By JIM KEVLIN : LIVERPOOL
|Jim Kevlin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA|
First-year coach Matt Miller gives his stars an atta-girl courtside in Liverpool.
The Lady Yellow Jackets are used to winning, and winning, and winning.
So there were tears after the 62-58 loss to Cazenovia at the Class B state girls basketball quarterfinals Saturday, March 12, at Liverpool High School.
But the reality is the Ladies went 19-2 this season, leading to a 60-40 Section 4 Class B championship Friday, March 4, against Seton Catholic.
While bowing here in Liverpool, it was quite a game, with the girls coming back from a 17-point deficit to tie Caz in regulation time, only to slip two baskets behind in overtime.
With first-year coach Matt Miller, the girls nonetheless won OHS’ fourth Section 4 Class B championship in a row.
In two of the past four years, now-retired Coach Bob Zeh coached the girls to two state finals at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, only to fall just short of the prize.
Yes, all the fans are used to seeing the Lady Jackets win.
This didn’t start yesterday. In fact, it goes back almost a generation now, to Karen Haag, who OHS Athletic Director Joe Hughes credits with starting to build a winning tradition in the early 1990s.
Haag soon went on to an illustrious coaching career at the College of St. Rose, but Tom Moriarty took Haag’s effort to the next level, winning back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999.
Fans fondly remember Krissy Zeh, Tiffany Hurley (now Carr), Stacy Knapp and Kristin Constanty, who took the team to 57 victories in a row over two-plus seasons.
After Matt Culpepper’s two seasons, Coach Zeh took over, and the girls were soon back on their way to the top.
How does this type of dynasty happen?
“If everybody had a great answer to that,” said Hughes, “we’d all do it.”
He continued, “You have to have good players. You have to have quality coaching. You have to have a supportive community and school district. And if you have those elements in place, you are going to have a good chance at success.”
Further, success breeds success: Younger girls see what the older girls accomplish and are inspired.
“That’s certainly part of it,” said Hughes, the father of daughters. “They see the fun that comes from that. And they want to be part of it.”
Seniors Sienna Wisse – she’s expected to play at Ithaca – Erin Wolstenholme and Jenn Dilello, veterans of the two state-final matches, are graduating this year, but the tradition continues.
Natalie Meyerling, the 6-foot-2 sophomore who was brought up from JV early in the season, will be back next year and just a junior.
Hughes pointed out the JV team only lost two games this year.
The new girls to watch: Minnie Webster and Maria DiMartin, as well as Meyerling.
And the veterans? Dani Nicosia, Kelsey Baker and Hayley Dower, Hughes said.
The tradition lives.
check out more pictures in our facebook album -- Oneonta High School Girl's Basketball Finals 2011