POPLAR RIDGE — The Chiefs pushed the pace and stayed a step ahead of the Wolves.

Led by Catie Kopp, the Southern Cayuga girls basketball team took the lead late in the first quarter, pulled away early in the fourth and held on to beat Union Springs 50-41 at Southern Cayuga High School Tuesday.

"I thought we did a good job controlling the pace of the game," Chiefs coach Ed Heslop said. "On both ends of the floor, we were dictating the speed of the game and where things were happening. I think it forced them to speed up some things they weren't used to doing."

Kopp finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals. Brooke Walter added 11 points and six rebounds, and Amber Black had eight points and eight deflections.

Kopp nearly recorded her third consecutive triple-double, but for Heslop, the win was earned by the whole team.

"We're missing Lauren Sherman, and that put more onus on Catie today," Heslop said. "Lauren has really been stepping up and taking a lot of the load. Catie had a really good game tonight, but points are just one part of the game. We had girls stepping up. We had a girl — I don't even know if she scored — that did a great job on defense and was always in position. We had another one step up and got some big rebounds for us.

"Points are one thing, but it's a team sport. Even the girls who didn't get playing time worked hard and pushed the others in practice. That's how you get better."

Union Springs' Baylee Wiler registered a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Telona White added 14 points and seven rebounds.

"Baylee is the leader of our team. I think she got frustrated a little bit, but she just kept fighting through it," Wolves coach Dave Cornish said. "We've got a young team — they're young too — and we've got to do a better job of handling the ball. When Wiler is in there and she's starting to take it to the rim, I think that's going to make her even a better player."

Southern Cayuga scored the first five points, but the lead changed hands a couple times midway through the first quarter. The Chiefs went on a 7-1 run late in the first quarter and held a 15-12 lead after the first eight minutes.

"We turned the ball over 12 times in the first quarter, and we wanted to limit the whole game to 15 turnovers," Cornish said. "They had good pressure on the ball."

Southern Cayuga took a 26-21 lead into halftime and a 36-29 advantage heading into the final frame. The Chiefs went on an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter to increase their lead to 13.

The Wolves battled back to cut their deficit to five points, but couldn't get any closer.

"Four or five times we got to within five, but we couldn't get over the edge on that five," Cornish said. "I thought if we could get to three we might be able to get there, but it didn't happen."

Both teams return to action Friday. Southern Cayuga (3-1) travels to Groton, while Union Springs (2-2) welcomes Moravia.

"This is a big win for us," Heslop said. "They're a good team and they're our local rival. Out of the games, we love each other. In the game, you always want to beat your rival."

Sports writer Jeremy Houghtaling can be reached at 315-282-2256 or at jeremy.houghtaling@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenHough.

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