By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE For the first time since 1999, the Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats are the Section IX Class D girls’ basketball champions.
Manor claimed its first title in 13 years by defeating the Roscoe Lady Blue Devils, 53-31, in the Class D championship game on Monday night in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on the SUNY Sullivan campus in Loch Sheldrake.
Manor, which improved its record to 11-8 on the season, advanced to the Class D Regional Finals where they will play Section XI champion Shelter Island at noon tomorrow at Farmingdale State College on Long Island.
The Lady Wildcats, who defeated Roscoe (3-14) for the third time this season, jumped out to a 12-1 lead midway through the first quarter and never looked back. Leading the way was senior guard Maggi Calo, who swished a pair of 3-point shots and scored a layup after making a steal.
Calo knocked down another 3-pointer with four seconds on the clock to give Manor a 17-4 advantage at the end of the opening period.
In the second quarter, Calo hit another shot from beyond the arc and teammate Samantha Scott also made a 3-pointer to help the Lady Wildcats extend their lead to 32-10 at halftime.
Manor stretched its advantage to as many as 28 points in the second half on its way to the commanding victory.
Calo finished with a game-high 18 points while Scott had 14 points. Monay Allen added 10 points for the Lady Wildcats.
“I was able to get open looks at the basket and the shot felt good when it left my hands,” Calo said of her hot shooting performance.
She noted that playing as a team and upping the intensity on defense helped the Lady Wildcats win the game.
“We all played hard for all 32 minutes,” Calo said. “In practice, we worked on defense, defense, defense. We were able to use those defensive skills in the game tonight.”
After losing last season’s Class D title game to John A. Coleman Catholic High School, winning this year’s championship is even sweeter for the Lady Wildcats.
“I don’t even know the word to describe winning this title,” Calo said.
“It feels fantastic to win,” Manor senior center Victoria Davis said. “Basketball is my favorite sport and it’s great to go farther and farther each year. It’s been a great season, but it’s not over yet.”
Manor Coach Kevin Clifford noted that his team played well on both ends of the court.
“We use several defenses: full-court press, full-court man-to-man, 1-3-1 zone and 2-3 zone,” he said. “Tonight we used mostly a full-court man-to-man, except in the second half when we played more zone. I felt our full-court man-to-man was very good. We were getting many steals and turnovers.
“We have a pretty balanced offense,” Clifford continued. “Our top four scorers average nine points, eight points, seven points and seven points a game.”
Like his players, Clifford is happy that this Manor team ended the long sectional championship drought.
“It’s great to win this,” he said. “These girls have worked hard all season and really deserve the title.”
Brittany Klinger was the top scorer for Roscoe with 10 points. Hunter Browne and Ginnie Gilkeson each added seven points for the Lady Blue Devils.
“Livingston Manor has a well balanced team this year and the girls are playing extremely well right now,” Roscoe Coach Becky Ahart said. “They started at the tip- off and did what they knew they needed to do to upset our game plan.
“I am very happy for the team and wish them continued success as they move on,” Ahart continued.
Ahart also praised her team.
“I have a really great group of girls,” she said. “They played hard and they didn’t quit.
I also want to thank the Roscoe community for coming out and supporting our team during the season,” Ahart added. “It meant a lot to me and the girls.”
Ahart is looking forward to next season the only player on the Lady Blue Devils’ roster who will not be back for the 2012-2013 season is Browne, who will graduate in June.