Little Falls – When role players score a lot teams have a tendency to roll over opponents. And that’s exactly what happened Thursday when defending Class C state champion Coopertown beat Little Falls 67-40 in girls basketball.
Sure, All-State senior Liz Millea led the way for the Hawkeyes as she usually does, this time with 23 points and a handful of assists, steals and rebounds. And the others starters did their part too as the visitors used a 19-0 run in the first quarter to take command of the Center State Conference tilt. But when a reserve like Ciara McGoldrick scores 11 points or when a newcomer to the sport like exchange student Olga Papaux scores a basket that makes for a great night for the victors.
“They’re a good team,” LF coach Pam Munger said of the 4-0 Hawkeyes. “They play a lot, and they’re quicker than last year.”
That was evident from the start as Julie Ford won the opening tip and got the ball to Maria Noto for a basket in the first few seconds. Laura Wind answered with a nice drive for the Mounties (4-2) seconds later to tie the game but Millea stole a pass shortly after that and went the length of the court for a lay-up that started the 19-0 run. Millea followed that with another drive for two points, Jenn Flynn made a foul shot and Mallory Arthurs made it a 9-2 lead with a pay-up off an offensive rebound. Millea followed that up with a 3-point play that forced Munger to call timeout, but nothing was going to slow down the visitors in the December 10 showdown between two of the area’s strongest Class C programs in the past 10 years.
Millea, Noto and Arthurs scored before the horn sounded and Cooperstown coach Mike Niles had a 21-4 to work with heading into the second period.
McGoldrick got into the scoring act in the second quarter along with Arthurs, Noto and Millea and the Hawkeyes stretched their lead to 35-15. LF played better as the half wound down, with Arielle Raux, Wind, Geena Morotti and Sara Reardon getting into the scoring act. But Cooperstown’s dominance rebounding limited LF’s chances.
Julie Ford got into the scoring column quickly in the third quarter for the visitors and spearheaded a 21-11 burst that ended any hope LF had of making the game close.
“We’ve all played basketball together since around third grade, except Olga, so we have a feel for the game,” Millea said of why her team plays so well together. “We have a passion for it.”
And that passion undoubtedly makes for very competitive practices. “I have to play against her (Millea) in practice,” McGoldrick said with a sigh, then a smile. “It’s hard. It’s a good program and a lot of girls get together on our day off and play in the gym. The girls want to play.”
Beating the defending state champions last year en route to winning the program’s first state title did not leave this year’s group complacent. Cooperstown has dominated every foe this season to date and is gearing up for a chance at another title. And that’s something Papaux, a student who played only in physical education classes in Switzerland, is enjoying.
“It’s very fun,” Papaux said. “I love it. The girls are very nice to me and the coaches are very good. They help me a lot.” And Papaux helped the Hawkeyes put the finishing touch on Thursday’s win with a basket at the final buzzer.
Noto had 11 points, Arthurs added nine and Ford chipped in with eight to round out Cooperstown’s top scorers. Wind had 11 points and Geena Morotti had 10 to pace the Mounties in defeat.
Cooperstown 21 14 21 11 – 67
Little Falls 4 11 11 14 – 40
Cooperstown (4-0): Julie Ford 8, Olga Papaux 2, Liz Millea 23, Maria Noto 11, Jenn Flynn 3, Ciara McGoldrick 11, Mallory Arthurs 9.
LF (4-2): Maria Morotti 4, Arielle Raux 7, Geena Morotti 10, Sara Reardon 4, Laura Wind 11, Nicole Failing 4.