HS GIRLS BASKETBALL: OWEGO CHALLENGES ELMIRA, BUT LATE RALLY FALLS SHORT IN SIBLEY TITLE GAME
(2023-12-03)By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO — Owego held its own against Elmira, but a late rally came up short in a 46-44 loss to the Express in the championship game of the 3rd annual Charlie Sibley Memorial Basketball Tournament Saturday evening.
Owego coach Luke McEvoy knew Elmira would be a challenge, so he was happy with his team’s solid showing.
“That's all I asked the girls to do before the game. I said, let's go out here and fight for 32 minutes. Let's see what we're made of tonight.
“Elmira’s a great team and they're going to win that AAA section this year. They're going to have a very successful season, so if we can play like we played tonight against everybody else on our schedule. I like the effort we gave and prospects that we have.”
Elmira broke a 33-33 deadlock late in the third quarter on an Ellie Clearwater 3-pointer, then extended its advantage to 39-33 on another Clearwater trey 41 seconds into the final stanza.
Following a basket by the River Hawks’ Lexi Herceg, Mariah Matias scored on a layup and Ashaya Wallace drained a three to push the Express lead to 44-35 with 4:23 remaining.
Owego regrouped and scored consecutive baskets by Madison McEvoy and Ava Brown, then Clearwater scored in the paint to make it a 46-39 contest with time winding down.
Brown countered with a bucket and a pair of free throws, and McEvoy added a foul shot to cut the gap to 46-41.
Coach McEvoy attempted to call a timeout after Brown scooped up a loose ball with 12 ½ seconds to go, but was never acknowledged by the referees and the Hawks turned the ball over on a pass.
Owego would get the ball back with four seconds on the clock, but was unable to score.
The Express opened the game with a 7-0 run, but the Hawks battled back as Brown scored her team’s first basket, then McEvoy wrapped a pair of field goals around a Cassie Doane free throw to tie the game at nine with 2:16 left in the first quarter.
A Taylor Dalton free throw, followed by a pair of points from Doane at the charity stripe gave Owego its first lead, 12-11, with 1:03 on the clock.
A Matias block led to a basket at the other end and a 13-12 Elmira lead heading into the second period. Matias and Clearwater scored six and five points, respectively, in the opening frame.
The Hawks received one basket apiece from Doane, Ashlyn Dalton, Brown, Herceg and McEvoy to outscore the visitors, 10-5, in the second quarter and take a 22-18 lead into the break.
Owego held Matias in check after the first period — she scored just six of her 12 points over the final 24 minutes, but Clearwater got hot, nailing 10 of her game-high 20 markers in Q3, including two of her four treys.
The Express outscored the Hawks, 18-11, in the third.
One key for Elmira was keeping Madison McEvoy’s long-range shooting under wraps. The junior point guard, who canned five 3-pointers in Friday’s tournament opener, had just one against the Express.
“There's no secrets here, right? So I think everybody's going to put a focus on her,” coach McEvoy said. “She definitely makes us go offensively, whether it's with scoring or running the offense specifically. That's what coaches like to do, if you can kind of throw a little wrench in the plans and kind of take her out of the mix.
“I thought some other girls really stepped up, took on some new roles this year, and to have this type of game as our second game of the year, I'll take it. We don't like to lose, but again, if we can battle like this every game from here on out, I think we've got some bright spots ahead for us.”
Brown played a big role in keeping Owego in the game with 12 of her team-high 16 points coming in the final 12 minutes.
“They made some clutch shots. Her and Cassie battled inside,” coach McEvoy said. ”The posts for Elmira were fantastic, athletic, and again, it was a great battle for 32 minutes.”
In addition to Brown’s 16 markers, McEvoy added a dozen points. Doane contributed seven, Herceg chipped in with a half-dozen, Ashley Dalton had two and Taylor Dalton tackled on one.
Madison McEvoy was named to the all-tournament team.
The River Hawks (1-1) visit Elmira Notre Dame Tuesday.
IN PHOTO 1: Owego’s Cassie Doane. ... PHOTOS 1-23 BY TIM TAYLOR. ... PHOTO 24 BY CATHY DOANE.