By Greg Klein
---- — The Cooperstown’s girls basketball team used a 9-0 start to get a lead on Hamilton it never relinquished on Friday, winning, 59-37, at home.
“I wish I could say we never looked back after that point, but they stayed around all game,” Cooperstown coach Mike Niles said. “You might not know from the score, but they played us tough. They always do.”
Despite losing its first game of the season to end 2012 (to Holland Patent, 34-31, at the VVS Holiday Tournament), Cooperstown (7-1, 3-0) was undefeated in Center State Conference Division III, going into Wednesday night’s game against Sauquoit Valley. The game was not completed by press time.
Against Hamilton, freshman point guard Liz Millea led all scorers with 18 points, while Nicole Cring and Alannah Haggerty had 11 and 10 rebound, respectively.
“I think the biggest thing for us was we were working really well guarding in half court defense,” Niles said. “Nicole and Alannah were getting lots of rebounds and that helped our offense.”
Haggerty had all nine of her rebounds in the first half, including five in the first quarter. She also scored nine points.
Cring had six points and two blocks to go with her rebounds.
Sumer Murdoch and Maggie Hall scored 10 points each.
Hamilton lost longtime standout Katie Weeks to graduation in 2012, but still gave the Redskins trouble, Niles said.
“The Weeks father (Gary) is the coach there now. He said she had offers for scholarships for basketball and softball, but she is actually doing crew at Lafayette College,” Niles said. “Of course, they still have her sister.”
“You wouldn’t know from the score,” he continued, “but their guards gave us trouble all game. It was not relaxing.”
Hayleigh Hansen scored 11 points to lead the Emerald Knights, while Jess Welch scored 10, and Lauren Weeks scored eight.
The weather allowed only one day of a holiday tournament, but in the VVS Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28, the Redskins lost to HP. Both teams had leads in the final quarter and with the lead changing hands several times in the closing minutes.
Niles said the difference was the Golden Knights relentless switching of zone defenses.
“I think I was caught off guard by how much they changes defenses,” he said. “They mixed defense very well.
“They are class B, but it seems like they are always blocked,” Niles said of HP’s playoff chances. “They are very good. I don’t know if they are good enough to beat one of the Syracuse teams.”
Cooperstown will play host Vernon-Verona-Sherrill on Jan. 23 in the consolation game of the VVS Holiday Tournament.
Cooperstown will travel to Sherburne-Earlville on Friday and will host Mohawk on Tuesday.
Cooperstown 59, Hamilton 37
HAMILTON: Jess Welch 4 0-0 10, Lauren Weeks 3 0-0 8, Sarah Foster 1 0-0 2, Teanna Wilcox 2 0-0 4, Hayleigh Hansen 3 5-7 11, Kendall Rusch 1 0-0 2, Bridgette Blaine 0 0-1 0. TOTALS: 14 5-8 37.
COOPERSTOWN (7-1, 3-0): Nicole Cring 2 2-6 6, Sumer Murdock 3 3-4 10, Alannah Haggerty 3 3-3 9, Micayla Church-Foster 0 0-0 0, Maggie Hall 4 0-0 10, Lucy Ford 1 1-2 3, Ellen Vibbard 0 1-2 1, S.J. Morosko 1 0-0 2, Caitlyn Briggs 0 0-2 0, Elizabeth Millea 6 5-6 18. TOTALS: 20 15-25 59.
Hamilton 8 8 5 16 _ 37
Cooperstown 19 12 15 13 _ 59
Three-point field goals: H 4 (Welsh 2, Weeks 2); C 3 (Millea, Murdoch, Hall). JV score: Cooperstown won.