By Greg Klein
---- — SYRACUSE
Cooperstown’s girls are going to the state basketball tournament.
The Redskins led throughout the Section Three Class C finals, winning their first overall sectional crown since 2008 with a 59-44 win over C-2 champ Weedsport on Feb. 28 at the Carrier Dome.
Weedsport made a second-half run, but Cooperstown played well under pressure.
“When we get tight, positive things happen,” said Sumer Murdock, who sank five three-point field goals including two to start the second half. “Our teamwork comes out and we play well when we’re under pressure.”
Murdock scored a game-high 21 points and Alannah Haggerty contributed 17 for Cooperstown, which had big runs to start and finish the game.
“I think we got gassed at the end of the third quarter,” said Cooperstown coach Mike Niles, whose team took a 29-18 lead into halftime before getting outscored, 13-9, in the third period. “We got a little rest and we started helping out Liz (Millea) against their press. We started breaking their press and we ended up getting easy layups out of it.”
Abby Marsden’s putback 10 seconds into the final quarter pulled Weedsport (18-4) to 38-33, but that was as close as it got. The Redskins followed with a 19-3 spurt that included a string of 11 straight points and ended when Nicole Cring made a putback with 1:14 left.
Cooperstown (20-2) started the game on a 12-1 run, which included six points from Haggerty, and led 15-6 after one quarter.
Murdock had a big second quarter, scoring eight points in a 14-12 second period that kept the Redskins on top at the break.
“Shooting is a process,” said Murdock, who scored six points in the third quarter and five more in the fourth. “Once I get the rhythm down, they seem to go in. I practice my shooting every morning with my dad and I’m always ready to shoot when I get the ball.”
Murdock’s threes offset six by Weedsport.
“Holy cow they hit some threes, which is not something (Weedsport has) done all year,” Niles said.
Murdock’s second three-point shot of the third quarter put Cooperstown up, 35-18, 90 seconds into the half. But Weedsport answered with three three-point baskets in the quarter. The Redskins did not score for four minutes as the Warriors made their comeback.
Shelbie VanNorstrand made two three-point baskets in the final two minutes of the third quarter. The second one brought her team to within six points, 37-31, with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Haggerty made one of two free throws with nine seconds left in the quarter.
Marsden’s putback made it a five-point game, but Cooperstown went on its final run to end the game.
Cooperstown spent most of the game in a 2-3 zone in an attempt to compensate for the Warriors’ speedy point guard Gabby LaForce.
“We were really afraid of getting into foul trouble on LaForce,” Niles said. “We had a couple of people in front of her at all times.”
LaForce’s led Weedsport with 10 points. Marsden and Cassie Weeks scored eight points each.
Haggerty, who dominated the inside with center Cring, scored 10 points in the opening half for the Redskins. Cring finished with eight points and Millea had seven points.
Cooperstown will play Harpursville (18-3) in the quarterfinal game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Oneonta State. The Hornets beat Unatego, 60-36, on March 2 at Oneonta State.
Cooperstown 59, Weedsport 44
SECTION THREE CLASS C FINALS
At Syracuse Carrier Dome
WEEDSPORT (18-4): Gabby LaForce 3 2-4 10, Davianna Blasi 1 4-6 6, Kaitlyn O’Connell 1 0-0 2, Abby Marsden 4 0-0 8, Shelbie VanNorstrand 2 0-0 6, JoHanna Feocco 2 0-0 4, Cassie Weeks 2 2-2 8, Biz Chirco 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13 8-12 44.
COOPERSTOWN (21-2): Liz Millea 1 5-7 7, Sumer Murdock 8 0-0 21, Alannah Haggerty 7 3-5 17, Nicole Cring 3 2-6 8, Caitlyn Briggs 1 0-0 2, Maggie Hall 2 0-0 4, S.J. Morosko 0 0-0 0, Noelle Palmatier 0 0-0 0, Ellen Vibbard 0 0-0 0, Lucy Ford 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22 10-18 59.
Weedsport 6 12 13 13 — 44
Cooperstown 15 14 9 21 — 59
Three-point field goals: W 6 (LaForce 2, VanNorstrand 2, Weeks 2); C 5 (Murdock 5).
Tournament MVP: Liz Millea, Cooperstown.
All Tournament Team: Sumer Murdock, Cooperstown; Kirsten Dodge, Fabius-Pompey; Gen Schoff, Little Falls; Gabby LaForce, Weedsport; Abby Marsden, Weedsport.