New Hartford – The first part of the first quarter was as even as can be, as was the second part of the second quarter. What happened in between in Tuesday’s Tri-Valley League girls basketball game made all the difference and Rome Free Academy went on to beat New Hartford 58-45 as a result.
Coach Alissa Tuthill’s Black Knights led just 7-6 when they went on a 12-0 run to end the first quarter. They opened the next stanza with a 12-5 run and built a 15-point lead by halftime. The Spartans never cut their deficit below 12 points the rest of the January 5 game.
“We (just) got too far behind,” NH coach Mike Callan said. “We were watching and didn’t adjust. I don’t know (why).”
NH (3-7) did not adjust to 3-point shooting of RFA (6-4). Miranda Gifford opened the scoring for the visitors with a three and she followed one by Canisius-bound Tiana Pugh to begin the decisive run in the first quarter. Sharifa Taylor and Amanda Wilbert followed with baskets to give RFA a 17-6 edge then Emilee Finley scored late in the first quarter to put RFA up 19-6.
Abby Buchholtz opened the scoring in the second quarter but Pugh scored inside then made two foul shots on a questionable technical foul called against Callan. That made it 23-8 for RFA and Gifford and Pugh added threes in the next two minutes to force NH to call timeout with 2:35 left in the half with the score 31-11.
Taylor Torchia hit a three for the Spartans moments later to lead the hosts on an 8-3 run to close the half and she followed baskets by Michaela Scarafile and Buchholtz with a lay-up off her midcourt steal to get NH within 12 early in the third period. Pugh then hit the last of her threes to ignite a 9-0 RFA run that reasserted the visitors’ control of the game.
“That’s the kind of team we’ve been this year,” Tuthill said after her team ended its four-game losing streak. “We’ve been focusing on gelling and working together. Our effort was there today.”
No one’s effort was better than Pugh’s as the 6-foot-3 senior led all scorers with 26 points. Gifford wound up with 14 for RFA’s other highlight while Torchia scored 15 and Scarafile had 14 to pace Callan’s team in defeat.
“We came out flat, but we battled back,” Callan summarized.
And NH battled to the end. A corner jumper by Abby Hall cut RFA’s lead to 52-40 with 2:53 to go. Seconds later Torchia made a steal. But NH missed two close-in shots to get the deficit down to 10 and Brittany Armstrong made two baskets for RFA against NH’s press down the stretch to end the last comeback hope of the hosts.
RFA 19 15 14 10 – 58
NH 6 13 16 10 – 45
RFA (6-4): Emilee Finley 4, Sharifa Taylor 4, Emily White 2, Amanda Wilbert 4, Miranda Gifford 14, Tiana Pugh 26, Brittany Armstrong 4.
NH (3-7): Taylor Torchia 15, Abby Hall 2, Michaela Scarafile 14, Sam Cichon 2, Abby Buchholtz 12.