Late surge gives crown to South Kortright girls

By John Bernhardt
Davenport’s Jackie Gilley has to wish she had a bit more patience as time wound down in Friday night’s Delaware League girls’ basketball title game at SUNY Delhi. With her team leading 35-28 and with only 1:58 left on the clock, aggressive defensive play resulted in Gilley’s fifth foul. The Davenport point guard’s departure from the game would spell doom for the Wildcats as South Kortright rallied to outscore the Wildcats, 12-5, down the stretch and in overtime clinch an exciting, 40-39, Delaware League Championship.
After Gilley’s final foul, SK’s Tallulah Guadagnino hit one of two foul shots to whittle the lead to six points. Kortright cranked up their defensive pressure all over the court, and without Gilley, Davenport struggled to advance the ball past midcourt. The Rams made a steal and drew a foul. After the foul shot bounced off the rim, Renee Craft was there to put back the miss to cut the Davenport lead to 35-31.
Another backcourt steal, this time by Courtney Chambers resulted in Craft drawing a foul and hitting both shots to chip away further at the Wildcats’ margin. Craft used a steal of her own and found Ashley Moeller. Moeller drove across the lane and missed a left-handed lay-up but followed up the miss and was fouled. The two foul shots evened the score at 35-35.
Davenport had a chance to win the contest in the final seconds as Brittany Chase spearheaded a two-on-one drive, dishing a pass to Katie Brown, but Brown’s bank shot chipped off the rim. Seconds later the game went into overtime.
Nikki Holdridge converted a knifing drive giving SK a 37-35 lead with 3:43 left in overtime. Two minutes later, Moeller wove through the lane, changing hands from left to right to nail another score for SK. Davenport’s leading scorer, Samantha Meyerhoff, was fouled and hit both ends of a one-and-one to cut the Rams’ lead to 39-37 with 1:01 left.
Moeller made another steal for SK, and was fouled with 28.7 left. She hit one-of-two shots to stretch the Rams’ lead to three. Meyerhoff lifted a long three-point shot with time running out. The shot was short, but Katie Brown rebounded and scored with the horn sounding shortly after, and SK the Delaware League champs.
Few would have predicted the photo finish in the games opening minutes. SK used strong dribble penetration and offensive rebounding to dominate the opening minutes of play building an 11-4 lead by the quarter break.
With Nikki Holdridge leading the way, the Rams stretched their lead to 16-4 during the opening moments of the second period. But, an 8-2 Davenport run at the end of the half drew the Wildcats within six, 18-12, at the half.
Meyerhoff used two three-point plays, one the old-fashioned way, and buried two two-point field goals to score 10 points and help Davenport stretch the lead to 28-22 going into the final frame.
The first five minutes of the final frame were all Davenport. Gilley’s three-point bomb with 3:15 left gave Davenport their biggest lead of the game at 35-24. Gilley would foul out shortly after, and the Rams would use her absence to turn the tide with their dramatic late game heroics. The Rams finished their season undefeated and are the number one ranked Class D team in the state.