Hammond Girls Turn Back OFA For Title
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
BY DAVE SHEA
Hammond turned back a tenacious comeback by host OFA to gain a 58-50 win in the championship game of the 20th annual Ben Cordwell Memorial Girls Basketball Tournament on the Bill Merna Court on Saturday afternoon.
A title game filled with intensity, energy, physicality and resilience which will help both teams in the 2020 portion of their schedule according to the head coaches.
"It was a great tournament for us. Finding the ability to close games out against two traditionally tough schools was a positive experience and step. But the leads we had, we need to enlarge not shrink. So, our next step in the growth process," said Hammond Coach Shawn Dack.
"I thought all the girls stepped up today. Especially as physical as it was."
The Red Devils took a 17-10 first quarter lead sparked by two 3-pointers and eight points by Kelsey Bennett and they stretched the lead to 47-34 after three quarters. OFA mounted a desperate rally in the fourth quarter and closed the margin to two points as frantic exchanges saw players diving for loose balls all over the court.
The Devils finished with a 16-11 advantage in the quarter aided by a strong showing from reserves replacing four starters who eventually fouled out.
The Blue Devils pulled with in two points at 50-48 on two free throws by Abby Raven and one by Gabrielle Morley but a steal by Bennett ignited a closing spurt by the Red Devils. Bennett fed Avery Kenyon for a layup. Kenyon followed with a jumper and Hailey Cunningham closed out the issue with two free throws.
"We just didn't play smart today. We can't have four starters foul out in a game like this," said OFA Coach Doug Loffler.
"But we made a nice rally and our bench did a nice job."
Kenyon scored seven of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter and was honored as the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Kylie Vaugh tallied 10 points and was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Abby Raven and Emily Farrand of OFA, Alexis Sullivan of Madrid-Waddington which downed Norwood-Norfolk 35-27 in the consolation game and Rylee Kellison of N-N.
Ben Cordwell Sportsmanship Awards went to Hailey Cunningham of Hammond, Celia Henry of OFA, Jaelynn Uppstrom of M-W and Tiffany Fisher of N-N.
Farrand and Riley Hough led OFA with 10 points and Gabrielle Morley finished with nine. Abby Raven and Hailey Reed each netted six. Celia Henry added four points and netted a key jumper and played a staunch defensive role in the OFA comeback. Emma LeBeau came off the bench and scored three points in the fourth quarter.
Bennett finished with eight points for Hammond and Hailey Cunningham's late free throws capped a seven-point effort. Sadey Spabary added a fourth quarter putback and Alyvia Crosby added two points.
M-W 35 - N-N 27: Kayla Dinneen and Lydia Thomas combined to score seven and four points in the post and Alexis Sullivan netted eight points as the Jackets overcame a season-high 16 points from Kylee Kellison of the Flyers.
"Lydia Thomas played well inside and Kayla Dinneen came off the bench and did some nice things in the post. I was happy with the way we bounced back from a tough game against Hammond last night," said M-W Coach Bryan Harmer.
"Norwood-Norfolk played well. They are very well coached by Jason Gallant. He does a lot to make his players better.
Jaelynn Uppstrom tallied five points for the winners with Lily LaMere scoring four and Laney Tiernan adding two. Brianna Straton scored five points for N-N with Tiffany Fisher and Stephanie Bock adding four and two.
HAMMOND WINS JV CHAMPIONSHIP
Hammond also won the Junior Varsity Championship controlling OFA with its defense and racing away after receiving a 12-point first quarter spark from Landree Kenyon who tallied 24 points. Hailey Manning, Hannah Belknap and Natalie Howie scored 19, 14 and nine points and Lily Towne added four.
Olivia Merrill led OFA with nine points and Olivia Liebstein, Mallory Morley and Alexis Brothers all chipped in two.
Madrid-Waddington downed Brushton-Moira in the consolation game led by a 21-point effort from Lane Ruddy and 12 points from Hailey Marcellus and Natalie Pearson. Caleigh Burke netted eight points and Kaylee Langdon led B-M with six points.
Honored with Ben Cordwell Memorial Sportsmanship Awards were: B-M's Kaylee Langdon, M-W's Lane Ruddy, Hammond's Zoey Cunningham and OFA's Kenzie Bucher.