Mustangs complete perfect season with Class B2 Championship
CALEDONIA — The No. 1 Dansville Mustangs capped off a perfect 22-0 season by winning the Section V, Class B2 Championship Friday night in Caledonia-Mumford, defeating No. 2 Wellsville by a 62-52 final.
The Lady Mustangs trailed 8-2 in the opening minutes, but ripped off a huge 18-0 run to end the first quarter that gave them a lead that was never relinquished. Wellsville turned in a valiant effort and nearly staged a comeback, but Dansville made a few clutch plays down the stretch in order to earn the program’s first ever Section V Championship.
“This is so unbelievable. I mean, the fact that we made Dansville history — it’s so awesome to think about how we are the people who get to put a number on the banner for the very first time,” said Dansville senior Jackie Blechinger.
“It’s unbelievable. There is no feeling like it. I really don’t know. I’m speechless because there is no feeling like this,” said Dansville’s Grace Rittenhouse.
“It’s pretty awesome (to be undefeated). It’s definitely not something that we expected, but the girls have put in so much work in practice and during the offseason that they really deserve this,” said Dansville head coach Kristen Moose.
Wellsville came out from the tip with an aggressive defense and a excess of energy. And when Jana Whitehouse buried back-to-back 3-pointers, the Lions had an 8-2 lead halfway through the first.
But the Mustangs quickly settled in and turned up the defensive pressure on their own end. A couple of steals led to fast break layups from Grace Rittenhouse, and Hannah LaPlant buried a 3-pointer to give Dansville the 9-8 advantage.
Wellsville took a timeout, but the Mustangs were on a roll. Dansville continually pushed the offensive pace, and the combination of Jackie Blechinger and Arayana Young on the glass was too much to handle as the first quarter run went up to 18-0 and gave the Mustangs a 20-8 lead going into the second.
“Our nerves coming into the championship were going to be high. But we figured out that we could just settle down and work the ball into the post. We just needed to relax and learn how to play through all of the ruckus. We just knew that we had to keep going even if they got ahead,” said Rittenhouse.
The Wellsville offense picked up at the start of the second and ended the scoreless run. The Lions efficiently moved the ball around to generate some easy looks in an attempt to close the gap.
But Dansville’s shooting was relentless, and the Mustangs simply gave the ball to whoever was open in order to keep the lead at 27-15 halfway through the second quarter. The Mustangs showed off just how comfortable they were with each other throughout the stretch, as several different Dansville players contributed buckets during the stretch.
“The chemistry they have is nice because its tough for the defense to worry about any one girl. They are very unselfish, and they just pass the ball to the open person. Nobody here really cares who is doing the scoring,” said Moose.
“It’s nice because we don’t have arguments between the players. We just know where we are going to be. We know how each other plays, so we are always there for each other,” said Blechinger.
“We are just so comfortable with each other. We have been playing together for so long and we know exactly what is going to be there. We just trust each other and we just keep going. The outcome has always been great, so we just keep doing it,” added Rittenhouse. Wellsville slowly chipped away at the lead to close the half, but every time the Lions made any sort of run, the Mustangs responded with an equal run that kept the lead in double digits.
But Wellsville’s Quincy Buckley buried a pull-up 3-pointer as time expired to cut Dansville’s lead down to 33-24 at the halftime break.
The teams continued to trade buckets and small scoring runs at the start of the second half. Once again, each team was able to generate points by dialing up the defensive intensity, getting steals and making fast break layups.
As a result, Dansville’s lead remained stagnant at 38-28 halfway through the third.
Wellsville spent the next minute cutting the lead down to single digits, but the Mustangs quickly took back control.
Dansville closed the quarter on a 7-2 run that pushed its lead out to 45-32 going into the final frame.
"We just weren’t able to capitalize in that last four minutes of the first quarter and dug a hole," said Wellsville coach Michelle Alvord. "Taylor Adams picking up that second foul in the first quarter was huge. I thought we did a good job of getting stops, unfortunately we just weren’t able to convert as many of those as we needed to.
"Obviously second chance points for them versus our second chance opportunities were huge. We had six offensive rebounds. The kids fought hard. That group of seniors did not want to go out that way, but they clawed tooth and nail and gave everything they had tonight. I’m very proud."
Wellsville’s offense grinded out the first few possessions of the fourth quarter and got a few buckets, but Dansville simply force fed Blechinger and Young, ensuring that the lead was safe at 51-39 with three minutes left to play.
But the Lady Lions has one final push left up their sleeve. Led by Whitehouse and Buckley, Wellsville locked down on defense and started knocking down some deep shots.
Wellsville got it down to seven points in the last minute, but Dansville made some final free throws in order to come away with the 62-52 win.
Arayana Young led the way with 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks for the Mustangs and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team. Jackie Blechinger also earned an All-Tournament Team selection, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and one steal. Grace Rittenhouse was named the Tournament MVP for her stellar performance throughout sectionals. She finished Friday’s game with 12 points, one rebound, one assist and four steals. Hannah LaPlant rounded out the double-digit scoring, turning in 11 points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal.
The Mustangs will play Class B1 champion Midlakes at a time and place yet to be determined in the NYS Qualifier.
“They don’t want the season to end. I don’t want the season to end. I’m looking forward to now seeing how far we can go and how well we can do,” said Moose.
“For coach, its celebrate until midnight, and then reset,” added Blechinger.
Wellsville was led by All-Tournament player Quincy Buckley’s 20 points. Jana Whitehouse also picked up an All-Tournament honor and added 14 points in the loss. The Lady Lions wrap up the season with an overall record of 16-6.
Visit the photo galleries section of the website for more images from the game.
No. 2 Wellsville 8 16 8 20 — 53
No. 1 Dansville 20 13 12 17 — 63
WELLSVILLE: Marley Adams 3 0-0 8, Quincy Buckley 7 3-4 20, Emily Costello 1 0-0 2, Taylor Adams 1 0-0 2, Jana Whitehouse 5 1-2 14, Regan Marsh 2 0-0 4, Mattie Buckley 1 0-1 2. Totals 20 4-8 53. 3-pointers: Adams (2), Buckley (3), Whitehouse (3).
DANSVILLE: Hannah LaPlant 2 6-10 11, Grace Rittenhouse 5 1-1 12, Madison Akers 3 0-0 6, Jackie Blechinger 6 3-4 14, Arayana Young 4 10-14 18. Totals 20 20-31 63. 3-pointers: Rittenhouse, LaPlant.