MARCY – Tough, physical defense has made Whitesboro girls basketball a sectional contender in Class A over the past 10-plus seasons.
The Warriors needed all of it during Wednesday’s nonleague clash with Syracuse Academy of Science as the teams battled in an ultra-physical slugfest. In the end, the Warriors pulled away with a decisive 12-2 run in the fourth quarter to earn a 49-37 victory.
Senior point guard Hannah Scott scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the second half and junior sharpshooter Kiley Snow chipped in with 16 points as Whitesboro improved to 2-1 heading into Friday’s Tri Valley League opener against visiting Notre Dame.
“It’s tough to prepare for a team like that … you think you do a good job, but they’re so physical,” Whitesboro head coach Todd Scott said. “I love the way they play. I like physical basketball.
“We talked to the girls at the half about composure, taking care of the basketball and getting the ball in the right people’s hands. Making sure that Hannah and Kiley are possessing the ball a little bit more, and I also thought we did a tremendous job rebounding. Every kid rebounded well. I thought it was a composure thing.”
Aniyah Powell scored 17 points and Freey Pleasants had eight for the Atoms (1-1), who moved up to Class B this season after making it all the way to the Class C state final last season.
It was a sluggish and sloppy start offensively as both teams had a tough time getting good shots against two long and athletic defenses. The Atoms held a 5-4 advantage in the final minute before Snow quickly tallied five unanswered points with a wing 3-pointer, followed by a pair of foul shots that gave the Warriors a 9-5 lead after the opening eight minutes.
Each team found a little offensive rhythm in the second quarter as Powell scored six points to help the Atoms close to within 17-16 at the break.
SAS took its final lead of the game on their opening possession of the third quarter as Xy’El Bradford hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 19-17, but the Warriors gained control with a 9-0 run. After Snow started the run with free throws, Scott hit a baseline 3-pointer and a drove for another hoop before senior center Kelsey Wands hit an elbow jumper to give the Warriors a 26-19 advantage.
Following a driving bucket by Powell, Snow hit a wing 3-pointer and a floater to extend Whitesboro’s lead to double digits (31-21).
“When our shots weren’t falling our bench picked us up and we played really tough defense,” Snow said. “In the second half, our shots started falling and we just wanted it more. SAS is very physical and tough, and it will help us in future games.”
Leading 33-23 in the final minute of third quarter, the Warriors knew a tough, winning team like SAS would make a run and test their resiliency. The Atoms did just that, scoring the final four points of the third, and then the first five points of the fourth on a lay-in by Powell and a long 3-pointer from the top of the key by Pleasants that cut the Warriors’ lead to 33-32 with 5:35 remaining.
The Warriors responded just how Coach Scott had hoped as Hannah drove for a driving scoop and Snow followed with a 3-pointer and two free throws.
“That’s why we schedule them,” Scott said of playing against tough teams like SAS. “We look for the best games that we can find. It’s not always easy to find tough games and we’re happy they came down and I thought our kids did a nice job.”
The Atoms were able to close within seven on two occasions down the stretch, but six free throws by Scott and a put-back by Kylie Cleary cemented the victory for the Warriors.
Scott and Snow did the vast majority of the damage offensively, but they knew how critical the play of their supporting cast was in earning the hard-fought win.
“I have to give a lot of credit to our bigs,” Hannah Scott said. “Even though they may not be happy with their play, they got a lot of rebounds and contested really well … a lot of (this win) is on them.”
Whitesboro began its season over the weekend in the Albany Region for the Coaches Vs. Cancer Tournament. Getting another tough win is good momentum heading into the league schedule beginning with Friday’s home tilt against rival Notre Dame.
“This boosts our confidence a little bit coming off a 1-1 weekend,” Hannah Scott said. “We really needed this, and we’re ready to get back tomorrow (to prepare) for Notre Dame.”
Whitesboro 49, Syracuse Academy of Science 37
SAS 5 11 11 10—37
W’Boro 9 8 16 16—49
SAS (1-0): Aniyah Powell 8-0 17; Freey Pleasants 3-0 8; Xy’El Bradford 2-1 6; Erykah Pasha 2-0 4; Ajahmik Brown 1-0 2. Totals: 16-1-37. 3-Pointers: 4 (Pleasants 2, Powell, Bradford).
W’Boro (1-1): Hannah Scott 6-7 21; Kiley Snow 3-7 16; Kelsey Wands 2-0 4; Kylie Cleary 2-0 4; Alana Batson 1-0 3; Erin Bednarczyk 0-1 1. Totals: 14-15-49. 3-Pointers: 6 (Snow 3, Scott 2, Batson).
JV: Whitesboro won.