PLATTSBURGH — After capturing the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference regular-season title Jan. 29, the Elizabethtown-Lewis girls’ basketball team had one more item to cross off its checklist — a Section VII championship.
The Lions (19-1), who received a combined 37 points from Shonna Brooks and Lily Whalen, claimed the Section VII Class D crown with a 49-34 victory over Moriah at the Plattsburgh State Field House Friday.
“We’ve been talking for four years about where this team is going to go,” Elizabethtown-Lewis coach Don Ratliff said. “They’ve been pretty focused all year long that this wasn’t the goal either. I think these guys are pretty prepared to make a run in the state playoffs.”
Elizabethtown-Lewis jumped out to an 8-6 first-quarter lead with all eight points from Brooks and Whalen.
But a 7-2 run during the first 2:02 of the second stanza helped the Lions seize momentum.
“I think we spread the floor a little bit and our pick and roll worked OK,” Ratliff said. “(Brooks) and (Whalen) pick and roll very well. They ran it a couple times and got some success out of it.”
Ratliff’s Lions registered nine of their 17 free throws in the first half, including five made attempts in a 15-point second quarter.
Entering Friday afternoon’s contest, Ratliff’s game plan was to push the Vikings (11-10) tempo.
“We didn’t put a ton of pressure on them, but we tried to make sure they didn’t get a lot of time in their half-court offense,” Ratliff said. “They screened so well, and we were caught off a little bit in the middle of the floor. We wanted to make sure that they didn’t have a lot of time to run two or three times through the paint.”
After an eight-point deficit at the halftime break, Moriah managed to open the third quarter on a 5-2 run.
Lauren Pelkey and Taylor Sprague each contributed for three points in the early going.
However, Elizabethtown-Lewis escaped the third quarter with a 12-11 advantage.
Pelkey and Sprague went on to lead the Vikings in scoring with 12 and seven points, respectively.
Madison Stahl and Sarah Slattery each added four points for Moriah.
The Lions have five veteran starters, four of whom started for Ratliff for four consecutive seasons. He said the veteran leadership proved to pay off down the stretch when they extended the differential to double digits.
“They’re all smart girls with a very high basketball IQ,” Ratliff said. “They play hard and they understand what we’re doing. A lot of times, I make things vague, so they have to figure it out, and they do a pretty good job of it. I don’t have to talk to them a lot out on the court. They really have an idea of what they have to get done.”
With the win, Elizabethtown-Lewis advances to the NYSPHSAA state playoffs.
They’ll meet Section X representative Hammond at SUNY Potsdam Tuesday night for 6 p.m.
Ratliff said they will try and shutdown Red Devils (20-2) senior guard Alyssa Crosby, who averages 18.6 points per game and has scored 25 or more points on six occasions.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen a girl like that all year long,” Ratliff said. “It’s difficult to prepare for someone of her caliber when we don’t have anyone to practice against like that. But we’re going to play hard and I do have a game plan, so we’ll see if we can run it.
Elizabethtown-Lewis 49, Moriah 34
Wykes 0-2-2, Cross 0-2-2, Stahl 2-0-4, Slattery 2-0-4, C. Pelkey 0-1-1, L. Pelkey 3-5-12, Snyder 1-0-2, Sprague 1-5-7. Totals: 9-15-34.
Cassavaugh 2-0-4, Whalen 4-10-18, Brooks 7-5-19, Graves 2-0-4, Ashline 0-2-2, Barnes 1-0-2. Totals: 16-17-49.
Moriah 6 9 11 8 — 34
Lewis 8 15 12 14 — 49
3-point goals: Moriah (1): L. Pelkey.