By Jon Dinan
LOCH SHELDRAKE March 1, 2013 The Lady Wildcats of Livingston Manor earned their second consecutive Section IXClass D basketball championship Wednesday night at SUNY Sullivan’s Paul Gerry Field House.
Their 26-19 win over the Eldred Yellowjackets came despite not playing their best, and having two sick starters.
Guard Cindy Zheng was battling a cold while point guard Imani Miranda experienced some obvious nausea.
But the pair of seniors overcame their illnesses well enough to lead their team to a second consecutive title.
Miranda was agile and tricky in the lane, finishing several strong drives with tough lay-ups to lead all Manor scorers with eight points.
Zheng was effective from outside, hitting two deep field goals at pivotal points in the game.
Zheng’s biggest shot came in the fourth quarter, when she hit a deep, momentum shifting two-pointer to end an Eldred offensive surge. Manor went up 23-15 on Zheng’s shot with about 6:30 left in regulation.
Eldred was not without their share of physical maladies. Julia Wilk and Nicole Elvin both went down late in the game with what appeared to be leg injuries during the game. Wilk returned to the game but Elvin did not.
The Eldred girls played solid defense and rebounded well throughout, but struggled offensively.
Late in the game, however, it appeared that with Manor’s Samantha Scott and Devon Dutcher sidelined due to foul trouble, that the Yellowjackets might pull off a fourth quarter comeback. They were not able to close the gap before Scott reentered the game, though. Shortly after Scott checked back in, she drew a big foul, and hit a clutch pair of free throws with just under two minutes left to seal the Manor victory.
“We weren’t going to let sicknesses and players in foul trouble stop us from getting our title,” Zheng said. “Getting to go back (to the state semifinals) is truly amazing. Our hard work has really paid off.
“I thought we did a great job tonight, it was a great team effort. I’m proud of the way we battled back, but we still have work to do during the layoff,” said Manor head coach Kevin Clifford.
“I’m really proud of the way we played. I can’t fault my players at all they left everything we had out on the floor tonight,” said Eldred (710) head coach Teresa Colvin.
Livingston Manor (510) will face the Section III-IV winner in the state semifinals to be played at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy on March 16.
Notes: Amy Calo and Samantha Scott both netted six points for Manor. Jessica Schips led Eldred with nine.