Sauquoit – Sidney Talma spent all fall in the shadow of her senior sister Jordan. Wednesday night she picked a great time to emerge from it.
The Sauquoit Valley sophomore scored four of her team’s points in the last two minutes of their Class C quarterfinal game against Pulaski and it helped key a 61-54 victory.
“Me and Jordan had a play,” Sidney said of the tie-breaking basket she made off a pass from Jordan with 1:10 to play. And after Allison Moreau followed her missed foul shot with a basket, Sidney made a steal to help wind the clock down and with 38.5 left she made another basket inside to stretch the lead to 59-54 and the foul-plagued Blue Devils could not rally.
“We were all wicked nervous,” Sidney said of her team’s pregame and in-game jitters. “Coach told us to just keep hustling and pass the ball. We all really did it.”
Indeed. Sauquoit Valley used superb balance to beat sixth-seeded but No. 3 state-ranked Pulaski in a wild game. Morgan Jordahl, the Blue Devils’ top scorer and a 6-foot senior, fouled out early in the fourth period and her team trailed 50-39 after Moreau made the ensuing foul shots. But Pulaski battled back to take the lead at 53-52 as freshman Lauren Denny and senior Lindsey Prye led the charge. Jordan Marsh started the Blue Devils’ critical 14-2 run with a basket off a pass from Denny then Denny made a three on the fast break. Denny made another a minute later and suddenly it was 50-49.
Prye made a basket with 2:25 left to knot the game then Jordan Marsh followed a Haylie Inglis foul shot with a basket off an offensive rebound with 1:48 to play. Inglis knotted the game when Pulaski’s Abby Hanley fouled out with 1:38 to play then Sidney Talma made the first of her dramatic shots down the stretch to help coach Tim Clive’s team pull away.
“Our defense was tough,” Clive said of a key to Sauquoit Valley (19-3) earning the right to play in this weekend’s semifinals. “We’ve got great quickness. This is the group I knew would be tough. We haven’t had this kind of record since 2003.”
And it was a record that was in doubt as Pulaski entered the game 16-4 and with three of the losses to Class B and AA schools. But the hosts caught a break early when Pulaski coach Casey Jones gambled and lost when he left Jordahl in the game after the senior picked up two fouls in the first 2:06 of the game. Jordahl was called for her third foul less than two minutes later in the February 17 contest and sat down.
The score was 6-6 then and Sauquoit Valley took advantage of Jordahl’s time on the bench to build a 22-13 lead late in the first half. Jones gambled again with 3:23 to go and put her back in. The team’s leading scorer responded like a champion by helping the Blue Devils cut Sauquoit Valley’s lead to just three by halftime.
But Jordahl was called for her fourth foul on a disputed play with 6:11 left in the third period and sat down again. Again the hosts stretched their lead, but freshman Sam Paternoster helped keep the Blue Devils close with five straight points and Prye made a three to knot the game at 32-32. That’s when Moreau, a freshman, got hot from the field and sparked a run that Isabella Arrigo capped with two threes and the hosts led 48-39 with eight minutes to go. Moreau drew a fifth foul from Jordahl just 35 seconds into the fourth period and that set up the dramatic finish.
“We had great floor leadership from our seniors,” Clive said as he breathed a sigh of relief after the game. “We needed it. They’re very fast.”
Jones, obviously disappointed after his first season at the helm in Pulaski ended with a league title but a close loss the tourney, was succinct afterward.
“It’s disappointing, but Sauquoit played well. I tip my cap to our seniors and wish Sauquoit luck the rest of the way,” the veteran coach said.
Moreau had 22 points and both Talmas had 10 to pace the hosts on offense. Denny had 18 points and Paternoster had 14 to lead the Blue Devils in defeat.
Pulaski 11 11 17 15 – 54
Sauquoit Vly 18 7 23 13 – 61
Pulaski (16-5): Morgan Jordahl 7, Jordan Marsh 6, Lindsey Prye 9, Lauren Denny 18, Sam Paternoster 14.
Sauquoit Valley (19-3): Marissa Jones 5, Jordan Talma 10, Haylie Inglis 6, Allison Moreau 22, Isabella Arrigo 8, Sidney Talma 10.