Waverly girls capture IAC crown
DRYDEN - After a slow first half, Waverly picked up the pace and took control of the IAC Large School championship game with a 16-4 third-quarter run en route to a 49-31 win over Lansing here Thursday night at Tompkins-Cortland Community College.
The win marked the first IAC title for the Lady Wolverines since 2006-07 and the fourth for coach Brian Miller in his 16 years on the Waverly bench.
"The girls worked hard for this," said Miller. "It's quite an accomplishment."
"It feels great, especially since we haven't won one in a while," said Waverly standout Sabrina Bowman.
Reylyn Schwartzhoff led Waverly with 28 points, including 18 in the second half, and eight rebounds, while Sabrina Bowman packed the stat sheet with 12 points, eight steals, six rebounds and six assists, and Jenna Bowman had seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Victoria Cron grabbed eight rebounds and Emily Walker had six boards for the Lady Wolverines, while Emiley Myers had five steals and three assists and Jordan Raupers registered four steals.
The Lady Wolverines took the lead right off the opening tip as Sabrina Bowman hit Schwartzhoff with a pass in the lane that resulted in a conventional three-point play just six seconds into the game.
Three minutes later, Myers knocked down her only bucket of the game - a 3-pointer - to put Waverly up 6-2.
Lansing battled back and took its only lead of the game, at 11-10, on an Audrey Eastman baseline jumper with 6:03 left in the first half.
Moments later, Walker made her only bucket of the game - also a 3-pointer - to give Waverly the lead for good at 13-11.
The teams traded buckets the remainder of the half and the Lady Wolverines took a 17-15 lead into the intermission.
Miller credited Lansing's defense for Waverly's struggles in the first half.
"I give Lansing credit, they are a very good defensive team. I knew everything we scored tonight, we were going to have to earn," he said.
"I think it took our girls a half to realize Lansing is one of the best defensive teams they'll see all year.
"Once we realized that, we started taking the second and third options (in our offense) and started making (shots)," added Miller
He also gave his own team kudos for its defensive efforts.
"I thought we played great defense, that's our forte," said Miller. "We have to pressure the ball and keep it out of the lane and we did a good job of that all night."
Sabrina Bowman opened the second half with a conventional three-point play in transition to push the Waverly lead to 20-15.
Schwartzhoff scored the next three buckets - one off an in-bounds pass from Sabrina Bowman, one on a putback and the last in transition off a feed from Jenna Bowman - to push the lead to 26-15 with 6:02 left in the third quarter.
After back-to-back buckets on the break by Lansing cut the deficit to 26-19, Schwartzhoff scored three consecutive buckets - two off feeds from Sabrina Bowman and the other off an assist from Jordan Raupers - to give Waverly a 32-19 lead with 2:36 left in the third quarter.
Sabrina Bowman credited Miller for a halftime talk that got the team to focus on the task at hand.
"Coming out of the half, (coach Miller) told us we just needed to relax.
"In the first half, we were sloppy, we were rushing the ball and nothing was working for us," she said. "(Miller) told us we needed to run our plays because we were just going through the motions and not actually running them."
Both Miller and Bowman heaped praise on Schwartzhoff.
"We created angles to get the ball down court in transition," said Miller.
And, we got the ball to Reylyn (Schwartzhoff), she dominated the third quarter in transition and our guards found her," he added.
"(Schwartzhoff) was able to get a lot of rebounds," said Bowman. "But we were also able to run the floor and get her up the floor. With her having the speed she has as a big girl, she can finish."
Leading 33-19 heading into the fourth quarter, Waverly put the game way with a 14-4 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Sabrina Bowman, for its biggest lead of the game, at 47-23, with 2:03 remaining in the contest.
Waverly is back in action Tuesday when it hosts Chenango Valley in the quarterfinals of the Section IV, Class B playoffs.