ITHACA – A year ago, Newfield girls’ basketball coach Brandon Steinorth sat in the stands at Tompkins Cortland Community College watching the Trojan boys’ team take on Moravia for the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Small School title.
Steinorth and his squad (14-4) will be there again Friday night, but this time, it won’t be as mere spectators.
The Newfield girls will help kick off IAC Small School championship Friday when they take on Moravia (14-4) at 6 p.m. in the girls’ final. That will be followed at 8 by the boys’ title game, once again featuring the Trojans (15-1) and the Blue Devils (15-3), who will be seeking their third straight IAC title and fifth in the last six years.
Steinorth, in his second year as head coach after taking over for long-time coach Gary Emerson, is hoping to lead the Trojans to their first IAC championship since 1980. Newfield, which won the South Small Division with a 10-3 record, is led by the dual-threat backcourt tandem of Mariyah Byrd and Sierra Henry, both of whom average around 16 points a game.
Byrd, the team’s point guard, also dished out eight assists and grabs seven rebounds per outing. Henry is particularly dangerous in transition, Steinorth said, but added that her halfcourt game has improved this year.
Coach John Crossgrove’s Moravia squad has several options offensively, Steinorth said, and is not like a typical small-school team.
“A lot of times in Class C basketball, a team will have one or two superstars,” he said, “but from what we’ve seen of them this year, they’ve got five or six girls that have scored in double-figures. We’re just going to need to do what we do well on defense, which is close people out well, limit second and third opportunities and just play good, sound defense.”
Newfield will alternate between man-to-man and zone defenses, Steinorth said.
In last year’s Small School title game, Southern Cayuga defeated Candor, 60-51.
• The boys’ game will feature two teams ranked in the top 25 in the state Class C poll. Newfield (15-1), ranked 12th this week, was in the top 10 for much of the season, rising to as high as sixth before suffering its first defeat of the season, a 49-35 loss at Watkins Glen on Feb. 10. The Senecas’ 49 points were the second-most allowed by Newfield all season, the most coming in a 68-52 defeat of Newark Valley on Jan. 9.
For the season, Newfield is allowing just over 35 points per game and has held its opponent to 30 or fewer points six times.
Offensively the Trojans are led by senior guard Brian Barrett (15.7 ppg.), the nephew of head coach Duane Barrett, along with 6-5 senior forward Dekhari Stewart (10.2 ppg., 8.4 rpg.).
Moravia, ranked 24th in the latest state Class C poll, is coming off a 93-43 defeat of Tioga a week ago. Cody Flick, a 6-2 senior forward, led the Blue Devils with 24 points while junior guard Jared Lyon and 6-2 sophomore Gabe Short chipped in 13 apiece.
The Blue Devils, coached by Todd Mulvaney, defeated Newfield in the Small School final a year ago, 57-37, and two years ago rallied past Odessa-Montour, 55-51.
In addition to its four IAC titles over the last five seasons, Moravia has won four of the last five Section 4 titles and defeated Newfield in the Class C semifinals a year ago, 50-39, before falling to Elmira Notre Dame, 65-62, in the final.
In the 2013 sectional title game, the Blue Devils topped Watkins Glen, 52-41, and advanced all the way to the state Class C semifinals before falling in overtime to eventual champion Lake George. That marked Moravia’s second trip in four seasons to the state final four; the team lost in the 2010 semifinals to eventual champ Buffalo Middle College.
Small School finals
Friday at TC3
Girls: Moravia (14-4 overall, 9-3 division) vs. Newfield (13-4, 10-3), 6 p.m.
Boys: Moravia (15-3, 11-2) vs. Newfield (15-1, 12-1), 8 p.m.