BINGHAMTON — It was never a question of heart, only how far heart would take the Cooperstown girls basketball team.
It turned out to be the state quarterfinals, as foul trouble and poor shooting stopped the Hawkeyes, who fell to a talented Watkins Glen team, 60-49, Sunday at the Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton.
“Only one team wins their last game, and even that’s sad, because the season is over,” Cooperstown coach Michael Niles said. “We got a little momentum in the fourth, put a little scare in them, the kids responded. I’d like to spend another week with them, but I’ll see them in gym class.”
Trailing, 53-29, early in the fourth quarter, five scorers contributed, and a defensive surge keyed a 18-1 Cooperstown run to cut the deficit to as few as seven, 54-47, with less than two minutes left.
“I think we always had hope and we had faith in each other,” Cooperstown senior Kate Trosset said. “We just keep playing basketball. No matter what the score is, it’s 0-0.”
The Hawkeyes took a 7-6 lead after one quarter, but Hawkeyes senior Lauren Vibbard went out with her second foul with more than three minutes left in the period. The Senecas got going offensively in the second, taking a 19-14 lead and giving second fouls to Cooperstown starters Emilie Perez and Meagan Schuermann.
“I really liked our first quarter. Everything we were looking for was going our way,” Niles said. “The foul trouble, Emilie and Meagan were great in the first quarter, but when you have to start stepping and fetching, subbing out of your normal pattern, it’s hard.”
“Emilie and Lauren, two of our best defenders, both were out for a lot of the second quarter,” Trosset said. “Obviously (that) affects us a lot, even though we have a strong bench. It’s just different.”
Trosset answered with an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the deficit to 19-17, but the Senecas closed the half on an 8-2 run for a 27-19 lead at the break.
“It was frustrating not being able to go in and help and get my rebounds like I do,” Perez said. “My girls, I know they are good, so it wasn’t a bummer or I was mad, I was mad at myself for being in foul trouble.”
Watkins Glen’s senior leaders Hannah Morse and Taylor Kelly extended the lead in the third, combining for 12 points as the Senecas put together a 19-10 run over the course of the frame. The Hawkeyes made just three field goals in the period and had several shots from close narrowly miss.
“The shooting percentage in the arena is always a weight to bear,” Niles said. “And the other thing is, Watkins Glen played good defense. Us missing didn’t happen in a vacuum. Watkins Glen guarded us for sure.”
A three-pointer from Danielle Leszyk and four more Watkins Glen points, capped by a transition bucket from Kelly, made the deficit 24 early in the fourth.
Kelly finished with 20 points to lead all scorers, while Morse totaled 17 for the Senecas.
Trosset and Piper Seamon led Cooperstown with 12 points each. Perez and Schuermann both scored seven, while Ashley Kiuber had four and Vibbard had three, for Cooperstown (19-6), which had only its second loss in 17 games.
“I know for me, Kate and Lauren, we’ve been playing together since second grade,” Perez said. “When that buzzer went off that was it for us. We’ll never be able to play basketball together again. So it’s very emotional.”
Niles said the section championship and state playoff appearance was a nice way to finish with his seniors.
“It’s really fulfilling," he said. "The kids, especially Piper and Kate, they’ve both been really good supporting players the last few seasons. So now that they are leaders of the team, they can take the reins and they were perfect. It was great.”
“I was just talking in the locker room and I was saying that I’ve been on a lot of teams and played a lot of sports but I’ve never felt to supported and happy, never so excited to show up to practice,” Trosset said. “Getting this far is special to me, but just being on this team is so much better."
Watkins Glen advances to the state semifinals, where it will play defending Class C girls state champion, Millbrook, at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Troy.
WG 60, Cooperstown 49
Class C Girls Quarterfinals
Floyd L. Maines Arena, Binghamton
Watkins Glen …… 6 21 19 14 - 60
Cooperstown …… 7 12 10 20 - 49
Watkins Glen (20-4): Hannah Morse 4 7-10 17, Kelsey Kernan 0 0-0 0, Jena Slater 2 0-2 4, Aislinn Klemann 1 0-2 3, Adrienna Solomon 3 1-2 7, Danielle Leszyk 2 4-6 9, Taylor Kelly 8 3-4 20. TOTALS 20 15-26 60.
Cooperstown (19-6): Abby Ford 0 0-2 0, Ashley Kiuber 2 0-0 4, Meagan Schuermann 2 3-5 7, Lauren Vibbard 1 0-0 3, Kate Trosset 4 3-3 12, Kate Donnelly 1 0-0 2, Piper Seamon 4 3-4 12, Natalie Fountain 1 0-0 2, Emilie Perez 1 5-5 7. TOTALS 16 14-19 49.
Three-point field goals: WG 5 (Morse 2, Klemann, Leszyk, Kelly); C 3 (Vibbard, Trosset, Seamon).