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Pearl River Loses First of Season against Oneonta

Oneonta won, 58-46, in a battle of girls basketball defending section champions Saturday at Pearl River.

Pearl River and Oneonta scheduled Saturday's meeting of the two teams with the same idea in mind -- test themselves against strong competition early.

Both teams entered the game undefeated and both won section championships last season, Pearl River in Section 1 Class A and Oneonta in Section 4 Class B.

Both teams got the challenge they wanted, but it was Oneonta that also earned the victory, 58-46.

"Great competition. They defended pretty well," Pearl River Head Coach Lorraine Moylan said. "They made us think a little bit. They were running as quickly as we were. They had some nice weapons. If we made some layups, it might have been helpful to us."

Pearl River (3-1) struggled with turnovers and missed layups all through the contest.

"I think fundamentally, we have to take care of the ball better," Moylan said. "We have to do a better job finding openings for each other. And we have to finish layups. We didn't finish. You can't keep yourselves in the game if you do everything right and you don't make a layup."

Moylan said that Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering, Oneonta's 6-foot-2 center, played a role in that by altering some shots. She also scored 16 points. Oneonta took advantage of its edge in size, with forward Kelsey Baker adding 15 points.

"I think our post players played the best game we've seen them play this year," Oneonta Head Coach Matt Miller said. "When you're getting shots three feet from the basket instead of settling for shots 19 feet away, that's always a good thing. Our post players really showed up and helped us compete with a good team."

Point guard Mariah Ruff led the way with 19 points for Oneonta, which improved its record to 6-0. Both teams played an up-tempo game, with Oneonta able to disrupt Pearl River by jumping into passing lanes from its 2-3 zone.

"We really are similar teams in the way we like to play," Miller said. "They like to press a lot. They don't slow it down. It was great to see that kind of basketball. I think, most of the time, the teams that have the winning recipe do those things. It was great for us to see this level of competition.

"We wanted to step outside of our comfort zone. Right now, our league is a little bit down and we hadn't had any good games."

Pearl River had also won by comfortable margins in its three previous games, though it is a young team with players still adjusting to new roles. Senior guard Marissa Scognamiglio tried to rally the Pirates in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of her team-high 14 points in the final period. Junior guard Sam Alicandri added 13.

"We've got different people in different roles and they need to learn," Moylan said.

Pearl River's next game is 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18 at Clarkstown South.  

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