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Clymer reaches title game Bentley sparks 4th quarter rally

If the streets in Clymer seemed a bit quieter this weekend that's because many of the town's 1,500 residents traveled over six hours across the state to make a lot of noise in the McDonough Fieldhouse on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College.

And the Clymer girls' basketball team made the trip worth it for its fans from the Chautauqua town.

Making their first appearance in the New York State Championship Tournament, the Pirates of Section VI thrilled the crowd with a stunning 31-26 victory over John A. Coleman Catholic High School of Section IX in a Class D semifinal.

Coleman was the defending champion and No. 1 team in the state, but it's Clymer -- the second-smallest school in Section VI with an enrollment of 96 students -- that moved on to the final to face Harrisville of Section X (Plattsburgh area) at noon today at Hudson Valley CC.

"This is a huge thing for our entire community," said Clymer principal Edward Bailey, who declared Friday a snow day so students and their families could make the trip. "We may be a very small school and small community but we are very supportive."

It wasn't an easy victory for Clymer -- which had to overcome 16 turnovers, 50 percent free-throw shooting (5 for 10) and anemic 2-for-9 field-goal shooting in the first half. The Pirates trailed, 13-9, at halftime.

"The feelings I've had for the last two weeks are a coach's dream," said elated Clymer coach Dennis Hinsdale, who is in his ninth season. "I've dreamed about making it here and winning. Now I'm just happy to be living the dream."

The Pirates trailed nearly the entire first three quarters and were down, 20-13, when Kailyn Bentley drained a deep three-pointer as the buzzer sounded at the end of the third period to cut the deficit to four.

"When we got down by eight [points] I knew it was all or nothing," said Bentley, a 5-foot-5, senior guard. "It was time to step it up because we weren't going home."

Fueled by Bentley's shot, Clymer outscored Coleman, 15-6, in the final eight minutes.

The Pirates were 11 for 14 from the line in the fourth and the defense forced three shot-clock violations.

"These girls were determined," Hinsdale said. "We are a defensive-minded team, whether it is getting a steal, making a defensive stand or grabbing a defensive rebound."

With 1:25 remaining and the score knotted at 26, Andrea Lictus dropped in a putback. Then with 58.4 left she made two free throws.

Coleman was then forced to foul and Bentley, Rhodes and Bennink each hit a free throw to finish the scoring.

Five players scored for Clymer with Jenn Rhodes dropping in 10.

Harrisville advanced to the final with a 33-29 victory over Section IV champion Davenport.

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