By Mackensey O'hara Contributing Writer
---- — Despite early foul trouble, Maddy Zenir made her final minutes count, scoring the last seven points of the game to secure a 49-46 Milford victory over Schenevus Friday.
“I just tried not to think about the score or the fouls and just played, because that’s what I like to do,” said Zenir, a sophomore.
The Wildcats clinched the Tri-Valley East title on Monday with a 47-36 road victory over Richfield Springs. It is their first girls basketball division title since 2007. They last won the crossover in 2005.
Both Milford girls and boys will play in the Tri-Valley crossover games on Saturday at Oneonta State. The girls will play undefeated Franklin, which is ranked No. 3 in Class D, at 6 p.m.The boys will have a rematch with undefeated Edmeston at 8 p.m. The Panthers beat the Wildcats 64-57 on Jan. 17 in Milford.
On Friday, Zenir, who pulled down two of her team-best 15 rebounds with under two minutes left, made both ends of a one and one with 15 seconds remaining to make it a two possession game capping her scoring at 18 points.
With seven seconds left, Schenevus’s Alyssa Turner converted a layup to bring the Dragons within three. Two missed free throws by Milford’s Emilie Mertz gave Schenevus one last chance, but Addy Lawson stole the ball for Milford to secure the victory.
There were six ties and 10 lead changes in the game.
“We played well tonight,” said Milford coach Jim Weir. “We had a lot of kids step up for us. Dawn Simmons came in and played well. She had a few rebounds when Maddy was in foul trouble.”
Simmons would finish with four points for the Wildcats.
Lawson, who had 17 points, stole the ball 15 seconds into the fourth quarter and made the layup to give Milford their first lead of the second half. After Schenevus’s Sarah Marlow answered with a right side jumper to regain the Dragon’s lead, Lawson countered with a turn around three-pointer at the top of the key for a 39-37 Milford advantage.
Trailing by seven points in the third quarter after a long three-pointer by Schenevus’s Sierra Bentley, the Wildcats extended their 2-3 zone defense to pressure the Dragon’s guards, creating multiple turnovers and propelling a Milford comeback.
After Milford forced a turnover with 2:47 left in the game and Zenir converted a jumper off a well-executed inbounds play, the game was tied at 33.
“We’ve been working on that a bit,” Weir said of the extended 2-3 zone. “We would have liked to do it more, but their (Schenevus’s) posts wouldn’t allow it.”
The Dragons outscored Milford 6-0 to close out the first half. Back-to-back baskets from post players Ceara Marlow and Turner, respectively, made it 24-20 in the third quarter and gave Schenevus their first lead of the night.
“They are a very good team,” Weir said. “We hadn’t played in two weeks so we were a little rusty tonight, but I didn’t think they (Schenevus) played their best either.”
The first half was largely controlled by Milford, Lawson leading the way. She scored 11 of her 17 points in the first half as the offense flowed through her. Lawson would create Milford’s largest lead of the night with her three-pointer from the left side. She then blocked a shot on the next play and went coast-to-coast, drawing the foul and making one of two free throws.
“She can do it,” Weir said. “I think she is first or second in three pointers in the area and one of the top scorers too.”
The Wildcats would not trail again in the first half after a three-pointer by Zenir made it 10-5 with 2:46 left in the first quarter.
“Oh my god, it feels so great (to beat Schenevus this time). We worked our tails off and it was really worth it,” Zenir said.
Bentley led Schenevus with 18 points. Turner and Marlow finished with 11 and 10 points respectively, for the Dragons (12-4, 8-4).