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By: Tim Taylor | Waverly Athletics | January 4, 2023 | Photo courtesy David Alliger


WAVERLY — Waverly struggled to find the inside of the room late in Wednesday’s IAC South Large School girls basketball showdown with Newark Valley and came out on the short end of a 45-38 verdict.

The Wolverines managed just two points in the final 4:55, managing one Paige Robinson field goal with just under one minute remaining. By that time, NV had scored nine consecutive points to grab the lead.

“We couldn't put the ball in the basket in the last 4 ½ minutes or so,” Waverly coach Bob Kelly said. “I think we had maybe a 6-point lead with 4:32 to go and we had a timeout, and we had trouble scoring from there.”

“It's interesting, looking at the book,” NV coach Greg Schweiger said. “Our scores are about what we expected. The three girls that are usually in double digits are in double digits, but at halftime we didn't think there was any way we were gonna get there.

“We were just outta sorts in that first half. I don't know why. Obviously they're a very good defensive team and they sped us up and we didn't execute well. Every shot was just a chore of getting any points going, but I'm really proud of the way they responded being on the road.”

With the Cardinals trailing, 29-25, late in the third quarter, Cha Gardner scored on a follow-up to a teammate’s miss to make a two-point contest heading into the final frame. She added another basket just 23 seconds into the fourth to tie the game, but Robinson drained a 3-pointer a half-minute later to make it 32-29.

Leading by one, Robinson was fouled following a steal and attempted layup. She sank both free throws to make it 34-31 at 6:06.

After NV’s Jasmine Graham and Waverly’s Ashlen Croft traded buckets, the Cardinals’ Hayley Beebe knocked down a three-ball to tie the score at 36 with 4:35 on the clock.

Just under a minute later, at 3:38, Kalyna Graham put Newark Valley up to stay, 38-36.

Neither team could score until Gardner scored with 1:17 to go.

Waverly would miss a shot on its next possession and, as the game trickled into its final minute, the Wolverines were forced to foul.

They went after Beebe, the point guard, who went 5-for-8 at the stripe to secure the victory.

“We didn't have a lot of choice there and that wasn't the plan to foul her, that's for sure,” Kelly said, “but we couldn't wait to pick and choose who we were going to foul, and she knocked them down.”

A strong defensive push and some impressive 3-point shooting helped Waverly control play during the game’s early stages.

Treys by Addison and Kennedy Westbrook, and Peyton Shaw helped the Wolverines work a 13-9 first quarter lead.

Waverly shut down the NV offensive threat in the opening stanza with the exception of Gardner, who accounted for all her team’s scoring.

Gardner scored just two second-period points while Jasmine Graham had four and Beebe hit three foul shots.

The Cardinals did manage a 5-point burst to briefly take a 14-13 edge, but a Shaw basket gave the advantage back to the Wolverines.

Kennedy Westbrook scored the final seven points of the half for Waverly, including a three-ball to make it 22-18 at the break.

The Wolverines held NV to another nine points in the third quarter.

“Defensively, it kind of fueled the offense and when it's working we did a great job,” Kelly said. “I thought we did a fantastic job defensively. We played with a lot of heart, a lot of emotion. We executed our game plan and when you start knocking shots down, it kind of fuels your energy and you keep after it. We just had a couple bad breaks.”

Waverly wasn’t able to extend its lead as Jasmine Graham went on a personal 7-point run, racking up a trey, a short jumper and a pair of free throws in a span of 59 seconds to make it a 1-point game.

“Senior leadership stepping up, on the road and a big moment, and she delivered,” Schweiger said. “And then Hayley closing out the game with the three and a bunch of foul shots, and Cha owning every rebound there was. And that's our formula, so we're real proud of this win. It's a tough place to play and win, a tough team to go against, so, glad to get out of here with a ‘W’ and move on to the next.”

Kennedy Westbrook paced Waverly with 15 points, including two threes. Robinson added nine points with one three and going 4-for-4 at the line.

Shaw tacked on five points with one trey, Croft had four points, Addison Westbrook scored three and Ryleigh Judson had two.

Gardner finished with a game-high 17 points, Jasmine Graham recorded a dozen and Beebe had 11 with a trey while going 8-for-12 at the stripe.

Adriana Finta added a three-ball and Kalyna Graham tacked on two points.

NOTES: Both teams came in with 8-0 overall records. Newark Valley was 4-0 in division play and Waverly was 3-0. Each was state-ranked in Class B, NV at No. 7 and the Wolverines at No. 15.