SAUQUOIT – The Cooperstown girls basketball team has pride in the intensity they bring in the third quarter.
Last week, the Hawkeyes nearly rallied from a double-digit deficit at halftime against Adirondack.
Wednesday night Cooperstown used that same intensity coming out of the locker room to outscore Sauquoit Valley 16-1 that turned a seven-point halftime deficit into an eight-point lead en route to a 46-45 victory in the Center State Conference Division 3 opener for both teams.
“It was just ‘third-quarter fire’,” Cooperstown junior Piper Seamon said. “Last week we were down by 20 at Adirondack and came out with ‘third-quarter fire’ and nearly won. So we just had that in the back of our minds tonight that we could do the same thing and get the win this time.”
After the Hawkeyes (1-0, 3-2) built a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter, they had to hold on as Moreau, who scored a game-high 26 points, led a late charge before Seamon sealed the victory by making three of four free throws in the final 19.1 seconds.
Seamon and point guard Kate Trosset scored 12 points apiece, while Kate Donnelly had 10 points for the Hawkeyes. The leader of the third-quarter charge was center Emilie Perez, who scored seven of her nine points and grabbed 10 of her game-high 17 rebounds.
“We call it a little bit of third-quarter fire,” Perez said. “We just get really intense, pretend the scoreboard isn’t even there and we just go hard, faceguard and do whatever we have to do.”
Sauquoit Valley controlled the opening half, trailing just once at 6-5 following Trosset’s second 3-pointer. From there it was Moreau, who poured in 16 points in the opening half by showing her offensive versatility in scoring from deep, in the mid-range, and by getting to the hoop.
“Yeah the 16-1 third quarter was the difference,” Cooperstown head coach Mike Niles said. “We didn’t really execute anything really well to begin with and it was just Allie (Moreau) defensive rebounding and getting in the open court … which is bad news.
“I think Emilie Perez had 10 rebounds in that quarter and she was a huge difference. She has a lot of energy and is kind of a sassy kid, in a good way. She’s positive and the girls really appreciate her. She has good hands, good footwork and makes her free throws.”
By dominating the glass in the third quarter, the Hawkeyes not only kept possession, but they also kept Moreau from getting any room in the open court. Cooperstown scored the first 14 points of the quarter to grab a 34-27 advantage and after a single free throw by Moreau, Perez found Seamon for a lay-in to give the Hawkeyes a 36-28 lead after three quarters.
“I think that our guards are not afraid to come in and rebound because we are not a tall group,” Perez said. “We rebound as a team and that helps. This is a big win. It’s a really big push forward for us.”
Instead of getting the defensive rebound and getting out in transition, Sauquoit Valley had to inbounds the ball after Cooperstown baskets, which helped the Hawkeyes more effectively play their triangle-and-two defense on Moreau.
“We just stopped playing defense for some reason,” Moreau said. “Once you get flat on defense and they started scoring we couldn’t find the rhythm on offense like we did in the first quarter and fourth quarters, and that really hurt us. We can’t give up that many offensive rebounds and expect to win.”
The Hawkeyes threatened to blow things wide open early in the fourth as Kate Donnelly hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the lead to 14.
However, Moreau and the Indians didn’t go away as Alex Price started the rally with a short bank in the paint and a baseline jumper that cut the lead to 10 points. After Perez knocked home a free throw, the Indians went on a 10-0 run behind nine straight points from Moreau and a free throw by Adrianna Grande that closed the gap to 43-42 with 38.2 remaining.
After getting a stop, the Indians had a shot at the lead but missed and were forced to foul Seamon, who swished both foul shots for a 45-42 advantage with 19.1 remaining. The Indians went for the tie on their ensuing possession, but Moreau’s 3-pointer fell just short and Seamon, who finished with 10 rebounds, was fouled again. After missing the first, Seamon sealed the win by calmly drilling the second for a four-point lead with 4.9 remaining.
“I was a little nervous,” Seamon said. “I’ve been having difficulty this year with my free throws but it was just a matter of getting back into it. All that matters are the ones at the end.”
Grande did hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to close the final margin to 46-45, which added to the importance of Seamon’s foul shots.
“She had a little off night shooting but came up with 10 boards in the game, three steals and hit the important ones at the end,” Niles said of Seamon.
Sauquoit Valley head coach Devin Clive liked his team’s fight in the final minutes, but wasn’t pleased with the effort in the decisive third quarter.
“The third quarter killed us,” Clive said. “They out-hustled us and it was about heart. They wanted it more than us in the third quarter. Finally, in the fourth quarter we started to play the way we did in the first and second quarter and almost won. It’s tough to dig a hole and dig your way back out. A one-point loss against a good, scrappy team … I’m not happy about it, they were good and tough and out-hustled us in that one quarter, and it cost us.”
Despite the tough defeat, Moreau sees great potential for this team.
“I have really high expectations for us and expect a lot of good things,” Moreau said. “Practicing and improving going forward I think we’ll be really strong.”
Cooperstown 46, Sauquoit Valley 45
Cooperstown 9 11 16 10—46
Sauquoit Valley 14 13 1 17—45
Cooperstown (1-0, 3-2): Piper Seamon 4-4 12; Kate Trosset 5-0 12; Kate Donnelly 4-0 10; Emilie Perez 2-5 9; Lauren Vibbard 1-0 3. Totals: 16-9-46. 3-Pointers: 5 (Donnelly 2, Trosset 2, Vibbard).
Sauquoit Valley (0-1, 3-1): Allison Moreau 10-2 26; Adrianna Grande 2-1 6; Alex Price 2-0 4; Abby Stanimer 2-0 4; Madison McKenny 1-0 3; Marley Inglis 1-0 2. Totals: 18-3-45. 3-Pointers: 6 (Moreau 4, McKenny, Grande).