Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Young Guns Prove to Be the Cream of the Crop - EST Summer League Team Recap

Youth is often talked about as a disadvantage in the athletic world – too young, not physically ready, not mature or experienced enough. However, that same youth can also become an advantage. The aptly named Young Guns squad, with 60% of its roster going into their sophomore years of high school, exemplified how youth can go a long way. The youngest team in the league also looked like the hungriest team in the league seemingly from its outset, and on playoff night, they certainly looked like they had the most in the tank, showing resiliency & then dominance en route to a pair of victories to earn the 2019 EST summer league championship.

It was apparent from the league’s opening night that this group had some extra juice, keeping both of their opponents in the thirties – a tough feat in a league with several scholarship level players on each team – on their way to two double digit wins. Offensively, the balance they showed in those two games – five players scoring six or more points apiece in each win – became a trademark for the team in red going forward.
Kaia Henderson had a fantastic 2019 campaign, helping push the Young Guns to an EST championship.
Night two was where they showed the grit of a winning team and ability to win in different ways. In what was a terrible start offensively vs. Outwork – only having 4 points on the board with just over 2:00 remaining in the 1st half – they were able to not only dig through the rough patch but come out with a win. The following game was anything but that, as it was a shootout from the tip and they simply needed to outscore a red hot Lockdown team. They did just that, going 13/23 from beyond the arc in a 72-60 win.
The Young Guns continued to flourish and the wins continued to pile up, but they finally hit a road block in the back end of the summer. After running to a 7-1 record, the last night of the regular season was a struggle, as they dropped both games in what could be called disappointing fashion going into playoff night. The malaise seemingly hung around for the 1st half of their semifinal game, with a very undermanned No Mercy leading at halftime of their semifinal game. Young Guns picked it up after intermission though, dominating the 3rd quarter to gain separation and run to the finals. Facing Next Big Thing, a team with 6 on the roster & 5 in attendance that won the title last year, they never gave their opponents a chance. An early edge was maintained through the 1st half, and the lead expanded in the 3rd quarter, ballooning to as much as 18 to remove all doubt of who was coming home with the win. The eventual 57-45 victory for Young Guns was EST’s first ever double digit championship game.
Abby Lombardoni helped Young Guns become the league's top team as one of the lone rising seniors.
The balance of Young Guns was an integral part of their success, but it’s also safe to say that Kaia Henderson played a major role. The rising sophomore from New Hartford already has offers on the table from high major D1 programs, and she consistently showed why that’s the case in her 2nd year on the Union College court in EST. When games got tight or when the team was struggling to get anything going, it was often Kaia that took it over and made things happen. That was evident with her dominant stretch in the July 1 game against Outwork, scoring 7 straight points in a 3 possession stretch to give her team much needed momentum. She had 10 in the quarter, one that they won 22-5. The championship game was another one of those moments – her 12 point, 9 rebound, 3 assist, 3 steal performance sounds strong to begin with in an EST game, but it doesn’t tell the half of how she was able to control pace & tempo, consistently making good decisions and making it impossible for a loaded NBT squad to chip into the deficit. She was 10th in the league in points per game (9.9), 3rd in assists (3.2), & 5th in steals (1.9), and her 4.7 rebounds per game ranked highly among guards in the league. The most telling stat, however, may come from the win/loss column. Young Guns went 9-1 with Kaia in the lineup and 0-2 without her. A big time player that made things happen from start to finish.
You also can’t talk about the success of Young Guns without bringing up their post play. A pair of small school standouts – and like Kaia, both rising sophomores – were arguably the most effective forward tandem in the league this summer. Makenzie Smith (Broadalbin-Perth 2022) and Alexis Wright (Berne-Knox-Westerlo 2022) were major parts of the team’s foundation. Their statistical numbers were impressive – Makenzie averaged 7.9 PPG & 7.5 RPG (7th in EST), Alexis averaged 9.8 PPG (11th in EST) & 6.3 RPG – but like Kaia, the stats don’t tell the half of it. Their toughness and blue-collar work ethic were staples, as they won the battle in the trenches more often than not. Their impact wasn't any more evident than in the championship game, where going up against a pair of accomplished forwards including a Division I commit, the two combined for 35 points & 17 rebounds in a 57-45 win (Alexis had 19 & 10; Makenzie had 16 & 7). In a league that doesn’t offer anything material for success (no trophies, no medals, no free ice cream), the ‘compete level’ of players is on full display. Some have it more than others. How hard Lexi & Makenzie competed at all times, even when tired, was evident – and at times, it made all the difference.
Alexis Wright did big things consistently for Young Guns, finishing 3rd in the league in total points & providing added toughness for the champs.
If that wasn’t enough, add Payton Graber to the mix. The rising sophomore standout at Schalmont wasn’t there as much as the aforementioned names – 6 games compared to 12 from Smith/Wright & 10 from Henderson – but her presence was felt when she was on the court. Payton led them in points per game at 10.17 (6th in EST), added 3.7 RPG, and she shot over 40% from the field & just under 40% from deep. Their July 31 loss against a Power Up team that was firing on all cylinders (nearly 50% from the field, over 50% from 3) could’ve been much worse if not for Graber’s 20 point outing (8/15 FG, 4/6 3P). She packed a powerful punch in the backcourt, and already having plenty of experience at this young age of having opposing defenses gear up for her, she was able to make it look easy at times with 1v1 situations.
But what pushed Young Guns over the top was that everyone made an impact. There were no weak links & everyone carried their weight. Maddie Meyer & Haley Burchhardt – like the ones above, both rising sophomores – provided even more heart and competitive edge to this group, and they both hit shots when needed. Meyer averaged 5.4 PPG, 2.2 APG (10th in EST), & 2.1 SPG (2nd in EST), and she made her share of big plays on both sides of the ball in close games. Burchhardt added 4.6 PPG & 3.2 RPG, and on top of the toughness that she brought, a much-improved perimeter stroke went a long way with her ability to make defenses pay for giving her room. Sydney Lusher (Oneida 2021) provided versatility with her ability to play on or off the ball at 5’10”, and she made several key plays throughout playoff day, with the team playing at another level with her on the court. Kiley Snow (Whitesboro 2020), Alana Batson (Whitesboro 2021), and Abby Lombardoni (Fonda-Fultonville 2020) provided great wing depth as reliable offensive weapons. Snow, who only was able to play in four games due to injuries, led the league in 3-point percentage, hitting 8 of her 16 attempts over those games. Batson had a couple standout stretches in games with her ability to not only shoot it, but put the ball on the floor & create going to the rim, and she averaged 5.5 PPG. Lombardoni, known at this point locally perhaps most as the one that went on a monstrous tear leading Fonda-Fultonville to the Section 2 Class B finals, showed she could do much more than score the ball, becoming one of the team’s most effective creators with her court vision & passing ability going off the dribble. She also had her moments scoring though – ask Lockdown from their July 1 game, where she reeled off 4 treys in the first 7 minutes.
Makenzie Smith made a statement in her 1st year in EST, averaging 7.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and becoming a dominant post presence on a winning team.
As a team, there wasn’t much of anything that you could say was a weakness. They led the league in team scoring at 52 PPG, but they were also in the top 3 in points allowed per game (45.6). Their ability to shoot it as a team was unmatched, with 8 of their 10 players knocking down 7 or more threes on the year. They won the battle of the boards in 8 of their 12 games. They made ballhandlers uncomfortable and forced turnovers, leading the league in steals by a comfortable margin. Combine all of that, and you get a team that finds ways to win regardless of the style of game.
The youngest team in the league handled business. They showed that they could win pretty, and they showed that they could win ugly. I don’t do all-league teams anymore because I’d rather not be crucified by angry family members – been down that road – but there would certainly be a few from this roster if that was still a thing. Only two graduate next year from this roster – Kiley Snow wraps up a two-year stint in the summer league, and Abby Lombardoni was one of only two 1st year ESTers in the 2020 class. The future is bright for all of this talented group. If they showed anything, it’s that playing hard matters, compete level matters, the little things matter. Congrats to the 2019 edition of the Young Guns, who go down as one of the EST summer league’s more dominant teams to date.
Sydney Lusher, who's been one of the 'young guns' on teams for years now, took a different role as one of this team's elder statesmen. She made several key plays to help Young Guns come out with a championship.

YOUNG GUNS ROSTER
Abby Lombardoni (Fonda-Fultonville 2020) - 3.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 7 threes
Kiley Snow (Whitesboro 2020) - 6.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 50% 3P (8/16)
Alana Batson (Whitesboro 2021) - 5.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 7 threes
Sydney Lusher (Oneida 2021) - 3.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 44.4% FG
Haley Burchhardt (Schalmont 2022) - 4.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 9 threes
Payton Graber (Schalmont 2022) - 10.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2 SPG, 41% FG (25/61), 38.1% 3P (8/21)
Kaia Henderson (New Hartford 2022) - 9.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.9 SPG, 10 threes
Maddie Meyer (Duanesburg 2022) - 5.4 PPG, 2 RPG, 2.2 APG, 2.1 SPG, 12 threes
Makenzie Smith (Broadalbin-Perth 2022) - 7.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG
Alexis Wright (Berne-Knox-Westerlo 2022) - 9.8 PPG (117 pts), 6.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 7 threes

Friday, August 23, 2019

5TH ANNUAL EST UPSTATE FALL SHOWCASE: Full Info W/ Registration Links




5th Annual EST Upstate Fall Showcase

Date: Sunday, September 29, 2019
Site: Schenectady High School (Pat Riley Sports Center)

Session 1 Time: 10:00 AM-1:00 PM
Session 2 Time: 1:00-4:00 PM

Open to: Girls in Classes of 2020-2023
Cost: $75 ($78 if using PayPal)


One of the original EST events is back for its 5th year!

The Upstate Fall Showcase has made massive growth since its humble beginnings in 2015. With over 100 participants in each of the last two years along with dozens of college coaches at each, it's back for another go-around. It'll take place on Sunday, September 29 at the Pat Riley Sports Center at Schenectady High School.

Amanda Mieczkowski - an Assumption (Division 2) commit from western Massachusetts - has been a staple at EST events over the last two years, including the Upstate Fall Showcase

Athletes will hit the court for a 3 hour period. A heavy dose is dedicated to competitive, structured 3v3 & 5v5 play to allow ample time to compete in front of college coaches & evaluators in attendance. Beyond that, all participating athletes will go through a skill work session that has traditionally been coordinated by current or former college coaches. The combination of different aspects allows for the opportunity to get challenged, get better, and allow coaches to evaluate players in different settings. The event is expected to have a diverse base of talent - EST events have drawn some of the top talent from Albany to Buffalo, Plattsburgh to Westchester, & everywhere in between, along with additional participants from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, & Vermont. The Upstate Fall Showcase has proven to be a can't miss event in the fall for players, college coaches, & evaluators alike! Anticipate a strong showing from a wide variance of coaches from D2, D3, & JuCo programs, along with Northeast based scouting services & basketball media outlets. The Schenectady HS baselines have been lined with coaches for every event in the last three years!

In order to register, all you need to do is submit the registration form online & submit payment. The registration form takes 5 minutes - detailed contact info, basic academic & athletic info - and is submitted quickly & securely online. Payment can be submitted through PayPal for a quick, convenient method ($78 instead of $75 if using PayPal due to their service fee). If you'd prefer using another payment option (cash/check/Venmo), not a problem - just inform me upon registration.

Empire State Takeover events have emerged as not only a leading option for high level competition & college exposure in upstate NY, but one of the top options in the entire Northeast. The 5th Annual EST Upstate Fall Showcase is shaping up to be bigger & better and expand on that growth. I anticipate this event selling out and being a valuable way to showcase your abilities in front of eyes that matter! I hope to see you at Schenectady HS on September 29!

Kaci Donovan, pictured at last year's EST Upstate Fall Showcase, put the gym on notice in 2018. The rising senior from Owego is committed to Penn State.


REGISTERED PLAYER LIST (2020-2023 Classes)


Toni Adipietro (5’7”, 2020)

Lauren Augustine (5’4”, 2020)

Xy’el Bradford (5’5”, 2020)

Jillian Casey (5’10”, 2020)

Brynne Gilmore (5’7”, 2020)

Freey Pleasants (5’8”, 2020)

Piper Seamon (5’8”, 2020)

Xaneya Thomas (5’8”, 2020)

Allison Shaw (5’6”, 2020)

Madison Ansari (5’10”, 2021)

Alana Batson (5’8”, 2021)

Brianna Beebe (5’10”, 2021)

Alyssa Brammer (5’3”, 2021)

Molly Brophy (5’11”, 2021)

Allessia Carlo (5’4”, 2021)

Solé Carrington (5’6”, 2021)

Hailey Cascioli (5’8”, 2021)

Tessa Cole (5’6”, 2021)

Payton Couture (5’10”, 2021)

Molly Coyne (6’0”, 2021)

Laycee Drake (5’6”, 2021)

Anna Eng (5’5”, 2021)

Jenna Faulkner (5’10”, 2021)

Lauren Filien (6’0”, 2021)

Zyohana Glen (5’11”, 2021)

KJ Gordon (5’3”, 2021)

Jenna Granger (5’9”, 2021)

Julia Harvey (5’8”, 2021)

Leana Heitmann (6’0”, 2021)

Jordan Hess (5’4”, 2021)

Melanie Hoyt (6’2”, 2021)

Zavia Jaime (5’7”, 2021)

Anna Jankovic (5’9”, 2021)

Madilann Johnson (5’2”, 2021)

Maddisyn Mahoney (6’2”, 2021)

Julia Mann (5’9”, 2021)

Sarah Mattfeld (5’10”, 2021)

Antonia May (5’11”, 2021)

Lauren McCrae (5’4”, 2021)

Jordyn Meunier (5’10”, 2021)

Katie Moravec (5’6”, 2021)

Kelly Moravec (5’5”, 2021)

Victoria Morgan (5’8”, 2021)

Sophia Murray (5’4”, 2021)

Kylee Peck (5’6”, 2021)

Lauren Petrie (5’8”, 2021)

Lilly Phillips (5’11”, 2021)

Sophie Phillips (5’11”, 2021)

Abby Racine (5’10”, 2021)

Lexie Roe (5’7”, 2021)

Mackenzie Searles (5’9”, 2021)

Karlyssa Shifflett (5’8”, 2021)

Jackie Stanavich (5’9”, 2021)

Alexis Tedford (5’5”, 2021)

Reese Vaughan (5’9”, 2021)

Amaya Williams (5’3”, 2021)

Vasilia Anastos (5’4”, 2022)

Alexandra Bednarczyk (6’0”, 2022)

Haley Burchhardt (5’5”, 2022)

Kayleigh Bryant (5’9”, 2022)

Kaelah Carter (5’7”, 2022)

Maddie Cozzens (6’0”, 2022)

Catherine Dadey (5’9”, 2022)

Emily Delisle (5’5”, 2022)

Margaret Dougher (5’6”, 2022)

Stasia Epler (5’7”, 2022)

Morgan Giancaterino (5’8”, 2022)

Abby Hansen (5’8”, 2022)

Samantha Hansen (5’10”, 2022)

MacKenzie Hess (5’3”, 2022)

Sydney Huhtala (5’9”, 2022)

Ciara Hundley (5’11”, 2022)

Teagan Kamm (6’1”, 2022)

Madison Kelly (5’8”, 2022)

Katie Marlow (5’11”, 2022)

Savannah Moore (5’8”, 2022)

Cristina Negron (5’8”, 2022)

Kate Peek (5’9”, 2022)

Gretchen Perine (5’3”, 2022)

Lexi Pierce (5’9”, 2022)

Tanner Poissant (5’6”, 2022)

Emily Satterday (5’9”, 2022)

Carly Scott (5’2”, 2022)

Kyla Smith (5’4”, 2022)

Morgan Tompkins (5’10”, 2022)

Macie Trimarchi (5’10”, 2022)

Francesca Vassilakos (5’5”, 2022)

Jalyn Walsh (5’9”, 2022)

Giavanna White Principio (6’1”, 2022)

Amelia Wood (6’0”, 2022)

Madalyn Barrows (5’7”, 2023)

Hayley Beebe (5’3”, 2023)

Sophie Bissaillon (5’7”, 2023)

Janay Brantley (5’8”, 2023)

Bri Carey (5’6”, 2023)

Ella Chandler (5’9”, 2023)

Briana Dorr (5’6”, 2023)

Grace Dwileski (5’10”, 2023)

Bella Franchi (5’6”, 2023)

Addison Gates (5’0”, 2023)

Isabella Gilmore (5’10”, 2023)

Kaylee Krysztof (5’6”, 2023)
Jazlynn Logan (5’5”, 2023)

Kaleigh Montanez (5’11”, 2023)

Lauren Patnode (5’11”, 2023)

Ava Pearson (5’4”, 2023)

Meagan Schuermann (5’8”, 2023)

Danielle Seamon (5’9”, 2023)

Gabby Sheth (5’4”, 2023)

Amarah Streiff (5’11”, 2023)

Hannah VanDerzee (5’9”, 2023)

Alaejah Wallace (5’3”, 2023)
Cameryn Wilders (5’5”, 2023)

1st Annual EST Fall Futures Combine (Classes of 2024-2025) - Info W/ Registration Links



1st ANNUAL EST FALL FUTURES COMBINE

Date: Sun, September 15, 2019
Time: 11:00-2:00
Site: Mekeel Christian Academy (36 Sacandaga Rd., Scotia, NY 12302)
Open To: Girls in Classes of 2024-2025 (7th-8th grade)
Cost: $60

It might still be August, but it hasn't been 90 degrees in a while, fall sports practices are underway at high schools, and pumpkin is back at Dunkin'... it's fall hoops time!

One of the goals of Empire State Takeover is to continue expanding to provide opportunities to get girls in the gym. Whether it's high schoolers getting after it & playing in front of college coaches or middle schoolers getting after it and playing in a new, different environment to learn, grow, & get better with other athletes both familiar & new, EST aims to continue growing to keep basketball at the forefront of the discussion for girls athletes in the region.

Jalea Abrams, a participant in both May EST Middle School combines, is already a key piece for Section 4 Class AA power Elmira & is one of the Southern Tier's shining stars.

With that comes this - a new event for the fall of 2019. After two years of highly successful EST Middle School Combines, it's only right to kick off an event for the region's up-and-comers as the leaves are falling just as there's been a high school event for the last handful of years.

The 1st Annual EST Fall Futures Combine will feature plenty of high intensity, controlled 3v3 & 5v5 play to give athletes ample opportunity to test their ability among many of the region's top young talent. Along with that, an additional skills session will be provided, as has been the case with all previous middle school events & some of the high school ones, to also provide the opportunity to learn & get better in a workout format, adding to the true 'combine' feel. These skill work sessions have traditionally been coordinated by current or former collegiate coaches.

This event will be held on Sunday, September 15 at Mekeel Christian Academy in Scotia (Schenectady area). It'll run from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM, and it's open to all 7th-8th grade girls (Classes of 2024-2025). Cost for the event is $60 (jersey included).

Avery Mills, already a standout at Mekeel Christian and the league MVP as a 7th grader, was one of the many standouts at May's 2nd Annual EST Middle School Combine.

The Fall Futures Combine aims to provide a chance for ample evaluation & court time, so registration will be capped at FIFTY ATHLETES. With both previous middle school events having filled to max capacity and high school events consistently attracting over 100 players, I anticipate this inaugural event to fill up quickly!

EST middle school events have proven to be a beneficial stop for many of the region's up and coming ballers, being able to work, learn, get better, & also provide an early measuring stick alongside the top budding young talent. They've housed players of all levels, from those that already have Division 1 offers & top all-state picks to those just finding their love of the game. They have also proven to be a great opportunity for myself & other evaluators to identify young & rising talent at an earlier age, which has been beneficial in the overall evaluation process.

Mackenzie Owens, a standout at Section VI Springville-Griffith and already a Buffalo News All-WNY performer in 7th grade, had a strong EST debut at the 2nd Annual Middle School Combine.

Registration form & payment links (PayPal) are below. The form takes 5 minutes to fill out and is done/submitted securely online. PayPal has been the most popular method of payment for events, but cash, check, & now Venmo are also accepted. Inquire for check payment/Venmo information.

Looking forward to seeing many of the region's future hoopers at Mekeel on September 15! Contact me at any time with any questions. Hope to see you there!

REGISTRATION: https://jeffmlinar.wufoo.com/forms/mboq59l1ha2jl9/

PAYPAL ($63 if PayPal due to their service charge): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=YUQWHS63EQVJG



REGISTERED PLAYER LIST

Mia Ada (5'6", 2024)
Karissa Antoine (5'11", 2024)
Sophia Bonnell (5'2", 2024)
Lily Briggs (5'4", 2024)
Sierra Carter (5'6", 2024)
Liv Christensen (5'2", 2024)
Ellie Clearwater (5'6", 2024)
Grace Cozzens (5'9", 2024)
Megan Deasy (5'4", 2024)
Sydney Delisle (4'11", 2024)
Kaitlyn Hansen (5'7", 2024)
Taylor Holohan (5'8", 2024)
Jazlynn Logan (5'5", 2024)
Alexandra Moses (5'5", 2024)
Mackenzie Owens (5'6", 2024)
Rhiannon Perkins (5'8", 2024)
Aniya Rowe (5'5", 2024)
Sophia Serravillo (5'7", 2024)
Marisa Smith (5'9", 2024)
Allison Stank (5'8", 2024)
Abby Stuart (5'2", 2024)
Gabby Stuart (5'4", 2024)
Leah Thompson (5'10", 2024)
Gianna Toole (5'7", 2024)
Natalie Tucker (5'1", 2024)
Tatiana Tune (5'4", 2024)
Makenzie Williams (6'4", 2024)
Ava Amorese (5'5", 2025)
Jayla Bell (5'6", 2025)
Morgan Brewer (5'2", 2025)
Olivia Chairmonte (5'6", 2025)
Sarah Gaetano (5'2", 2025)
Mallory Heise (5'5", 2025)
Amaia Jackson (5'5", 2025)
Emma Kamas (5'1", 2025)
Hannah Lauenstein (4'8", 2025)
Ava Mamone (5'10", 2025)
Hazell Nickerson (5'10", 2025)
Emma Phelan (5'4", 2025)
Kaitlyn Robbins (5'8", 2025)
Ava Sandroni (5'7", 2025)
Emily Thornton (5'9", 2025)
Grace Villnave (5'5", 2025)
Kelsey vonWedel (5'7", 2025)
Ashaya Wallace (5'4", 2025)
Carolina Williams (5'0", 2025)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

3RD ANNUAL EST SUMMER KICKOFF: Full Info W/ Registration Links



3rd Annual EST Summer Kickoff


*** THIS EVENT IS CURRENTLY SOLD OUT AS OF MAY 11, WITH REGISTRATION CAPPED AT OVER 120 PARTICIPANTS. FUTURE ATHLETE REGISTRATION FORMS WILL BE ADDED, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, TO THE EVENT'S WAITING LIST. THERE ARE USUALLY SEVERAL BACKOUTS FOR VARIOUS REASONS, SO THERE STILL IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE FOR SOME ON THE LIST! ***


Date: Friday, June 14, 2019
Site: Schenectady High School (Pat Riley Sports Center)

Session 1 Time: 5:00-7:00 PM
Session 2 Time: 7:00-9:00 PM

Open to: Girls in Classes of 2020-2022
Cost: $60 ($63 if using PayPal)

Registration Form (COMPLETE TO BE ADDED TO THE EVENT'S WAITING LIST): https://jeffmlinar.wufoo.com/forms/q3zv1z60urqvbs/


Back once again!

The inaugural event in 2017 was the largest EST one-day event to date, and last year's 2nd installment blew past that original mark. After selling out two sessions and seeing coaches from nearly 40 collegiate programs in the gym in 2018, of course the EST Summer Kickoff had to come back for a 3rd year. It'll take place on the evening of Friday, June 14 at the Pat Riley Sports Center at Schenectady High School.

Athletes will hit the court for a 2 hour period, participating in competitive, structured 3v3 & 5v5 games for the duration of the event. The Summer Kickoff is expected to have a diverse base of talent - with the Gym Rat Challenge taking place that weekend, AAU programs and college coaches from throughout the Northeast will be making the trip into the Capital District on Friday. It's proven to be a perfect time to not only get talent from throughout NY & New England in the gym, but to get a wide-ranging base of colleges in the gym to evaluate talent! Anticipate a strong showing from a wide variance of coaches from D2, D3, & JuCo programs, along with Northeast based scouting services & basketball media outlets. The Schenectady HS baselines were lined with coaches last year!

In order to register, all you need to do is submit the registration form online & submit payment. The registration form takes 5 minutes - detailed contact info, basic academic & athletic info - and is submitted quickly & securely online. Payment can be submitted through PayPal for a quick, convenient method ($63 instead of $60 if using PayPal due to their service fee). If you'd prefer using another payment option (check/cash), not a problem - just inform me upon registration.

Empire State Takeover events have emerged as not only a leading option for high level competition & college exposure in upstate NY, but one of the top options in the entire Northeast. The 3rd Annual EST Summer Kickoff is shaping up to be bigger & better and expand on that growth. I anticipate this event selling out and being a can't miss way to showcase your abilities in front of eyes that matter! I hope to see you at Schenectady HS on June 14!


REGISTERED PLAYER LIST (updated 5/12/19 11:15 PM) (CURRENTLY SOLD OUT AT OVER 120 PARTICIPANTS; COMPLETE THE REGISTRATION FORM (LINK ABOVE) TO BE ADDED TO THE EVENT WAIT LIST)


Olivia Baer (5'4", 2020)
Makayla Blake (6'1", 2020)
Sydney Brown (5'8", 2020)
Graycen Dubin (5'8", 2020)
Halea Eaton (5'6", 2020)
Bree Fargnoli (5'10", 2020)
Abby Flynn (5'8", 2020)
Brynne Gilmore (5'6", 2020)
Charli Goverski (5'9", 2020)
Madison Graham (5'8", 2020)
Alaina Holmes (5'8", 2020)
Brinley Inglee (5'3", 2020)
Julia Logana (6'0", 2020)
Abby Lombardoni (5'7", 2020)
Kya McComb (5'7", 2020)
Amanda Mieczkowski (5'7", 2020)
Lexi Miller (5'9", 2020)
Amalia Mulinio (5'7", 2020)
Lauren Nawojski (5'10", 2020)
Ahnalese Pearson (5'4", 2020)
Haedyn Roberts (6'1", 2020)
Piper Seamon (5'8", 2020)
Ally Shoemaker (5'7", 2020)
Kiley Snow (5'11", 2020)
Hannah Stack (5'11", 2020)
Bella Stuart (5'10", 2020)
Emily Sutryk (5'6", 2020)
Kaitlyn Watrobski (5'7", 2020)
Ava Achtyl (6'1", 2021)
Lori Adams (5'8", 2021)
Kennady Amo (5'3", 2021)
Alana Batson (5'8", 2021)
Hannah Brooks (5'7", 2021)
Molly Brophy (5'11", 2021)
Nadia Brown (5'3", 2021)
Solé Carrington (5'6", 2021)
Gianna Chairmonte (5'5", 2021)
Payton Couture (5'9", 2021)
Catie Cunningham (5'11", 2021)
Jakaiya Dewer (5'7", 2021)
Alyssa DiMillo (5'5", 2021)
Laycee Drake (5'5", 2021)
Lauren Filien (6'0", 2021)
KJ Gordon (5'3", 2021)
Jenna Granger (5'8", 2021)
Julia Harvey (5'7", 2021)
Leana Heitmann (6'0", 2021)
Melanie Hoyt (6'2", 2021)
Caroline Iannotti (5'5", 2021)
Anna Jankovic (5'9", 2021)
Maddie Johnson (5'0", 2021)
Anna Lee (5'6", 2021)
Maddisyn Mahoney (6'2", 2021)
Julia Mann (5'9", 2021)
Sarah Mattfeld (5'9", 2021)
Antonia May (5'11", 2021)
Emily McLaughlin (5'6", 2021)
Jordyn Meunier (5'9", 2021)
Victoria Morgan (5'8", 2021)
Sophia Murray (5'4", 2021)
Suzie Nemec (5'8", 2021)
Olivia Olsen (6'2", 2021)
Sydney Ottomano (5'7", 2021)
Sophie Pelton (5'4", 2021)
Lilly Phillips (5'11", 2021)
Sophie Phillips (5'11", 2021)
Aysia Pink (5'9", 2021)
Sabrina Pressley (5'8", 2021)
Abby Racine (5'11", 2021)
Kahlia Rivera (5'9", 2021)
Lexie Roe (5'7", 2021)
Julia Rowe (5'11", 2021)
Skye Ryan (6'1", 2021)
Mackenzie Searles (5'9", 2021)
Karlyssa Shifflett (5'8", 2021)
Jenna Slader (5'5", 2021)
Bella Trostle (5'4", 2021)
Reese Vaughan (5'9", 2021)
Sophia Wakin (5'10", 2021)
Madison Watts (5'6", 2021)
Carly Atty (5'4", 2022)
Alexis Belrose (5'3", 2022)
Lily Brenner (5'7", 2022)
Kayleigh Bryant (5'8", 2022)
Haley Burchhardt (5'5", 2022)
Kaelah Carter (5'6", 2022)
Makya Chapman (5'2", 2022)
Callie Chevalier (5'9", 2022)
Sophia Chevrier (5'8", 2022)
Maddie Cozzens (5'11", 2022)
Catherine Dadey (5'8", 2022)
Emily Delisle (5'5", 2022)
Ryleigh Endres (5'2", 2022)
Stasia Epler (5'6", 2022)
Emily Evans (5'6", 2022)
Morgan Giancaterino (5'8", 2022)
Abby Hansen (5'6", 2022)
Samantha Hansen (5'10", 2022)
Sydney Huhtala (5'9", 2022)
Sarah Jacques (6'0", 2022)
Teagan Kamm (6'1", 2022)
Sylvia Liddle (5'11", 2022)
Michelina Lombardi (5'5", 2022)
Maren Louridas (5'11", 2022)
Ashlyn Marron (5'11", 2022)
Maddie Meyer (5'4", 2022)
Margaret Nawojski (5'8", 2022)
Kate Peek (5'9", 2022)
Gretchen Perine (5'3", 2022)
Jackie Piddock (5'8", 2022)
Claire Pikett (6'0", 2022)
Jaylyn Prouty (5'1", 2022)
Carlie Rzeszotarski (6'0", 2022)
Carly Scott (5'3", 2022)
Emma Shields (6'2", 2022)
Jenna Sloan (5'8", 2022)
Kyla Smith (5'4", 2022)
Makenzie Smith (5'10", 2022)
Morgan Tompkins (5'10", 2022)
Macie Trimarchi (5'10", 2022)
Francesca Vassilakos (5'5", 2022)
Jalyn Walsh (5'9", 2022)
Giavanna White-Principio (6'1", 2022)
Alexis Wright (5'11", 2022)
Natasha Chudy (6'1")
Sydney Hart (5'8")
Lauren Patnode (5'11")
Danielle Seamon (5'8")
Cameryn Wilders (5'6")
Audrey Shields (5'9")

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

2nd Annual EST Middle School Combine (SOLD OUT - FILL OUT REGISTRATION FORM TO BE ADDED TO WAITING LIST)


THIS EVENT IS CURRENTLY SOLD OUT. TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST, PLEASE FILL OUT THE REGISTRATION FORM AT THE LINK BELOW & I WILL CONTACT YOU DIRECTLY!!!

High school basketball season is coming to a close... it's about time for EST events to come back for 2019!

With the success of last spring's inaugural middle school event, it's only right to bring it back for another go-around. On the evening of Friday, May 10, the Pat Riley Sports Center @ Schenectady High School will host the 2nd Annual EST Middle School Combine.

The event is open to all girls' basketball players in the 2023-2024 graduating classes (7th-8th grade). An emphasis will be placed on the combination of skills/drills/individual breakdowns and live play - as usual for EST events, former/current collegiate coaches will run the individual skills & breakdown portion of the event. Along with that, athletes will participate in highly competitive, structured 3v3 & 5v5 action. A chance for young players to get a taste of the format of an individual event similar to a college elite camp, all while seeing where they stack up among the top players of their age in the Northeast and LEARNING & IMPROVING! Registration & PayPal links below:


The inaugural Middle School Combine was a major success. Nearly 60 players went to work at the Schenectady HS gymnasium last May. Not only was there a strong representation from the Capital District, but additional players from Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and the Southern Tier came out to participate. There were even athletes from Pennsylvania & Vermont in the gym. The individual breakdowns to start the event were coordinated by SUNY Oswego women's coach Sean Pinkerton. Athletes that participated last May have already made waves at the varsity level at a young age, including all-league & even all-state selections in various sections, along with being important pieces of successful varsity teams.

Empire State Takeover events have become a must-stop for much of upstate NY & New England's top talent. Numbers in all events have increased with time - from 5 teams in 2015's inaugural summer league to 8 in each of the following three years, and from 24 players in the 2015 inaugural fall event to selling out at approximately 120 in recent showcases. Attendance from college coaches, prep school coaches, scouting services & other media outlets has increased along with the jump in talent. This is truly an outlet where your daughter can get tested, see where she measures up among the region's best, get in front of eyes that matter, and receive bang for your buck!

Please contact me directly or reach out via the website or social media with any questions. Hope to see you in the building on May 10!

REGISTERED PLAYER LIST (updated 4/30/19 12:00 PM)

Jalea Abrams (5'8", 2023)
Grace Almeida (5'10", 2023)
Karissa Antoine (5'11", 2024)
Sophia Bonnell (5'1", 2024)
Addie Borowsky (5'7", 2023)
Brianna Carey (5'6", 2023)
Maya Carpenter (5'5", 2023)
Ellie Cerf (5'0", 2024)
Ellie Clearwater (5'4', 2024)
Ella Chandler (5'7", 2023)
Grace Cozzens (5'8", 2024)
Malati Culver (5'9", 2023)
Sydney Delisle (4'10", 2024)
Ashley DiCarlo (5'4", 2023)
Alyssa Dobson (5'4", 2023)
Brooklyn Douglass (5'3", 2023)
Taylor Evans (5'4", 2024)
Adriana Fontana (5'5", 2024)
Natalie Fox (5'11", 2024)
Isabella Franchi (5'6", 2023)
Isabella Gilmore (5'6", 2024)
Klarissa Goode (5'4", 2025)
Caydence Hadley (6'0", 2023)
Sara Hotaling (5'6", 2023)
Sophia Jabour (5'6", 2023)
Jackie Kozakiewicz (5'4", 2024)
Kaetlyn L'Amoreaux (5'6", 2023)
Quincy Lake (5'3", 2023)
Cora Long (5'2", 2023)
Alyssa Martin (5'2", 2023)
Amya McLeod (5'6", 2023)
Imani McNeil (5'9", 2023)
Avery Mills (5'6", 2024)
Kaleigh Montanez (5'10", 2023)
Alexandra Moses (5'4", 2024)
Avrie Nannery (5'10", 2024)
Allison O'Hanlon (5'8", 2024)
Keaira Odume (5'7", 2023)
Mackenzie Owens (5'6", 2024)
Lauren Patnode (5'10", 2023)
Ava Pearson (5'4", 2023)
Rhiannon Perkins (5'7", 2024)
Megan Perrine (6'0", 2023)
Emma Phelan (5'4", 2025)
Kristina Rush (5'6", 2023)
Meagan Schuermann (5'9", 2023)
Melissa Schuermann (5'2", 2023)
Isabella Seeberger (5'6", 2023)
Sophia Serravillo (5'6", 2024)
Audrey Shields (5'9", 2024)
Amarah Streiff (5'11", 2023)
Abby Stuart (5'0", 2024)
Gabby Stuart (5'4", 2024)
Sidney Tabor (6'1", 2023)
Kathleen Taru (5'8", 2024)
Hannah VanDerzee (5'9", 2023)
Bella Vincent (5'8", 2024)
Alaejah Wallace (5'2", 2023)
Cameryn Wilders (5'5", 2023)
Makenzie Williams (6'3", 2024)
Nevaeh Wingate (5'11", 2023)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Jamesville-DeWitt Holds Off Averill Park in Instant Classic

March 5, 2019

Jamesville-DeWitt 65, Averill Park 60 (OT)

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and the Jamesville-DeWitt & Averill Park girls' basketball teams playing each other in regionals. History buffs would be quick to point out that JD has owned the matchup in recent memory, winning the last 5 years up to this point. Red Ram supporters walked in the Shenendehowa gym Tuesday night hoping for history to repeat itself, and an overwhelming contingent of Averill Park faithfuls came in hoping the Warriors would write their own history. In a game that quickly crossed over to the 'instant classic' territory in the 2nd half, Jamesville-DeWitt was able to bounce back after losing all of a double-digit 4th quarter lead to escape and retain the crown.

Momo LaClair lived up to the hype & then some Tuesday, going off for a game high 27 points and making her share of big plays in Jamesville-DeWitt's win.
The first 8 minutes weren't indicative of how the last 28 would go. Nerves combined with each team having scouted the other extensively made for a start filled with turnovers and tough shots. It was still just 5-2 in favor of Averill Park in the final minute of the 1st quarter before things started to open up. Gabby Stickle (JD 2020) drove & finished, then after Olivia Kelley (Averill Park 2019; Manhattanville commit) answered with a bucket, Stickle banked home a three to tie it up at 7 going back into the huddle. The JD run continued into the 2nd quarter. Sydney Baker (JD 2020) buried a three to start a quick flurry. Kelley came back with 4 quick points before Baker hit another three, all of this coming in the first minute of the quarter. The 2nd Baker trey sparked an 8-0 spurt by the Red Rams, with Paige Keeler (JD 2020) hitting a three that forced an Averill Park timeout and Momo LaClair (JD 2021) adding a bucket to give them an 18-11 lead. The lead would extend to 8 on a LaClair top of the key three, but Averill Park would reel off 6 straight points - 4 more from Kelley - to cut into the deficit. The Red Rams would get a layup from Andrea Sumida (JD 2020) before the half to give them a 25-21 lead.

The 3rd quarter was a virtuoso offensive performance on both sides most of the way. It started with a Michelina Lombardi (Averill Park 2022) three and LaClair responding with a basket, which would become a trend. Kelsey Wood (Averill Park 2020) would then score off JD's press, getting the Warrior standout into the scoring column after a scoreless 1st half, and Stickle, Kelley, and Sumida would quickly answer back & forth with buckets in a fast and furious start to the quarter. Every point was answered by an equal result on the other end for the first half of the period until LaClair scored 4 straight - once on a drive & finish and then tacking on 2 free throws - to give JD a 40-35 lead. Averill Park got 3 points back on a trey from Anna Jankovic (Averill Park 2021), but it would be more Momo for JD, getting 6 more points late in the quarter from her as she took control for the Section 3 champs en route to a 48-40 lead.

Kelsey Wood started to assert herself in the 2nd half & ended up dominating the 4th quarter - she scored all 17 of her points after halftime.
Momo & Gabby would combine again to start the 4th, giving Jamesville-DeWitt their largest lead. LaClair started the quarter with a bucket, and then Stickle added an and-one to give JD their largest lead at 53-40 with 6:37 remaining. The tide would turn from there, however, as a scrambling Averill Park squad dialed up the pressure & physicality to get back into it. It started with another Lombardi basket, then Kelsey Wood went to work. Often on offensive rebounds or feeds from Olivia Kelley, she would find ways to score or get to the line. A bucket at the 5:02 mark would cut AP's deficit back to single digits. Another made it 53-46 with 3:33 left. A three-point play not long after and another trip to the line - where she split the free throws - cut it to 53-50 with over 2 minutes to play and had the huge AP contingent at a fever pitch. They continued to force turnovers & get stops on the other end, and another Kelsey bucket made it 53-52 with :39.0 remaining - a 12-0 AP run, and a 10-0 Wood run. The Warriors turned JD over on the ensuing possession and Amelia Wood (Averill Park 2022) was fouled. She split a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left, pulling AP even for the first time since early in the 2nd quarter. On the final JD possession, Keeler missed a three and Kelsey grabbed the rebound, putting an end to regulation in the most improbable of ways - AP scoring the last 13, holding JD scoreless over the last 6:37 to send it to overtime.

It didn't take long in the extra session for the Red Rams to get their mojo back. Right after Keeler missed a potential game winner in regulation, she started off the overtime by banging home a three after being left open in the right corner. A pair of Amelia Wood free throws was then answered with a Baker bucket and Keeler free throw, then LaClair found Sumida for a layup to run JD's lead to 61-55. Averill Park fought back one more time. It started with a Kelley finish around the rim, then Amelia Wood got back to the line - drawing Stickle's 5th foul in the process - and split a pair. After a pair of missed JD free throws, Kelley scored again, cutting their deficit to 61-60 with 25 seconds left. The Red Rams handled Averill Park's pressure in the backcourt, and they were unable to foul until it was in Momo's hands, where she went to the line with 13 seconds left. She calmly buried a pair to give them a 3 point lead. On AP's final possession, a long three missed the mark, and it was LaClair again sinking two free throws in the final seconds to ice the game.

17 points for Gabby Stickle, who's had a big playoff run, to help JD advance.
Momo LaClair went off for Jamesville-DeWitt in the win. She finished with 27 points, including 14 in a phenomenal 3rd quarter. Gabby Stickle added 17 points, and she was one of three players in red to hit 2 threes on the night. Syd Baker added 8, Paige Keeler had 4 of her 7 in the extra session, and Andrea Sumida had 6 points & 13 rebounds. For Averill Park, Kelsey Wood pumped in 17 points, all of them coming in a huge 2nd half, and added a 20+ rebound performance. Olivia Kelley ended her high school career with one of her best games, adding 16 points and filling the stat sheet in various ways. Michelina Lombardi and Amelia Wood, both 2022s, added 12 & 10 points respectively. Anna Jankovic rounded out the AP scoring with 5.


#JeffsNotes

- In five years of being involved in girls' basketball in this capacity, whenever anyone has asked me about 'best games' along the way, there's always been one that comes to mind. Shen/Ossining in state playoffs at HVCC, which was in 2016 if memory serves me right. Now it's two games. Add Tuesday's Jamesville-DeWitt/Averill Park showdown to that list. The game had pretty much anything I could look for. JD had control in the 4th quarter, then AP made a huge run in front of a raucous home crowd to send it to overtime. JD responded like champions, bouncing back from the tip in the overtime session. The crowd was maybe the best I've been around at a girls game - definitely the best this winter. Between the crowd size & the acoustics, Shen was probably the perfect venue for the night. The stars were stars in every sense of the word, especially in the 2nd half, and supporting cast players made plays. Game of the year, and perhaps years to come.

When JD needed it most, Paige Keeler delivered with a three to start overtime & get the Red Rams headed in the right direction.


- Going into the game, where I thought the difference between this year & the previous couple years lied was that Averill Park was going to make a run, and how the game went would depend on how JD responded. Didn't know when it would be, didn't know if it would be 8-0, 10-2, or anything else. Well, the run happened, and it was a big one. Averill Park went on an extended 13-0 run to end regulation, and they had all of the momentum. JD hadn't scored in nearly 7 minutes... and then they responded. Paige Keeler hit a three 10 seconds into overtime to start it off, and they ended up scoring 8 of the first 10 in the extra session. The run happened, Jamesville-DeWitt responded when the pressure got to its peak, and they found a way to advance.

- More to talk about with Averill Park than I can wrap my head around. It ended the high school basketball chapter for Olivia Kelley, someone AP will sorely miss. The next chapter begins soon for her though, as their emotional leader & key contributor will be playing at the next level at Manhattanville - a major pickup for them. Kelsey Wood imposed her will in the most important moments, dominating at both ends of the floor for a long stretch, including scoring 10 straight points in that 13-0 4th quarter run. I hope Michelina Lombardi realizes she won't be sneaking up on anyone anymore, as their 2022 point guard has officially arrived. She made JD pay numerous times for leaving her open and was a sparkplug for the Warriors at the defensive end. The energy in the building through much of that game, especially in the 4th quarter, was special. They collectively lived up to their 'Warriors' name - lot of grit & toughness in the AP crew, something that I love about them.

Olivia Kelley gave AP one of her best overall games Tuesday - a winning mentality that can pay dividends quickly at Manhattanville going forward.
- Anyone in the 518 that didn't know who Momo LaClair was before this game got put on in a major way. Just a 2021, she's been doing it at a high level for a long time already, and this was one of her best performances that I've seen. The quickness, ability to fight fire with fire when pressured to get to the rim, shiftiness & changing speeds, finishing ability, willingness to create for others, shooting ability, you name it. They needed all of what Momo could give them Tuesday, and she delivered.

- To wrap back around to the beginning sentence... three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and JD/AP. Two teams that are, in my eyes, consistently in the top handful of teams in Class A in NY. It just so happens that the way brackets are split, they always have to play each other in regional finals or semifinals. Two teams that, despite the rivalry, have mutual respect for each other... the nightcap at Shen on Tuesday was a state semifinal/final quality game, just 10 days in advance. Buckle up.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Shen Holds Off Saratoga To Get Back To Winner's Circle in Section 2 Class AA

March 2, 2019

The final game of Section 2 championship weekend brought familiar opponents to the floor in a highly anticipated rubber match. Shenendehowa & Saratoga Springs played to a draw in regular season matchups, with each taking home a win on their home floor. In the matchup that mattered most, Shen was able to bounce back from a slow start to take the lead and eventually gain control in the 2nd half. A big Saratoga run when it looked all but over made for some late game drama, but a dagger three in the waning moments proved to be the knockout punch as Shen found itself advancing back into regional play.

Cat Almeida had a strong 1st half and finished in double figures with 10 points. With her performance Saturday & dominant showing in semis Thursday, the Quinnipiac signee was awarded the Class AA Tournament MVP.
A huge start from Saratoga Springs 2020 standout Dolly Cairns got the Blue Streaks off on the right foot. 7 points in the first 2+ minutes gave Saratoga a 7-3 lead. She later tacked on a pair of free throws and an and-one, giving her Saratoga's first 12 points, and a Kerry Flaherty (Saratoga Springs 2019; Holy Cross signee) three gave them a 15-7 lead late in the quarter. Shen responded to the 8-0 Saratoga spurt by starting a run of their own that would stretch even farther. They scored the last 5 of the quarter to cut their deficit to 15-12, then it continued into the 2nd quarter starting with a Cat Almeida (Shenendehowa 2019; Quinnipiac signee) hoop and harm to tie it up. Anna Milham (Shenendehowa 2019) then canned a three to give the Plainsmen the lead, and Jill Huerter (Shenendehowa 2022) tacked on a bucket and Milham buried another triple to extend their run to 16-0. Cairns finally stopped the run with a bucket, then her & Milham traded threes in what was an early trend, as both had monster starts. Saratoga cut it back to 4 late in the half on a Flaherty three, but Almeida answered with a basket to send Shen into the locker room up 31-25.

As what has been the case in some of their bigger games this winter, Shen started with a flurry to start the 3rd quarter. Milham opened the scoring, then Simone Walker (Shen 2020) and Jess Wagoner (Shen 2019; Caldwell signee) added buckets to give them a double-digit lead. The 3rd quarter would get sloppy, choppy, and at times just ugly from there, as the physicality would increase and foul calls & emotions would rise as a result. Saratoga didn't have a made field goal in the quarter, but shot 8/10 from the line and still found themselves down just 8 late in the quarter. That's when Kaitlyn Watrobski (Shen 2020), who had seen limited action to that point, came through. She broke into the scoring column with a two, then added a three to end the 3rd and put Shen up 46-33. The lead ballooned from there, with Watrobski and Meghan Huerter (Shen 2021) hitting threes after a Cairns bucket to start the 4th, with Huerter's conversion giving Shen their largest lead at 52-35. That's when the lid would be placed on the basket for Shen, and Saratoga was in line to make one last run. It started with a trey and two free throws from Flaherty, then Abby Ray (Saratoga Springs 2021) scored to cut the deficit to 10. Another Flaherty basket was followed by two Natasha Chudy (Saratoga Springs 2023) free throws - after Shen committed their 5th team foul of the quarter - cutting Saratoga's deficit down to 52-46 with 3:34 remaining. Kayla Lahart then scored, as the Blue Streaks found themselves down 4 with a 13-0 run. Walker finally stopped the Shen bleeding with a bucket, and after Flaherty hit another pair of free throws with 1:20 left, the stage was set. On the ensuing possession, Watrobski got the ball with space and buried a back-breaking three, giving Shen a 57-50 lead with 1:05 left. Missed shots on the next two Saratoga possessions were secured by Shen, and Walker & Wagoner split free throw attempts to give them a 9 point lead in the last minute and effectively put the game out of reach.

Dolly Cairns went off in her first sectional final appearance, going for a game high 27 points in a narrow loss.
Anna Milham, who barely played after halftime due to an apparent injury, led Shen in the scoring column with 15 points thanks to a huge 1st half. Kaitlyn Watrobski picked up the slack in Milham's absence - after going scoreless for the first 22 minutes, she went off for 13 points in the closing stages. Cat Almeida joined them in double figures, scoring all 10 of her points in the 1st half. On the Saratoga end, Dolly Cairns was fantastic from start to finish and led all scorers with 27 points. Kerry Flaherty, who was faceguarded from the jump, picked up her production throughout the game and added 18 points.

Kaitlyn Watrobski made critical plays in the 2nd half for Shen, contributing 13 points when they needed it most.

#JeffsNotes

There is a shelf life to everything, and this includes Shen/Toga matchups. I was at the first one, which was a good one to watch especially for an early season game, and everyone that was at the game at Shen late in the regular season has put it in the category of instant classic. This sectional final certainly had its pros as well. Dolly, who's always fun to watch, seems to take it to another gear when the team in green is at the other bench. I enjoyed seeing Anna Milham, who I've been a fan of, play some of her best basketball in the 1st half - and then get rewarded with a spot on the all-tournament team. It was nice to see Kaitlyn Watrobski make big shots late, as she's been coming on more recently after ankle issues sidelined her for a while, including earlier in the season. The teams played extra hard, which is great. Saratoga & Shen are certainly worthy opponents for each other.

But beyond all of that, I couldn't help but get the feeling that these two teams perhaps know each other a little too well.

The emotions were running a little higher in what's always a good rivalry, as they should be with the stakes being raised, but the game - especially the individual matchups - felt similar to what you'd see in the backyard of 1 on 1 games between siblings that are getting progressively more annoyed with each other. High level talent on the court - most that saw action will play basketball in college, with a nice percentage of them receiving scholarship money to do so - but I, for one, will be cool with these two teams recharging the battery and not going up against each other for the next several months.

A five year HS varsity career is now in the books for Kerry Flaherty, who heads to Holy Cross to start the next stage in a few months.
Last but not least, it's going to feel weird not seeing Kerry Flaherty in a Saratoga uniform next year. She was moved up to the varsity ranks as an 8th grader, which was my first year doing EST. She was one of the originals, playing on an 'All Day' squad that won the inaugural EST summer league championship. I've always said the standouts from the Class of 2019 that had been involved with EST events since the start were what took this thing to another level. Kerry's on to bigger & better things in the fall at Holy Cross with a certainly notable high school career at Saratoga in the books, but with the Class of 2019 graduating in a few months, it almost feels bittersweet as the end of the original era. Best of luck to Kerry as the sights now set on the next level!