Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Waterloo Starts Fast & Runs to B2 Title Over Dansville

March 13, 2021

Waterloo 55, Dansville 31

75 miles and an area code. That's how long the drive was from Elba, the western end of the 585 where I started the day, to the western edge of the 315 in Waterloo for game two. This result was much more in question before tip, as Waterloo & visiting Dansville had spent the last month running through all challengers. However, top seeded Waterloo left no doubt as to who ruled the roost in Section V Class B2, as they jumped to a big lead early and never let Dansville make it close on the way to a sectional final victory.

Giavanna White-Principio made it happen from the jump & led Waterloo with 20 points in their W.

Waterloo didn't wait to make their presence felt. It started with a Giavanna White-Principio (Waterloo 2022) bucket around the rim, and then the 6'1" center stretched to the perimeter and hit a couple jumpers, one from beyond the arc. She eventually scored their first nine points in less than three minutes of action, and a spirited defensive effort caused problems for Dansville guards in the opening minutes. Macy Carr (Waterloo 2022) canned a triple after the first nine from White-Principio, and a Carr free throw at the 2:36 mark in the 1st quarter ran their lead to 15-2 with a 13-0 run. Dansville got two free throws & a bucket from Hannah LaPlant (Dansville 2021) to stop the bleeding, but the margin was still double digits after the 1st as Waterloo led 19-8. The hosts then slowly opened up their lead in the waning moments of the half. They had spurts of 6-0 and 7-0 in the 2nd quarter, with Morgan Caraballo (Waterloo 2023) baskets capping both runs. The latter, a burst of seven points in under a minute, had Caraballo's three give them a 32-14 lead. The margin was 16 at the break after Arayana Young (Dansville 2021) scored before intermission.

The hosts weren't able to break it open more for a while, but they kept Dansville at a comfortable distance through the 3rd quarter. They got as close as 13 after a LaPlant bucket and Young free throw cut it to 36-23 at the 3:38 mark in the frame, but LaPlant would pick up her 4th foul shortly thereafter and Dansville would be held scoreless for the rest of the quarter. Five points to end the 3rd, including a pair of McKenzie Barber (Waterloo 2021) buckets, put them back up 18 at 41-23 heading to the 4th, where the run they were aiming for would happen. White-Principio started it with a bucket, then after a Dansville answer on the ensuing possession, Waterloo would reel off seven straight points on a Caraballo bucket, two Barber free throws, and another White-Principio three, the latter giving them their largest lead at 50-25 with 4:43 left. They were able to coast to the winner's circle on the way to their first sectional title in seven years.

Giavanna White-Principio had a fantastic game for Waterloo and led all scorers with 20 points. There was balance behind her, as Morgan Caraballo, Macy Carr, and McKenzie Barber all had 8 points apiece. Dansville was paced by longtime senior standouts Hannah LaPlant and Arayana Young, who had 10 & 7 points, respectively.

Arayana Young had 7 pts/12 rebs in the final game of a great career at Dansville.


- I think we can put Waterloo in "better than I expected" territory. I walked away from the game - well, ran away really, had another one to go to - impressed with how good they looked at both ends. Giavanna obviously looked good; I'll get to that below. Waterloo's guards - namely Morgan Caraballo, Macy Carr, and Natalie DiSanto - were consistently able to get by the first line of Dansville defenders & get paint touches, then they generally made the right read from there. Sometimes, it was taking it all the way to the rack. Others, Ray Young would help off Giavanna, rotation would be late, and they'd dump to G for a layup. They have good size with Giavanna at 6'1", added strength down low with Barber, and Caraballo, Carr, and Jazz Lewis are all good athletes in the backcourt. Defensively, the athleticism & toughness paid dividends. They extended to a full-court 1-3-1 with Jazz Lewis being physical & actively denying Young the ball in the middle. Keeping it out of the middle was key, and the DiSanto/Carr/Caraballo combo went to work pressuring guards, forcing bad passes, and getting steals. There was never a point in the game where it didn't work for them. I have seen several of them on the AAU circuit with various programs, but this was the first time watching Waterloo play a high school team. They're legit, and they'll be legit going forward - out of everyone I just mentioned, Barber is the only one graduating.

- We're living in a world where Giavanna White-Principio is stepping out & hitting threes now, and I'm here for it. Great showing for the 6'1" Waterloo 2022 center, who had 20 points in about as many minutes and got it in a variety of ways. She's always had good hands & can finish well facing the rim, main tools to being a good catch & finish big, and some of it came from that. However, she hit three perimeter jumpers - two from beyond the arc & another from 18' - and also added putbacks on offensive rebounds. Development is coming along... I'll be interested to see how she continues to develop not just through AAU & next year, but also through her college years, as like many players with good size, she may not hit her ceiling until her early 20s.

Morgan Caraballo played a valuable role for Waterloo & finished with 8 points in their victory.

- Dansville ran into a Waterloo buzzsaw, but that doesn't take away from the impact their 2021 class had & the success they experienced. After Arayana Young moved back to Dansville from Schenectady, where she played as a freshman, they went 22-1 with a split class title in 2018-19. The following year, they went 22-2, won the overall B championship, and were one of the select group of teams whose season was cut short by the onset of the pandemic. They weren't alone, as this was all done with longtime standout Grace Rittenhouse in the fold too (who's now making an early impact at Alfred), but the 2021 class, particularly Young & Hannah LaPlant, played a major role in driving the success. They'll go on to play collegiately, Arayana likely at the Division I level, but taking a quick look back at the last three years... 56-4 with two split-class B championships and an overall B title isn't too bad.

- A thank you goes out to Waterloo athletic administration and Section V for allowing media (and myself) to attend Saturday's game and giving me approval to do so!

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