WAYLAND — It wasn't enough to see a bunch of Livingston County Division I teams knock each other off in the opening rounds of the Section V, Class B tournament, but in Friday night's match-up it was a pair of DI rivals going after each other.
Second-seeded Wayland-Cohocton had bumped off Dansville twice during the regular season, both times by five points. In the second of those contests in Wayland, the Mustangs came from nearly a 20-point deficit to make it a four-point game in the fourth quarter.
On this night when the stakes were much higher, coach Kristen Moose's club elevated its level of play and held off the Golden Eagles as the red & black's upset dream became a reality with a 48-45 conquest in Wayland.
Let's say the third time WAS a charm for Dansville!
Wayland-Cohocton hall-of-fame coach Al Best noted coming into the action, "We're not looking toward the semifinals or the finals at all. Dansville is a good team, with good coaching, and quality players. You have to take them very seriously. The game I'm most worried about is this one with Dansville"
On the Mustang bench coach Kristen Moose commented, "This was a great win for us, but the best part is seeing all the things we've been working on throughout the year come together and these girls executing as a team."
Dansville led the contest from beginning to end. The Mustangs at one point held a 14 point advantage.
It took about 1:30 to get things rolling as Baylie Harnish opened the scoring at the 6:38 mark of the first quarter with an inside bucket. Thirty seconds later Grace Rittenhouse buried one of her five trifectas on the night, putting the Mustangs up by five. Rittenhouse's only deuce coupled with a basket by Jackie Blechinger put Dansville in front 12-6 at the end of the quarter.
The second was more of the same, with the exception of Grace Rittenhouse stepping back out and draining three bombs that pushed the Mustangs in front by 14 points at the half 27-13.
Way-Co outscored the Mustangs 32-21 in the second half. The Golden Eagles came out with a renewed passion and scored the first eight points of the third quarter as Alex Button got things going and in the first 2:30 it was now 27-21. The Monmouth-bound senior scored a dozen of Way-Co's 14 points in the third, but late baskets by Jackie Blechenger and Baylie Harnish's score at the buzzer put Dansville back up by double-digits 37-27.
Now it was back against the wall time for the maroon & gold. Alex Button came out and bombed in four three's in the 4th as the Eagles attempted to swoop in on the leaders. Up by a half dozen with just under 2 minutes left, Dansville's Hannah LaPlant came up with a huge steal and took it the distance making it a 46-38 game.
Alex Button came down and swished a trey (46-41), then she was fouled and put a pair of free throws on the board (46-43). Wayland-Cohocton got a huge defensive and offensive play from freshman call-up Kailey Johnson who stole an inbounds pass with 1:11 left and scored making it a 1-point game (46-45).
Moments later with 58 seconds left the Eagles were sent to the free throw line with a chance to tie and take the lead. Both shots missed and Dansville hung onto the advantage and then added to it when Grace Rittenhouse looped a pass over the Way-Co defense to Jackie Blechinger who finished in the paint with :40 left.
Wayland-Cohocton would get a couple of shots, but couldn't connect as the Mustangs would hang on to both the basketball and the lead for a stunning upset of the No. 2 seed as the red & black faithful came home happy punching a ticket to the Class B semis at Honeoye Falls-Lima on Monday night against another team the Mustangs have lost twice to, the Bath-Haverling Rams. Game time is set for 6 p.m., with the winner of that one moving to the Class B finals at Rush-Henrietta on Saturday at 5 p.m.
From a statistical standpoint, Dansville (12-10) was led by Grace Rittenhouse with 17 points and six assists. Jackie Blechinger added 13 points and 13 rebounds with five steals. Baylie Harnish had 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Hannah LaPlant posted 6 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals Hope Didas dished five assists.
For Way-Co (19-3), Alex Button capped her stellar career with 33 points (12 points in the 3rd, 14 in the 4th). No one else scored more than three points for the Eagles.