By Rob Potter
NEW PALTZ With 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter of Monday evening’s Section IX Class D girls’ basketball championship game at SUNY New Paltz, Livingston Manor’s Marissa Diescher swished a 3-point shot to give her team a 28-26 advantage over John A. Coleman Catholic High School.
The shot, which was Diescher’ third successful basket from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc of the game, gave No. 2 seed Manor its first lead of the game. With 6.7 seconds left in the quarter, Coleman’s Nicole Curley made two foul shots to even the score at 28-28.
At the 6:36 mark of the fourth period, Manor’s Kiera Browne converted a free throw to put her team ahead 29-28. Browne’s second foul shot bounced off the rim and Coleman’s Emily Curley grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Curley then made the front end of a 1-and-1 at the other end of court to knot the game at 29-29.
Eighteen seconds later, junior guard Kate Shults swished the first of her two free throws to give the Stateswomen a 30-29 advantage.
No. 1 seed Coleman (17-2) outscored Manor 14-5 in the remaining time to record a 44-34 victory. With the win, Coleman claimed its fourth consecutive Class D championship and moved on to the state playoffs.
The Stateswomen are scheduled to play Section XI champion Shelter Island in the regional semifinals.
Coleman’s Katie Davis scored with 2:33 left to push the lead to double digits at 41-31. Just 24 seconds elapsed before she made a 3-pointer to give the Stateswomen a 12-point advantage.
With 1:35 to go, Diescher swished her fourth 3-point shot of the contest to cut the Coleman lead back to single digits at 43-34.
Diescher, a senior forward, netted a game-high 30 points. She ended her scholastic basketball career with more than 1,900 points.
Browne and Monay Allen accounted for Manor’s other points. Several other Lady Wildcats took shots during the game, but the ball just would not fall through the net. And many times when the ball caromed off the rim, one of the Stateswomen was there to get the rebound.
Three Manor players Allen, Christine Babich and Angela Zayas had to leave the game in the fourth quarter after being charged with their fifth foul while trying their best to defend a Coleman player or grab a rebound.
“We played good defense tonight,” Manor Coach Kevin Clifford said.
He noted that rebounding and the foul situation were keys to the game’s outcome.
Manor was 4 of 13 (31 percent) at the free-throw line, while Coleman shot 12 for 38 (32 percent) at the line.
Despite yet another disappointing loss to Coleman, which was ranked No. 1 among Class D girls’ basketball teams in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll for much of this season, Clifford praised all of the Manor players.
“I loved the effort that everybody gave out there on the court,” Clifford said. “It was a great game and unless you win a state title, every team ends its season with a loss.
“Our five seniors will really be missed next year,” added Clifford, referring to Babich, Browne, Paige Clancy, Diescher and Zayas.
Manor finished the season with a 15-5 record. Of those five losses, four were to eventual Section IX champions. Class AA champion Warwick defeated Manor once and Class C champion Tri-Valley defeated Manor twice.
But the Lady Wildcats also defeated T-V once, which was Lady Bears’ only loss of the regular season.
Makenzie Burud led the Stateswomen with 10 points. Emily Curley and Shults added nine points apiece, Davis finished with eight points and Nicole Curley had six points.
Coleman Coach Guy Leonard noted that his team started the game slowly because it had been 17 days since they last played a game. And while he wasn’t happy about how the Stateswomen shot the ball at the foul line, he was pleased to win another Class D title.
He also praised the Manor team.
“Hats off to Livingston Manor, they played hard,” Leonard said. “But I had a feeling we would catch them at the end of the game.”