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State title caps banner year for Clymer
Lictus the MVP as Pirates roll

The throng of fans from Clymer that witnessed Sunday's girls Class D basketball state championship game brought 28 banners, placards and posters that were taped to the wall behind the top of their bleacher.

Some signs were big, some were small, and all were maroon-and-gold, adorned with words like "Clymer Lady Pirates Rock," "You Make Us Proud," and "Pirate Pride."

What the Pirates did in front of those fans Sunday afternoon earned them the right to a special banner of their own, one that will hang in their own gym. It will read, "2009-2010 State Champions."

Clymer (20-4) used a tremendous start to roll to its first state title in girls basketball with a 49-35 victory over Harrisville (19-5) at Hudson Valley Community College.

"This is what we've always wanted, this is the way we've always wanted it to feel, and this is what we've always wanted to do," said 5-foot-10 senior Andrea Lictus, who earned MVP honors with a performance inside that included 17 points, eight rebounds and four steals. "To actually have this is so unreal. It's been like a dream."

This postseason has been marked by stunning Clymer comebacks in victories over higher-ranked teams in Elba (in the Far West Regionals) and Coleman Catholic (in Saturday's state semifinal), but Sunday the Pirates promptly took control.

Frenetic defense and patient offense led to a 14-5 lead after the first quarter, a 24-9 halftime lead and a 35-16 advantage after three.

Harrisville, the Section X (North Country) champion located north of Fort Drum, got three three-pointers by Kaitlyn Hart in the fourth quarter to fire up its Pirate-fan portion of the estimated crowd of 1,000 (the teams share the same nickname).

Harrisville closed the lead to 11 (44-33) with two minutes left but could manage only one more basket while Lictus scored Clymer's final five points.

It was a cooperative effort for Clymer. Senior Jenn Rhodes scored 11 points to earn all-tournament honors for the Pirates, who had all 11 players -- including seven seniors -- see action in the first three quarters.

Senior Kailyn Bentley had seven points (including 5 of 6 at the line), six rebounds, three assists and four steals. Senior Sydney Bennink had seven points and seven rebounds. Senior Mallory Deuink was the point person for Clymer's pressure defense with three steals.

The contributions from the bench were many, with freshman center Danielle Reinwald supporting Lictus in the paint with five rebounds, a block and a steal; senior Stephanie Gilkinson had two rebounds and two excellent assists to Lictus; junior Rebecca Skinner had three rebounds and a basket; senior Hannah Neckers (steal, assist) kept up the defensive pressure along with junior Ella Wiggers and junior Grace Vanearden.

Rhodes' mother, Rose, played on Clymer's last sectional title team in 1978. The Pirates and coach Dennis Hinsdale made the sectional final in all but two of the last nine years but didn't advance until their seventh try, beating seven-time state champ Pine Valley.

The fans were there for each win.

"Of the teams we've been playing, we have just as many fans, if not more, than any team here -- and we had to travel six hours," said Lictus. "In the hotel, there's a map of all the girls teams, and everyone is like, 'this is us,' 'this is us.' And then we're Clymer, way over there. We had a ton of people come out. It's amazing."

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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