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State Basketball Final Four: Scouting Reports
All games at Hudson Valley Community College, Troy
Class AA semifinal
Ossining (20-4) vs. Sachem East (20-1)
When: Friday, 6:15 p.m.
How they got here: Ossining knocked off Monroe-Woodbury in the regional final, 79-50. Sachem East defeated Massapequa, 55-50, in the Long Island championship.
Marquee matchup: Saniya Chong, Ossining vs. Katie Doherty, Sachem East. Doherty is the team’s leading scorer at 16.7 points per game but has a strong supporting cast around her. The game will be decided by Doherty’s defense against Chong, who's Section 1’s all-time best player. Chong is averaging a staggering 35 points, 9.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 steals per game this season is less than 100 point away from 3,000 for her career.
Know the opponent: Sachem East has been streaking of late. Doherty, a 5-9 guard, is a terrific shooter and is at her best when she's getting to the rim. Kathleen Everson is a solid 5-11 post player and Sammy Drake and Emily Carmel are versatile guards. Sachem East, though, barely goes into its bench and gets the majority of its scoring from three players.
Game breakdown: The numbers alone tilt this game strongly in Ossining’s favor. The Pride are averaging 30 points more per game and will rotate in twice as many players as the Section 11 champions. Doherty is a special talent and will be as good of a player that Chong has faced in the state this season. But there’s just far too much talent on this Ossining roster to get tripped up.
KDJ’s pick: Ossining 76, Sachem East 62. Doherty will keep Sachem in the game but the Pride will wear them down in the second half and secure a berth in the state title game.
Up next: The winner plays either Gates Chili or Cicero-North Syracuse in the title game at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday night.
Class B semifinal
Irvington (22-2) vs. Oneonta (20-1)
When: Friday, 10 a.m.
How they got here: Irvington beat Long Island champion Southampton 62-41 in the regional final. Oneonta defeated Utica-Notre Dame 57-52.
Marquee matchup: Brittni Lai, Irvington vs. Mariah Ruff, Oneonta. Two of the state’s top guards square off. Lai, a senior headed to Marist, will face her toughest defensive challenge of the postseason in Ruff. The junior is a savvy player with a quality perimeter game. Ruff handles the ball well and is a fearless shooter.
Know the opponent: Oneonta is a lot like Irvington in that they have above-average role players around a superior point guard and post player. Everything on offense for Oneonta goes through Ruff, who leads the team in scoring and handles the ball on most possessions. Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering is a 6-foot-2 post presence that will challenge Irvington star Lexi Martins, a two-time state player of the year, on the boards. Around Ruff and Vanderlaan-Meyering are a strong complement of shooters, rebounders and defenders.
Game breakdown: In four years of playing in the state final four, Oneonta could be Irvington’s toughest matchup. Ruff’s shooting ability and Vanderlaan-Meyering’s interior play are the main reasons why. But the Bulldogs, winners of the last three state championships, are finally facing a team that has the confidence to compete with them.
KDJ’s pick: Irvington 63, Oneonta 57. Expect this game to be decided by single digits. That’s how well Oneonta has played this season, matching up against the top Class AA and A schools in its region. Irvington, though, will find a way, like it always does.
Up next: The winner will face either Section 5’s Waterloo or Section 10’s Salmon River in the championship on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Class C semifinal
Hamilton (18-4) vs. Harpursville (19-3)
When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
How they got here: Hamilton defeated Friends Academy 59-25 in the regional final. Harpursville knocked off Cooperstown 45-43.
Marquee matchup: Tiffany Corselli, Hamilton vs. Miranda Drummond, Harpursville. Corselli willed the Red Raiders to a second straight Section 1 title and two convincing state tournament victories. She's a dynamic guard who can take over a game. Drummond, though, has been the catalyst for Harpursville and is coming off a heroic performance in the regional final. The all-state guard had 26 points, including the game-winning basket with 37 seconds left, to beat Cooperstown.
Know the opponent: Like Hamilton with Corselli and Jasmine Robinson, the majority of Harpursville’s offense comes from two players: Drummond and Savannah Murray. Drummond is averaging 22.5 points per game and Murray scores 15.5 per game. The four players will likely account for over 75-percent of the scoring in the game.
Game breakdown: The Red Raiders have done two things well in the postseason: rebound and defend. Those are their keys to winning a state championship, which seemed like a longshot after losing star guard Maia Hood last month to a knee injury. Kali Gill, though, has been a key part of their run, rebounding and defending in the paint. Hamilton has allowed an average of just 27.5 points in four playoff games but will certainly have their hands full with Drummond. Corselli must answer the challenge.
KDJ’s pick: Harpursville 53, Hamilton 50. While Hamilton has dominated in its two state playoff games, Harpursville is on a different level. The Hornets have experience in the state final four, reaching the state final two years ago. They can handle Hamilton’s tempo
Up next: The winner will meet Bishop Kearney or Ausable Valley in the state final on Sunday at 1:45 p.m.