. This team, I feel like they overachieved the whole way through — 22-1 is certainly nothing to hang your head about.”

Cortland (21-4), which has won eight straight, got 20 points from Mack, who had three threes and was 5-for-6 at the line.

The Tigers missed all their first-half 3-point attempts, but made six after the break. NV was 0-for-14 from downtown.

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IN PHOTO 1: NV’s Hayley Beebe (1) and Jasmine Graham ended their high school careers in the state playoffs Saturday. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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