MAHOPAC, N.Y. - As the Mahopac girls basketball squad prepared to take on Ketcham earlier this week, they were well aware of how they’ve struggled against them in previous years.
“We hadn’t beaten Ketcham in three of four years,” said Natalie Scanlon. But a second straight victory over 10-4 RCK left the Ketcham coach with some new-found respect for Mahopac.
“They outplayed us in every aspect,” said Ketcham coach Pat Mealy.
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On both ends, Mia Klammer did a large share of the work, and it was only fitting that she opened the game with a three.
“She’s got some motor,” said Mealy.
Mahopac put Ketcham through the grind as Caitlyn O’Boyle, Shannon Becker piled on with Scanlon all evening.
“Size really helped us inside, especially with the put backs,” said Scanlon.
The advantage got the Mahopac big inside for an early lay up and foul shots, and not letting up, O’Boyle then made the most of a Klammer miss for an 11-7 lead.
The ongoing slight did not go unnoticed by Ketcham.
“They were just bigger than us, and it was hard to keep up,” said Ketcham guard Mya Smith.
The quarter closed with Mahopac going up top again. This time it was Becker.
Corralling an offensive rebound, Becker went cross court from the corner, and Klammer showed she could gut it out too. The guard drove hard along the baseline, and as she went down, so did two more for a 13-7 lead.
A little two-step was next for the game’s high scorer. At the top of the key, Klammer gave the short shrift to her dribble and got through the defense for two of her 15 points.
“I wanted to do it for the seniors,” said Klammer. “This is a great team.”
Looking to send her elders off, she did more than steal their hearts. Stepping in on the Ketcham inbound, Klammer found O’Boyle for a short jumper, and the thievery - by design - was far from over.
“She’s so quick and fast that we tell to hawk the ball,” said coach Chuck Scozzafava.
On the counter, Ketcham guard Katie Wall had some moves herself and went coast to coast to cut the score to 17-9. But Scozzafava was still very pleased with how his defense contained the elusive guard.
Either way, a Scanlon follow and Klammer inbounds steal continued the Mahopac double down on size and speed for a 24-13 first half lead. The end of intermission didn’t have Mahopac letting up, and O’Boyle’s deuce at 4:59 gave Mahopac it’s largest lead at 34-13.
Ketcham wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, though. Abby Mealy’s three at the shot clock buzzer got a rise on the visitor’s side, and before they could sit, Wall went back door on a beautiful feed from Meg Nardelli.
Nardelli hit another three at 2:36 to get within 34-23, and Mahopac was clearly off guard. So Klammer made herself heard again. On consecutive trips up court, she stole the ball and added five more on the fast break.
The significance of the moment was lost on Scanlon.
“It completely shifted the game back,” she said.
The lead extended to 44-25 on yet another steal and fast break layup by Klammer. But Ketcham again got in reach after Wall went coast to coast, and Mealy hit a three with 6:16 remaining in the game.
Coming out of the timeout and trailing by 13, Ketcham went full throttle on defense. Unfortunately, the press could not measure up to O’Boyle’s height. Taking the Becker inbounds on high both times, she got the ball to Melanie DeMeo for a fast break layup and a backcourt foul led to an easy layup after the whistle.
The 48-31 lead meant the rest was running out the clock, but Scozzafava praised his girls for the well rounded effort. On the boards, defense and offense, concluded Scozzafava, “We played a great team game.”