OSWEGO — The Lady Buccaneers nearly led wire-to-wire.
The Oswego varsity girls basketball team took an 8-2 lead in the first quarter and continued to have a stingy defense over the next three frames in a 37-22 victory over Cortland on Senior Night at Powers Gymnasium Thursday evening.
The Lady Bucs’ win avenges a 32-23 loss to the Lady Purple Tigers earlier in the season.
“The first time we played them it was a real defensive game, low scoring,” Oswego coach Joe Babcock said. “We adjusted and packed it in. We said we’d let them shoot from the outside. If they make some shots, we’ll go out on them. We adjusted well and the girls played hard. It was a good W tonight.”
Oswego honored the team’s four seniors — Caitlin Lilly, Hannah Holland, Megan Albright and Hailey Babcock — before the game.
Lilly paced the Buccaneers with 15 points, and added six rebounds and five steals.
“Caitie is one of the best girl basketball players to play at this school,” Joe Babcock said. “For me as a first-year varsity coach, to be able to coach her this year in her final year and her final game at Leighton (Elementary) is a thrill for me.”
Holland, who battled two ACL injuries in her varsity career, added 10 points, three boards and four steals. Holland had three of the Lady Bucs’ five 3-pointers.
“Hannah has come a long way. She had a rough year last year. She got injured and didn’t get to play much,” Joe Babcock said. “She made the all-tourney team in the Christmas tournament we played in, and just seeing her growth and how much she loves to play basketball (is great).”
Mary Culeton chipped in four points, three assists and a team-high 11 rebounds, while Andi Colon had six points and five steals.
Oswego only had seven players dressed for the game, but Hailey Babcock left in the first quarter with an injury. The senior returned late in the fourth quarter in a limited role.
Still, five different Bucs recorded a point.
“The JV had a good core they were working with and we have a good seven that we could roll with,” Joe Babcock said. “Going forward into sectionals, I’ll move some JV girls up and we’ll roll with 12.
“We had some trying times this season. We had a difficult schedule, but to finish up with some Ws and to see some smiles, I’m really happy.”
Cortland got on the board first with a bucket a little more than two minutes into the contest, but Oswego rattled off the next eight points to lead 8-2 after the first quarter.
The teams went basket-for-basket throughout much of the second and third quarters, but Oswego pulled away in the fourth. The Lady Bucs tallied the first five points in the final frame and then went on another six-point run before the final horn.
“This team got us early in the year, but we figured we could get the W if we came out and played hard,” Babcock said. “Being Senior Night, we tried to not put too much emphasis on winning the game, but more on going out, giving it all that we had, having some fun, enjoying the night and staying in the moment.”
Oswego now waits to see who its next opponent will be for the Section III Class A Tournament. The seeding meeting is set for next week.
“We’ve won our last two and qualified for sectionals. We’ve got some momentum,” Babcock said. “We’re going into the postseason with some confidence, which is good.”