CVS photo

Joleen Lusk of Cherry Valley-Springfield handles the ball during the Section IV Class D Championship Game against Oxford at SUNY Delhi on Saturday, March 4. Oxford won 38-36.

Three season-saving stops propelled the Oxford girls to a 38-36 victory over Cherry Valley-Springfield in the Section IV Class D Championship on Saturday at SUNY Delhi. The win is the first girls sectional championship for the Blackhawks since 2003.

Coach Chris Palmer is proud to be able to bring that title back after 20 years.

“This is something we talked about as soon as the final buzzer happened last year,” he said. “We had virtually everybody coming back, we had no seniors last year. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but we’ve got a group of kids that put in a lot of time, so I think to them it means a lot. It means a ton to me that they’ve put the sacrifices in to earn this.”

Madalyn Barrows led Oxford with a game-high 20 points, while Ella Kelsey added eight in the win. Joleen Lusk led the Patriots with a double-double of 12 points and 24 rebounds, while Brin Whiteman added eight points for CV-S.

Oxford was able to get out to a 4-0 lead in the first few minutes of a slow-paced first quarter, until CV-S climbed back in to end the opening quarter with a 10-8 lead.

Oxford went on a 7-0 run in the second quarter to grab the lead back and push it to 20-13. Following a timeout, the Blackhawks extended their lead and ended the half on a 13-2 run that would give them a 26-15 halftime lead.

Palmer was pleased with his team’s ability to lock down the CV-S offense in the first half.

“I thought this was a classic size versus speed matchup,” he said. “We knew we had to get out and pressure the ball, stay out of foul trouble as best we could. Their size with Joleen Lusk and the others; West, Dubben, everybody. Brin Whiteman has been shooting really well. We knew that was going to be a tough matchup but we had to make it a 94-foot game if we could. We just had to try our best to rebound with them”.

Both teams came out of the locker room and put up good defensive performances in the third quarter, and Oxford was able to maintain their 11-point lead, entering the fourth quarter up 35-24.

CV-S was able to slowly chip away at the deficit in the fourth quarter. They cut it to 37-30 with 4:17 remaining, and got it down to 37-32 with a minute and a half to go. A Mia Dubben layup with 30 seconds left made the score 37-36, and things began to get interesting.

After the layup, Oxford was called for a travel with 29.1 seconds left, giving the Patriots an opportunity to take their first lead since the beginning of the second quarter, but Oxford was able to make a defensive stop.

CV-S was given another chance after a pair of missed free throws, but Oxford was once again able to get a desperately-needed stop on the defensive end with six seconds remaining.

Naiomi Smith knocked down one free throw on the other end, making the score 38-36, and the Blackhawks were able to get one more stop in the remaining seconds to become the Class D Champions with the two-point victory.

“It’s just a matter of mental toughness.” Palmer said of the Oxford defense at the end of the game. “There wasn’t a lot of strategy involved; it was, the girls have to lock down on their girl, help each other out, have each other’s back, and we were very fortunate that we were able to hold on.”

Oxford will now await their regional tournament matchup, but Palmer will have his team ready for whoever they match up with next.

“I’ve seen a little bit of film of the two teams that are playing,” he said. “We’re going to take a day off here because we play on Sunday down in Binghamton and we’re going to go back to fundamentals. We’ll talk about what that other team does well but really we’ve got to stick with what we do well and that’s what we’ll do.”

Oxford 38, Cherry Valley-Springfield 36

Ox … 8 18 9 3 — 38

CV-S … 10 5 9 12 — 36

Ox: Naiomi Smith 0 1-X 1, Kyla Kelsey 0 0-X 0, Madalyn Barrows 7 4-X 20, Kadence Gallo 0 0-X 0, Taylor Smith 0 0-X 0, Ella Kelsey 4 0-X 8, Jocie Finch 2 0-X 5, Ava Benjamin 0 0-X 0, Bailey Chesebro 0 0-X 0, Elizabeth Knapp 0 0-X 0, Abby Denz 2 0-X 2, Leah Oliver 0 0-X 0, Taegan Manwarren 1 0-X 2. Totals: 16 5-X 38CV-S: Kailey Barnes 0 0-X 0, Kyra Druse 0 0-X 0, Daphnee West 1 0-X 2, Morgan Huff 2 1-X 5, Stephanie Whiteman 0 0-X 0, Lydia Lusk 1 0-X 2, Mia Dubben 3 1-X 7, Joleen Lusk 4 4-X 12, Brin Whiteman 3 1-X 8. Totals: 14 7-X 36Three-point baskets: Ox 3 (Barrows 2, Finch); CV-S 1 (B. Whiteman)

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