Margaretville girls top Jefferson, but lost to Stamford earlier last week

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By John Bernhardt

Standing erect with her hands stretched high, Margaretville’s Sami Hunt can present an imposing challenge for opposing basketball teams.

Hunt might swat a shot away, tip a ball enough to change its course to the basket or simply alter the way an opposing player opts to launch the ball toward the basket. The result is often the same, a blocked shot or missed attempt with Margaretville gaining possession of the ball. Hunt’s defensive play was a huge factor in helping her Blue Devils to their first victory of the season, a 47-33 victory over Jefferson last week.

Keeping it close
After Jefferson’s Shania Speenburgh nailed a three-point shot to draw Jefferson within a point at 20-19 in the closing minutes of the first half, Hunt kicked her game into high gear. Recognizing teammate Annette Hogan’s intention to drive to the basket, Hunt used a screen to clear a route for a score. Hunt then stole a pass on the Margaretville press, quickly shuffling a pass to Hogan who buried a three-point bomb to up the lead to 25-19. Shiann Bellinger’s drive to the basket beating the half-time horn sent the teams to the lockers with Margaretville nursing a 25-21 lead.

Hunt’s defense presence was daunting in the second half. Again and again, the JayHawks drove the ball to the basket but failed to get past the Blue Devils’ side of the floor. On the other end of the floor, Hogan scored from inside and out, netting 12 of her game-high 21 points. Margaretville stretched their advantage to 33-26 after three quarters before outscoring their guests 14-7 in the final frame. Bruno reached double digits with 10 points for Margaretville.

Margaretville dropped a heartbreaking 40-37 decision to Stamford on their home court earlier in the week. Both teams struggled to handle the ball in the early going with Stamford ahead 8-3 after one quarter. The helter-skelter play continued in the second quarter with both teams often moving faster than they could control the ball. Stamford held a 14-10 lead at the half.

Trailing 16-13 in the opening minutes to the second half, back-to-back three-point shots by Cora Bruno gave Margaretville their first lead since 1-0 and finally got the Blue Devils in gear. Stamford ran off six consecutive points to retake the lead, 22-19, but Alana Moskowitz put back a missed shot and Hogan buried a three-pointer, and the Blue Devils led, 22-21.

Stamford went on a five-point run on a Nora Hager foul shot and two Kim Freer field goals. Bruno put back a long offensive rebound to narrow the gap to 27-26 at the three quarter break.

A Hager drive with less than four minutes to play built the Indians’ lead to 37-32. Two Hunt foul shots, a Hogan running eight-footer down the lane, and one of two Hogan foul shots evened the score at 37-37 with 2:44 to play.

Hogan’s points would be the last points the Blue Devils would score. Both teams missed the front ends of one-on-ones, then with 35 seconds to play Stamford’s Brandy Fane was left open on an out-of-bound play and nailed a shot from the outside.

The Blue Devils had a two-on-one break to the basket in the closing second but could not capitalize. Freer’s foul shot with seconds to play ended the hardwood drama.