Story by Jon Dinan
TROY March 15, 2013 After the Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats won the Section 9 Class D championship over Eldred on Feb. 27, they earned a bye straight to the state semifinal game due to a lack of Class D teams in surrounding sections.
That game will be played 9 a.m. Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
Manor (6-10) will have their work cut out for them playing Section 3’s Oriskany, which is undefeated at 22-0, ranked No. 2 in the state and is fresh off a 51-46 state quarterfinal victory against previously undefeated Franklin of Section 4. Oriskany is located southeast of Rome in Oneida County.
“I know they have good team height including a 6’1’’ center,” said Manor head coach Kevin Clifford.
Christina Graziadei is the six-footer Clifford is referring to, an offensive and defensive powerhouse who leads her team in scoring and rebounding with 15.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Graziadei is also Oriskany’s all-time leading scorer and will be playing for Hartwick College next year.
"I wouldn’t want to go out any other way in my senior year,” said Graziadei about the prospects of winning a state championship. “We had a bad taste in our mouths after what happened to us last year, [losing in the regional final] so we worked hard to get back here and to get another shot at it. We finally got over that hump, and now that we have this we want more,"
Oriskany’s other threats include: Jordan Sahl, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, averaging 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds, and senior forward Shannon VanShufflin, who leads the team with 6.3 assists per game.
In order to nullify such an impressive roster, Manor will need big games from their scoring leaders Sam Scott (13.4 ppg) and Ami Calo (6.2 ppg).
Lack of preparation may also serve as a disadvantage for Manor.
“We’ve missed quite a few practices lately because of weather,” said Clifford. “We lost out on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week so this week we’re trying to catch up on strategizing offenses and defenses to counteract their height advantage,” Clifford revealed.
“They’re definitely the favorite but any given night could go our way if our shots are falling. We just have to play our game and do the best we can,” he added.