Jasmin Barnes of Elizabethtown-Lewis goes up for a short range shot against Naomi Peduzzi of Keene as the Lions' Lily Whalen follows the play.
A balanced attack offensively and speed on the defensive end helped the second seed Elizabethtown-Lewis girls varsity basketball team advance to the Section VII/Class D finals with a 68-51 win over Keene Feb. 25.
The Lions used a 13-7 second quarter to extend an early lead to 27-20 at the half and held off a couple of Keene surges in the second half to keep the lead.
“We were getting the ball to Tucker (Geiger) and Naomi (Peduzzi), but they had a very low shooting percentage, which is a credit to their defense,” Keene head coach Brian LaVallee said after the game. “We started to climb the hump a couple of times but just could not get over it.”
Keene also suffered from a depleting bench as Peduzzi and Taylor Geiger fouled out in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, Elaina Smith left the game in the third with a low leg injury.
Lions head coach Don Ratliff said his team played the style they needed to against the third-seeded Beavers.
“That’s the only way that we are going to beat good teams is when we have balance,” he said. “We have potentially the two best players in the league, but you are not going to win these games with just two players.”
Valley Leading scorer Lily Whalen (19.8 ppg) scored 18 points to lead the Lions, while second-leading scorer Jasmin Barnes (14.3) finished three assists shy of a rare quadruple-double with 16 points, 14 rebounds, 11 steals and 7 assists.
“I think we executed well,” Barnes said. “We had some nerves at the beginning of the game but we worked together and played as a team.”
“I was nervous because I got in foul trouble early, but I just slowed down and made sure not to reach,” Whalen said. “We were able to spread it out and play great defense.”
Emma Disogra added 16 points to go with 7 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Savanah Graves scored 10 points while Erika Mitchell, Tamara Wescott, Natalie Martin and Angel Barnes each scored 2 points.
“When you have Emma and Savanah contributing and Angel playing the defense she is capable of, we are a pretty strong team,” Ratliff said.
Tucker Geiger (10.4 ppg) led the Beavers (14-4) with 17 points while Elaina Smith (8.9) scored 10, Hanna Whitney ( 13.9) 9, Naomi Peduzzi (11.5) 8 and Taylor Geiger 7.
“I am going to miss having Tucker under the basket,” LaVallee said of his senior center. “Everyone else is coming back, and we brought home the first ever banner in school history for girls basketball, so this was a great year.”
The Lions (15-5) will face top-seed Moriah in the Section VII/Class D title game Friday, Feb. 28, at the Plattsburgh State Fieldhouse with tipoff scheduled for 1 p.m.
A 16-9 second quarter gave the top-seeded Moriah Lady Vikings the edge they needed to advance to the Section VII/Class D championship game Feb. 25 with a 54-37 win over Minerva/Newcomb.
The Lady Mountaineers held an 11-9 lead after the first quarter of play but struggled with shooting consistency in the face of a smothering Moriah defense.
“It was a great effort by both teams,” Mountaineers head coach Bruce McGinn said after the game. “They did what they had to do and we didn’t. We expected to win, but we didn’t make any foul shots and we struggled with our shooting percentage.”
“Our defense was just outstanding,” Moriah head coach Erica Tesar said. “We were able to smother the ball and turn it over.”
Astasia Myler led the Mountaineers with 14 points while Makenzie Winslow scored 7. Gabrielle McNally had 6 points to go with 6 rebounds, while Nicole Rubertone pulled down seven rebounds to go with five steals.