New York girls race past Pennsy, 64-35

New York girls race past Pennsy, 64-35

By: Jeff Uveino | Olean Times Herald | March 28, 2022 | Photo courtesy Paul Burdick Sports Images

PORTVILLE - The afternoon, as both sides reiterated afterward, was not about the scoreboard.

The New York girls, however, enjoyed a successful 40 minutes in the sixth annual Big 30 Senior Classic. NY's All-Stars rolled over Pennsylvania, 64-35, in an exhibition of the area's best graduating basketball players at Portville Central School.

Three double-digit scorers complimented the stingy defense that fueled NY on the court, but off the court, each side was fueled by camaraderie.

"It was a really great experience," NY coach Molly McMahon said. "They were just a great group of young ladies. I hope they had fun and I hope they enjoyed it, because like I told them, time flies and hopefully they can look back on this game and remember it fondly."

Gianna DeRose (Allegany-Limestone), Jawdyn Mucher (Fillmore) and Myah Fox (Pioneer) each scored 10 points to lead NY. Pennsy jumped out to a quick lead, but NY turned the tide late in the first half before cruising the rest of the way.

"We had some strong shooters and a lot of good kick-outs to get the ball to them," said McMahon, who coached in place of her father, former Olean coach Don Scholla. "We talked about moving the ball, getting in the gaps and attacking the basket. We'd dribble penetrate then look to kick the ball outside, which opened up some shots."

Payton Delhunty (Ridgway), who finished with seven points, helped spark Pennsy to an early advantage. She and Courtney Martin (Northern Potter) helped the Keystone State control the paint early, as did Isabelle Caskey (St. Marys), who led Pennsy's rebounding effort early.

"Both groups played well as a unit," Pa. coach Eric Lutz said. "There were some times that we got caught standing around, because they're not used to playing with each other, but I thought the girls did a nice job of running offenses and talking on defense."

After a slow start as a team, Alex Minnekine (Cattaraugus-Little Valley) sparked NY's offense with a 3-pointer at the 12-minute mark. Emily Costello (Wellsville) followed with a trey of her own to give the Empire State its first lead, and from there, NY's offense began to catch fire.

NY's outside shooting helped it keep pace as Pennsy controlled the paint in the early minutes, but as time went on, the group from north of the border began to take over inside, as well. A surge across the first half's final five minutes gave NY its first separation of the game.

Mia Welty (Portville) and DeRose started the second half with 3-pointers for NY, and as the clock showed 15 minutes remaining, their team's lead eclipsed 20 points for the first time.

Welty and her twin sister, Mallory, helped lead a stout NY defensive effort. Sharing the court, the Weltys cut down opposing passes and, in doing so, created easy baskets on the other end of the floor.

Mia Welty finished with six points while Mallory Welty scored five. Minnekine, meanwhile, racked up nine points and Costello added six.

Caskey scored a game-high 10 points for the Keystone group while Martin added eight points and Mikenna Farabaugh (Cameron County) tacked on six.

"It was fun for the girls," Lutz said. "I enjoyed it, being away from coaching for four years and now being able to come back. The girls listened and wanted to do things right, and I thought it was a great experience for them to finish their career on."

The teams had little pregame time to develop chemistry, as their first group practices began 30 minutes before tip-off. That short time, however, allowed for the building of numerous friendships.

"It takes a few minutes to warm up, then they were all friendly and happy with each other," Lutz said. "Some of the girls knew each other from attending camps or playing against each other, so the camaraderie and energy were there from the beginning. It seemed like they were excited to be here."

The Big 30 awarded a scholarship to each team, as Julie Peterson (Ridgway) and Anayah Parks-Barker (Olean) were each recognized. Pennsylvania later won the boys' version of the game, 109-96.

"Basically, I let them decide if they wanted to play man or zone and, after that, we just let them play," Lutz said. "It's an honor to be selected to do this, and to coach these young ladies before they go off to college."