SYRACUSE — Kate Donnelly and Piper Seamon each made a key free throw and Dani Seamon drew a late charge to help third-seeded Cooperstown foil a comeback by second-seeded Onondaga and advance to the section finals next weekend with a 51-48 win in the Section III Class C girls basketball semifinals Saturday, Feb. 29, at Onondaga Community College’s Allyn Hall Gymnasium.
Cooperstown coach Mike Niles said he felt, “a little frazzled,” after the win, but “our seniors came through again.
“We definitely had a little thing there where I thought we had them on the ropes, in both halves,” he continued. “They were gutsy.”
The Hawkeyes led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, and by 13 in the third quarter, but both times the Tigers went on big runs, aided by three-point baskets, to get back into the game.
Cooperstown led, 26-11, midway through the second quarter, but Onondaga closed the half on a 11-2 run, including 3s from Avianna Baker and Macey DeOrdio, and trailed, 28-22, at halftime.
The Hawkeyes scored the first seven points of the third quarter, and led 35-22, when Donnelly made a back-door pass to Dani Seamon inside for a layup with 5:29 left in the quarter. However, after an Onondaga timeout, the Tigers scored the next 11 points, including two more three-point baskets from DeOrdio to make it 35-33. Cooperstown then closed out the quarter with a putback by Piper Seamon and a 3-pointer by Donnelly to lead, 40-33, going into the fourth quarter.
The Tigers never led in the game, but had several shots in the air which would have tied the game in the fourth quarter; none of them went in.
Lindsey Trosset’s 3-pointer with 3:28 left in the game, gave Cooperstown a 49-41 lead, and seemed like it would stop the comeback. Instead, Cooperstown’s attempts to take time off the clock backfired and Onondaga scored seven straight points to make it 49-48 with 20 seconds left.
“I thought we did a good job using the clock,” Niles said, “but we didn’t get (points) off it.”
Larissa Fitzgibbons brought the Tigers within a point, 49-48, with about 20 seconds left. Piper Seamon got fouled and made her first free throw with 15.6 seconds left. Her younger sister got the rebound when she missed the second free throw, but after a tie up, the alternate possession went to Onondaga.
At the other end of the court, Baker drove in for a game tying layup, only to have Dani Seamon step in and and take a charge against her with about 10 seconds left. It was the fifth foul on the Tigers’ junior point guard.
Donnelly missed two free throws with about 6-seconds left and then fouled Fitzgibbons while going for the rebound. However, after missing the first free throw, Fitzgibbons was called for a lane violation while trying to intentionally miss the second one. Donnelly then went 1-for-2 at the line for the final point of the game. On the inbound pass, Natalie Fountain got a hand on the ball and deflected it, which prevented the Tigers from attempting a long game-tying shot at the buzzer.
Donnelly led Cooperstown with 13 points, Dani Seamon scored 10 points and had 11 rebounds, Gabby Woeppel had nine points, Trosset scored seven points and Piper Seamon had seven points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Baker and DeOrdio each scored 15 points to lead Onondaga (18-4), while Riley Cox scored 11 points.
Cooperstown played without its starting center, freshman Meagan Schuermann, who missed the game because of a violation of school rules. Niles said her status for the championship game is uncertain, but he was thrilled with the way Dani Seamon, who is also a freshman, played in Schuermann’s absence.
“Dani is a good defender, and I think she is a very good defender, when you consider she is only a ninth grader,” he said. “We did a really, really good job on (Cox). That was mostly Dani Seamon.
“The thing about Meghan is she is a very good rebounder. We get another 5 or 10 possessions with her in the game,” he said.
Cooperstown (19-4) will play top seed Weedsport (21-1) in the Section III Class C girls finals at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 7, again in OCC’s Allyn Hall in Syracuse. The Warriors beat fourth seeded West Canada Valley, 70-48, in the other semifinal Saturday.
Cooperstown, the defending Section III Class C champ, beat Weedsport, in last year’s semifinals, 63-60. The Warriors were also the top seed last year. Niles said they lost most of their top players from that team, yet managed to have the same record this season going into the finals. The Warriors lost their first game of the season, 58-49, Nov. 29, to Palmyra-Macedon, a Class B school, and have won 21-straight games since then.
“We’re going to have to get outside with them and defend their shooters,” Niles said.
Cooperstown 51, Onondaga 48
Section III Class C girls basketball semifinals
at Onondaga Community College
Cooperstown ..... 17 11 12 11 - 51
Onondaga ..... 9 13 11 15 - 48
3-Cooperstown: Abby Ford, 0 0-0 0, Ashley Kiuber 1 0-0 2, Gabby Woeppel 4 1-1 9, Natalie Fountain 1 1-2 3, Lindsey Trosset 3 0-0 7, Kate Donnelly 4 3-6 13, Piper Seamon 2 3-7 7, Dani Seamon 3 4-6 10. Totals: 18 12-21 51.
2-Onondaga: Avianna Baker 4 4-5 15, Larissa Fitzgibbons 2 0-2 4, Macey DeOrdio 5 2-5 15, Shea Jackson-Baggett 1 0-1 2, Riley Cox 4 3-4 11. Totals: 16 10-19 48.
Three-point baskets: C 3 (Donnelly 2, Trosset); O 6 (Baker 3, DeOrdio 3).