By LIBBY CUDMORE
It has all the makings of a perfect rivalry.
“In our first game against them, we beat Seton Catholic,” said OHS Yellowjackets coach Jerry Mackey. “Then they came back and beat us by 10 points.”
And on Wednesday, the two teams will square off in a deciding game to see who moves ahead to the Class
B Section IV finals. “Last year, we lost to Seton Catholic at this round,” said Mackey.
“But this year, we’re the only team who has beaten them in a game.”
On Saturday, Feb. 23, they secured their place in the semi-finals after vanquishing rivals Chenango Valley 58-37. Juniors Teddy McGraw and Graham Wooden scored a total 36 points, with McGraw scoring 21 and Wooden scoring 15. “Those two lead in scoring, assists and rebounds,” he said. “They help calm everybody down, and we’re going to really need to rely on them again against Seton Catholic.”
Khi Atchinson sank two three-pointers and Evan Sitts scored seven points on Saturday.
“We had a lot of baskets made by a lot of players,” said Mackey. “And we’ve got really talented guards.”
The third-seeded team is 15-5, and Mackey pointed out that all but one of those losses was by four points or less. “The season’s been going really well,” said Mackey. “We’re beating the teams we’re supposed to beat. We’ve got enough talent to hang around.”
It won’t be easy to take down Seton Catholic, but Mackey is confident that his team has what it takes. “I tell them, we don’t have to play amazing, just well enough to beat them,” he said.
The Lady Yellowjackets also took home a victory against Whitney Point on Saturday with 53-43 to advance to the Class B Section IV semi finals, but lost 67-40 to Norwich on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
“Honestly, it’s been a great year,” said Coach Matt Miller. “We had 15 wins, the most since 2014, the last time we went to the semi-finals.”
Second-seeded, senior-heavy Norwich was a long-time rival, Miller said. “They’re ranked fourth in the state,” he said, “We’ve played them twice, and they handled us pretty easily.”
But he praised the team’s strengths. “The way we shoot from the perimeter has kept us in,” he said. “We usually score 13 or more three-point shots. That’s our signature.”
Senior Taylor Microni broke Moriah Ruff’s record of 205 career three pointers in her last game with OHS. She had the second-highest number of varsity games in the school’s history, and averaged more than a dozen points per game.
And with several sophomores on his team, including Hannah Johnson, Anika Buzzy and Ava Eichler, he believes the team has other strong seasons in the future.
Wednesdays winning team will take on the winner of the Norwich vs. Owego Free Academy, slated to play at 6 p.m. that evening, in the finals on Saturday, March 2 at the Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Binghamton.
And with seniors Sitts, Ryan Packard and Marlano Hernandez set to graduate this year, Mackey said he wants to send them off in style.
“You want to push that last game off as long as you can for those guys,” he said. “It’s been a fun year, and they’re a great group.”