DRYDEN – Whitney Point is the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Large Division girls basketball champion after clawing its way back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Waverly 59-56 in overtime Thursday night at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
The Eagles (13-5) scored the last five points of the extra session. Three of them came from junior guard Graci Standish-Warpus, whose basket with 1 minute, 58 seconds to go tied the game at 56-all. She also hit the front end of a one-and-one with 2.2 seconds left, and Waverly was unable to get a potential game-tying shot off before the final buzzer.
The Wolverines did get one off in regulation that sent the game into overtime. Senior guard Kiana Manuel nailed a 3 from the left side shortly before time ran out.
Whitney Point senior forward Jessica Cafferty finished with a game-high 27 points, keeping her team in the game with 21 points in the second half. Standish-Warpus and Bri Sturdevant each finished with 11.
“She’s like the Energizer Bunny. She never stops going,” Eagles coach Thomas Kraly said of Cafferty.
Waverly coach Robert Kelly thinks she’s more ferocious than that.
“She’s a beast. It’s hard to battle with her,” Kelly said. “She’s a strong, solid player.”
The Wolverines (16-3) led 48-38 with 5:29 remaining in regulation. Cafferty responded with 10 points the rest of the fourth quarter, including a run of eight in a row that cut Whitney Point’s deficit from 49-40 with 5:08 left to 49-48 with 2:45 to go.
On Friday, Waverly beat Whitney Point on a buzzer-beater, and Cafferty said she learned something from that game.
“They don’t have much height, but they’re very quick,” she said of the Wolverines.
With that in mind, Cafferty bulled her way under the boards to make tough shots and draw fouls.
Cafferty converted off an offensive rebound with 44 seconds left in regulation to put the Eagles up 52-51, their first lead since 3:11 into the second quarter when the score was 20-19. Standish-Warpus then hit both ends of a one-and-one to make it 54-51 with 15.7 seconds on the clock.
Kelly said he designed the game-tying play for Manuel, with hot-shooting freshman Alex Tomasso also an option. They ended up with 14 points each, while Kylie Newman added 12 and Elle Nittinger 11.
“There’s nothing like game experience,” Kelly said.
Kraly said he told him team to enjoy the experience going into overtime, but Cafferty called it “scary.”
Not so for senior Brittney Randall, who scored all eight of her points in the first quarter to help the Eagles keep pace with Waverly.
“We knew we could get it in overtime,” she said.
The game was close right up toward the end of the third before Manuel and Tomasso drained treys in the last 1:06 of the quarter to turn a tie game into a 40-34 Waverly lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Kraly said he appreciates the rivalry between Whitney Point and Waverly.
“We’ve played 68 minutes,” he said. “Just one point separates us.”
On Twitter: @SGJoeMink