Mustangs rally past Pal-Mac for B1 title
GATES — The Palmyra-Macedon girls had plenty of everything they needed in the first half.
But in the second, they got plenty of Arayana Young. And simply put, it was too much.
Dansville’s 6-foot-2 junior scored 11 straight points in the third quarter to help the Mustangs erase an eight-point deficit and roll to a 64-52 victory in Saturday’s Section V, Class B1 championship game at Gates Chili.
It marked the second straight Section V title for the Mustangs (21-2).
Young, the tournament MVP, scored 13 points in that decisive third quarter for the Mustangs, who had trouble in the first half containing the athleticism of Pal-Mac’s Andra Savage. The senior scored 11 points in the first half as the Red Raiders (18-5) built leads of 17-12 and 28-23.
That final five-point lead was significant not only because of Katie Smyth’s 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in the half that made it that way, but because of the defense that kept it that way. Dansville had a final look to cut the deficit just before the horn, but the Red Raiders dashed the opportunity with a smothering defense that forced a turnover.
But it all changed not long after the Red Raiders extended their lead to 36-31 early in the third. That’s when Young went on her tear, draining four straight baskets, sinking a free throw and then adding one more basket to give Dansville a 42-36 lead.
“Defense,” said Pal-Mac coach Dan Harris. “We did not play great defense in the second half. We gave up 41 points in the second half after holding them to 23 in the first.”
And really, that sums the game. The obvious question then is, what took Dansville so long to unleash Young? It was a combination of Pal-Mac’s defense and Dansville’s lack of execution on offense.
“In the second half, we needed tighten up on defense because that was lacking in the first,” said Dansville coach Kristen Kershner. “But offensively, we were missing our openings and rushing things. We just needed to settle down and work the ball.”
Senior guard Grace Rittenhouse knew it was just a matter of time for Young.
“We knew ‘Ray’ would be the one to help us,” said Rittenhouse. “So we just wanted to get the ball to her as much as we could. She’s a beast down there and no one can stop her.”
And when Pal-Mac shifted to double Young, she had the awareness to kick it outside early in the fourth, when baskets from Rittenhouse and two from Madison Lee pushed Dansville’s lead to 54-41.
“They’re a championship team for the last couple of years,” said Harris. “We have championship athletes on this team, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been here for basketball.”
And while there is no championship for the Red Raiders, they are taking plenty of pride in reaching the B1 final as No. 4 seed, especially after they were left out of much of the pre-season chatter.
“I love my kids and the way they fought all season,” said Harris. “We weren’t in any of the conversations about contenders, but here we are. The season didn’t end the way we wanted it to end, but it was still a successful season.”
Young finished with 20 points, 4 rebounds and 4 blocks while Lee scored 15 points and Hannah LaPlant had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Brielle Caruso posted 5 points and 9 rebounds. Grace Rittenhouse had 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals and 1 block. Sidney Stone contributed 4 points, 6 rebounds 5 assists and 1 steal.
Savage led Pal-Mac with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks while Smyth scored 19, including four 3-pointers.
Dansville will play Class B2 champion Penn Yan on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Bath in a Class B qualifier.