Matt Miller had nothing to worry about Wednesday.
Although a handful of Miller’s players have practiced on a limited basis because of a deep run in girls soccer, the host Yellowjackets opened the girls basketball season with a 45-32 non-conference victory over Class A Troy.
“It was a great problem to have,” third-year OHS coach Miller said of soccer players Mariah Ruff, Dani Nicosia, Minnie Webster and Meg Burns missing time during the first two weeks of basketball practice. The quartet helped the Jackets to a runner-up finish in the Class B state tournament Sunday. “I was definitely worried there’d be some court rust.”
That definitely wasn’t the case in regard to junior guard Ruff, who finished with game-highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds Wednesday. In addition to her varsity-best rebounding performance, Ruff had five steals and hit three three-point field goals.
“She’s not a real big kid, but she really has been dedicated to the weight room for the past year-and-a-half,” Miller said of the 5-foot-8 Ruff, who grabbed 13 defensive rebounds. “She’s gotten a lot stronger. She was just ripping the ball away from people. If there’s a 50-50 ball where she’s got her hands on it and somebody else does, too, she’s going to end up with it 90 percent of the time.”
Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering, a 6-foot-2 senior center, contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks for the Yellowjackets, who are coming off a 17-5 season that included their fifth straight Section Four championship and ended with a 47-39 state-quarterfinal loss to South Jefferson.
“She was knocking on the door of a triple-double,” Miller said of Vanderlaan-Meyering. “She hit the weights a little bit, too, and she blocks a ton of shots, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she does get a triple-double at some point this season.”
Kiana Patterson’s 10 points paced Troy, which trailed, 25-19, at halftime. Patterson, who primarily drew Ruff as a defender, is one of four returning starters for a Troy team that fell, 57-45, to OHS in the Anthony C. Drago Tournament last season en route to a 15-4 finish.
“We played awesome defense,” said Miller, whose team won despite committing 25 turnovers. “We really did a great job defending, so this was a good win for us. Troy is a very talented team.”
Senior guard Hayley Dower had five points and fellow
returning starters Nicosia and Kelsey Baker — also seniors — scored four apiece for the Jackets, who will not have the services of Brittney Herrick this season.
“What a heartbreaker for us,” Miller said of missing Herrick, a key junior-varsity call-up last winter who joined Dower and Baker in leading Oneonta’s volleyball team to the Southern Tier Athletic Conference and Section Four Class B finals this past season.
“She’s a volleyball kid first — always has been — and she made a club team that plays out of Albany,” Miller continued. “She’ll be running indoor track because there are no meets during the week, which is when her volleyball team plays. It stinks for us because she obviously would have been huge for us. You can’t teach 6-feet tall and athletic, so that’s a big loss for us.”
OHS is off until Dec. 5, when it opens STAC play at Windsor. The Jackets’ schedule also includes non-conference road games against Class A opponents Pearl River (Dec. 22), Vestal (Dec. 28 at Maine-Endwell) and Troy (Feb. 2).
Oneonta 45, Troy 32
TROY (0-1): Meg Driscoll 0 0-0 0, Mary Pattison 4 1-5 9, Kiana Patterson 3 1-2 10, Brayleigh Hanlon 1 0-0 2, Sydney Bertrand 0 0-0 0, Courtney Avery 1 1-2 3, Micah Dukes 2 0-0 4, Danielle Evans 0 0-0 0, Victoria Hallett 1 0-0 2, Cheyenne Williams 0 2-4 2. TOTALS: 12 5-13 32.
ONEONTA (1-0): Ceili Getman 0 0-0 0, Hayley Dower 2 0-0 5, Dani Nicosia 2 0-0 4, Kelsey Baker 2 0-2 4, Rachel Wessells 0 0-0 0, Mariah Ruff 6 7-10 22, Sierra Sangetti-Daniels 0 0-0 0, Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering 4 2-3 10, Maria DiMartin 0 0-0 0, Erin Mushtare 0 0-0 0, Diandra Sangetti-Daniels 0 0-0 0, Meg Burns 0 0-0 0, Michelle Lee-St. Marthe 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 16 9-15 45.
Troy 9 10 7 6 — 32
Oneonta 13 12 12 8 — 45
Three-point field goals: T 3 (Patterson 3); O 4 (Dower, Ruff 3).
JV score: Oneonta won.