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IAC GIRLS BASKETBALL: NEWARK VALLEY CAPTURES FOURTH STRAIGHT LARGE SCHOOL TITLE (2024-02-15)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
DRYDEN — It may not have been a thing of beauty, but that didn’t really matter. After all, it was the fourth consecutive IAC Large School championship for the Newark Valley girls basketball team.

NV shrugged off a sluggish performance in the third quarter to defeat Whitney Point, 55-35, at TC3 Thursday evening, completing the four-peat and extending its current win streak to 19 games.

Leading, 21-20, the Cardinals doubled their output during the period to build a 42-27 advantage. Cha Gardner started the run, wrapping a pair of baskets around three free throws. A 3-pointer and basket by Aubrey Kwiatkowski, three points from Adrianna Finta helped boost the lead, and two more Gardner buckets closed out the 21-7 run.

“That's really been the story for us kind of this year,” said NV coach Greg Schweiger. “We don't win pretty, but we've been winning, so I'm pleased with their effort in the second half.

“I'm pleased with their effort the whole game and it's just shots weren't falling in the first half. Maybe mirrors, maybe jitters. It doesn't matter how many times you're here, it's still a championship game and it means a lot to both teams, so you’ve got to overcome that.

“Did a great job in the third quarter of seizing control of the game. By pounding the ball inside and Cha kind of took over there in the third quarter.”

A trio of baskets from Gardner, Kwiatkowski’s third trey of the night, and one field goal apiece by Anaya Aylesworth and Kam Short in the final frame gave NV its 20-point margin of victory.

“It helped (that) Aubrey Kwiatkowski stepped up, hit a couple shots, loosened the game up a lot,” Schweiger said. “I thought our defense picked up in the full court. We started bothering them, harassing them a little more like we did in previous games with them.”

Two baskets apiece by Gardner and Finta, and a free throw from Short carried NV to the early lead, but a pair of three-balls by Billie Leet, including a buzzer beater, kept the Golden Eagles close after one period.

Whitney Point tied the game at 11 and Sadee Short countered a Kwiatkowski trey with one of her own to keep things knotted at 14.

The Eagles would actually grab a brief 16-14 advantage on a Sadee Short basket, but Gardner tied the game with a putback.

Leet responded almost a minute later with a field goal for an 18-16 lead, but Gardner put NV ahead with a conventional 3-point play and scored again to make it 21-18 at halftime.

“Credit (coach) Tom (Kraly) and that Whitney Point crew,” said Schweiger. “They've steadily gotten better over the year and they played a really good game tonight.”

Gardner pumped out 30 points to lead all scorers and also pulled down her 1,000th career rebound.

Kwiatkowski added 11 points, Finta contributed seven, Kam Short tacked on three, and Aylesworth and Adriana Rich pitched in with one basket apiece.

Sadee Short paced Whitney Point with 11 points, Leet had eight, Bianca Skiba chipped in with seven, and Kylan Smith and Olivia Somers added five and four, respectively.

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PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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