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Rob Potter | Democrat

Eldred’s Kim Elvin (5) looks on as teammate Meaghan Hazen keeps the basketball away from Livingston Manor’s Maggi Calo, right, after grabbing a rebound in Monday night’s Class D semifinal game at Eldred Central School.

Eldred edges Manor in ‘D’ semi

By Rob Potter
ELDRED — March 5, 2010 — When the members of the two teams playing in Monday night’s Section IX Class D girls’ basketball tournament semifinal game at Eldred Central School looked across the court at their opponent, they saw a lot of familiar faces.
For the third time this season, the Eldred Lady Yellowjackets and Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats met on the court. And just as they did in the two Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI games the two teams played, the Lady Yellowjackets prevailed.
No. 2 seed Eldred overcame a 17-10 deficit at the end of the first quarter to record a 50-47 victory over the third-seeded Lady Wildcats.
With the win, the Lady Yellowjackets advanced to the Class D championship game. They will play No. 1 seed John A. Coleman Catholic High School for the title at 5 p.m. today at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. Coleman (16-3) reached this evening’s championship contest by defeating the visiting fourth-seeded Chapel Field Lady Lions, 50-34, on Monday night.
Manor (13-6) got off to quick start in the opening minutes. Sophomore forward Monay Allen converted a layup to give the Lady Wildcats a 6-2 lead with 5:11 remaining in the first quarter.
After Eldred (14-2) took a 10-9 lead on a basket by junior center Sage Owens with 1:23 to go, Manor responded with good perimeter shooting. Junior guards Marissa Diescher and Angela Zayas made a 3-point shot and a regular jump shot, respectively, to give the Lady Wildcats a 14-10 advantage.
Then with four seconds left in the stanza, Diescher drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Manor its aforementioned 17-10 lead at the end of the first eight minutes of play.
The second eight minutes of competition, however, belonged to the Lady Yellowjackets. Junior forward Meaghan Hazen scored nine points in the quarter to help Eldred take a 26-19 advantage at halftime.
The Lady Yellowjackets maintained their lead in the third period. Hazen put back a missed shot with 6:20 displayed on the scoreboard clock to give Eldred a 30-23 advantage.
Manor answered with a 7-2 run during the next three minutes. Junior forward Victoria Davis grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball back up and in the basket to cut the Lady Yellowjackets’ lead to 32-30 with 3:18 to go.
At the 1:34 mark, Owens scored in the lane to push Eldred’s advantage to 34-30. But Diescher swished a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game with 31 seconds left in the quarter.
Twice in the fourth period, Diescher hit 3-point shots to even the score, first at 42-42 with 5:05 remaining and then at 45-45 with 3:32 to go.
With 2:51 remaining, Owens scored under the basket while being fouled. Following a Manor timeout, Owens calmly swished her free throw to give the Lady Yellowjackets a 48-45 advantage.
At the 1:17 mark, Hazen scored inside the lane to give the home team a five-point lead at 50-45.
Just 11 seconds later, Davis made a pair of foul shots to bring the Lady Wildcats within three at 50-47.
In the last minute, Eldred forced three turnovers by the Lady Wildcats. But Manor had one final opportunity to tie the score.
With three seconds left, Diescher had a good look at the basket from the top of the key just beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc. But her shot glanced off the rim and there was a hectic scramble for the rebound.
A player from each team grabbed the ball and the referees quickly called for a jump ball. The possession arrow was pointing Eldred’s way, so the team inbounded the ball with one second remaining.
Senior guard Lauren Hazen passed the ball to junior guard Kim Elvin, who held onto it as the last second elapsed and the buzzer sounded.
Owens and Meaghan Hazen each recorded a double-double to lead Eldred to victory. Owens scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Hazen had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Elvin added seven points and seven steals and junior guard Heather Ouellette registered six points.
Lauren Hazen and the five other Lady Yellowjackets seniors – Birkin Abreu, Amanda Busch, Kelsey Ferguson, Jill Harris and Candice Martin – presented flowers to their parents during a pregame ceremony.
The win guarantees that longtime Eldred Coach Frank Kean, who will be retiring at the end of this school year in June, will be guiding the Lady Yellowjackets for at least one more game. For several minutes after the conclusion of Monday night’s game, Kean and his players were congratulated by many happy Eldred students and members of the players’ families.
“They’ve bought into my system of coaching,” Kean said of the Lady Yellowjackets. “They focus on the fundamentals in practice and play with their hearts during the games.”
Kean praised his players for the way they responded in the second quarter after his pep talk following the first quarter.
“Sage [Owens] played her usual great game and Meaghan Hazen did a tremendous job,” Kean said. “Kim Elvin did a terrific job making steals and Lauren Hazen did a great job of defending Marissa Diescher. Marissa is a great player and she got her 27 points tonight. But the key was that we didn’t let her get any more than 27 points.”
Diescher netted 15 of her game-high 27 points on five successful 3-point shots.
Sophomore guard Maggi Calo and Zayas added five points apiece for the Lady Wildcats.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Manor Coach Kevin Clifford said. “They hit shots when they needed to. It was a tough game and it stinks to be on this end of it.”
He noted that his players have improved this season, including Diescher, who achieved the 1,000-point milestone as a sophomore during the 2008-2009 season and averaged 22.7 points a game this season.
“She has really developed her game,” Clifford said of Diescher. “She’s able to hit the deep 3-point shot or drive to the basket.”
Although it ended with a difficult loss, Clifford spoke positively about his team’s overall 2009-2010 season.
“We grew a lot during the season,” he said. “We have a young team, almost everyone will be back next year.”
Manor will lose just one player, Melissa Schroeder, to graduation in June.

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