Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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

3rd Annual EST Summer Kickoff


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)


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!


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)
Rylee Carpenter (5'10", 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)
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)
Mary Young (5'9", 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)
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



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.


- 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.


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!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Section 2 Class B Semis: Mechanicville Rolls, Fonda Knocks Off Top Seed

February 26, 2019

Usually when I cross the river and make an Unbreakable Nutrition stop, it's before watching perennial Class A power Averill Park. The trip was the same, the venue was the same, but the teams were different on Tuesday night, as AP played host to the Section 2 Class B semifinals. In the opener, Mechanicville took care of business as the game wore on, running away to a W against Mekeel. The nightcap proved to be the story, as #13 seed Fonda-Fultonville kept their playoff run alive and crashed the party on thoughts of an all-Wasaren final with a win over top-seeded Tamarac.

Mechanicville 62, Mekeel Christian Academy 38

A late 1st quarter run from Mekeel after a strong start from Mechanicville made it seem like they settled in, but the 2nd seeded Raiders responded by dominating the middle quarters and eliminating any thoughts of late-game drama. They ran their lead into the 20s by the middle of the 3rd quarter, winning in the same gym that they ended their season in last year to advance to the Class B finals.

Amy DiSiena went to work once again for Mechanicville, finishing with 18 points in Tuesday's win.
Mechanicville started off on the right foot, jumping to a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes thanks to their pressure. Mekeel, up in Class B this year after a couple successful years in the C ranks, was able to settle in and cut their deficit, briefly taking a 13-12 lead late in the quarter on a Jill Ballard (Mekeel 2020) three point play. That lead - the Lions' only lead of the night - was very short-lived, as Amy DiSiena (Mechanicville 2021) provided a bucket before the end of the quarter, giving them a 14-13 edge. Mechanicville's pressure & physicality started to take its toll on a young Mekeel squad as the 1st half wore on, and the Raiders started to gain separation in the 2nd quarter. A 7-0 spurt with a pair of DiSiena buckets and capped by a Chloe Goverski (Mechanicville 2022) trey gave them a 21-14 lead. The slow lead extension continued through the end of the half, with Jada Brown (Mechanicville 2020) scoring their last 6 of the half and pushing their lead to 30-20.

The Raiders carried their momentum into the 2nd half, and it didn't take long for them to break it open. Brown started it with 5 quick points, giving her 11 in a row for Mechanicville, and by the time DiSiena added a pair of buckets, they had scored the first 11 of the 3rd and extended their lead to 41-20. Mekeel briefly stopped the bleeding, scoring 4 straight in the middle of the quarter, but Mechanicville pushed their lead to 49-27 by the end of the 3rd. From there, Mekeel never chipped their deficit closer than 17 as the Raiders hit cruise control into the Class B final.

Jada Brown played well throughout for Mechanicville, finishing with 14 points in their semifinal W.
Amy DiSiena continued her strong play this season with a strong semifinal showing, finishing with a game high 18 points. Jada Brown played well at both ends in the win and added 14 points, and AJ-Analda Joseph (Mechanicville 2020) joined them in double digits with 10, 8 coming in the 3rd quarter. For Mekeel, Avery Mills (2024) put an end to a season that put her on the local map as a 7th grader with a team high 13 points. Jill Ballard joined her in double digits, finishing with 11.

Fonda-Fultonville 52, Tamarac 41

Class B in Section 2 has been wide open the entire season, with no one truly separating themselves as a frontrunner. That became ever more evident in Tuesday's nightcap, when the #13 seed from Fonda-Fultonville gained control late in the 1st half and never relinquished it, continuing their run by pulling off the most striking seeding upset in recent memory by knocking off top-seeded Tamarac.

Carly Atty was huge in Fonda's semifinal W, finishing with 11 pts (3 treys) while effectively serving as their primary ballhandler against the top seed's pressure.
The game became entertaining, but the start was slow for both sides, with a 1st quarter filled with ice-cold perimeter shooting - and a lot of it. Both teams primarily lived behind the arc in the opening stanza, with no one scoring inside the arc until :31.0 left in the quarter, when Syrita Faraj (Tamarac 2021) finished at the rim & then added a short jumper before the buzzer, giving Tamarac a 10-6 lead. They extended their lead to 14-6 early in the quarter before the basket started to open up for Fonda. It started with a Carly Atty (Fonda-Fultonville 2022) three to break a 6+ minute drought, then it became the Abby Lombardoni show. After Faraj scored again, the Fonda-Fultonville 2020 answered with 5 quick points. She added a free throw and another bucket to cut their deficit to 1, and another Faraj make was answered with a Lombardoni trey to tie it up. Trailing 21-20 late in the half, Lombardoni got room and canned another one from deep, giving Fonda a lead they'd never relinquish. Marilyn Whitcavitch (Fonda-Fultonville 2022) then finished through contact, and Lombardoni banked home yet another three - her 5th of the half, 17th point of the 2nd quarter & 20th of the half - to give them a 28-21 lead at the break.

The Fonda momentum continued into the 3rd quarter. A Faraj free throw started the half, but Fonda reeled off 8 straight points - threes from Lombardoni & Atty wrapped around a Whitcavitch midrange J - to extend their run to 19-2 and lead to 36-22. Tamarac would cut their deficit to single digits when Emily Erickson (Tamarac 2019) finished off an and-one, and they went into the 4th quarter down 9 at 41-32. The Braves got what they needed to start the 4th quarter, extending their lead back to 13 after an Atty drive & finish at the rim. The cushion extended to 14 once more on a pair of Lombardoni free throws with 4:11 remaining, and although Fonda went without a field goal the rest of the way - only tacking on a pair of free throws in the final minute - Tamarac was never able to really challenge, only getting as close as 9 on an Erickson three with 1:09 left.

Syrita Faraj was a bright spot for Tamarac, finding ways to make life difficult for Fonda & finishing with 12 pts.
Abby Lombardoni continued her recent tear, going off for a game high 28 points in the victory. She had 20 in the 1st half, 17 of those coming in the 2nd quarter, and she knocked down 7 threes in the process. Carly Atty also finished in double digits, contributing 11 points and their other 3 triples. For Tamarac, Syrita Faraj led the way with 12 points and was the only Bengal in double figures.


- Of course, I'm neutral with this stuff and always will be. I'm here to evaluate, provide coverage of these hoopers, and in this segment, give my thoughts & observations. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel great for the Fonda girls and their coach, Flip Boshart. I understand why they were given the 13 seed - young & inconsistent, play in the WAC, lost games that they would've needed to win to receive a favorable seed - but more than a few people heard my thoughts along the way about their ability to make a real run. Well, here we are, and they're one of two Section 2 Class B teams that will be playing into March. They're playing their best basketball now, which every team hopes to achieve. The ball is moving crisply, they're locked in as a team defensively, they're playing with energy & confidence, and Coach Boshart has clearly done his homework. Happy for him, someone who puts in the work throughout the year for his program and cares about his players - how many times do you see high school coaches going to watch their players' AAU games? I'll wait - and it's paying dividends, perhaps even ahead of schedule.

With another huge game Tuesday, it can be said that Fonda-Fultonville 2020 Abby Lombardoni is on a tear this sectional season.
- The last couple weeks have been Abby Lombardoni's coming-out party, and Tamarac fell victim to it Tuesday. I've been watching Abby since her freshman year, the back end of the J-Tay days where I believe Abby was their 2nd leading scorer behind Julianna Taylor, now at Brockport. This Abby is a different Abby than what I've seen before. She's sharp, quicker in every way, and playing with a completely different level of confidence. She's always been able to hit shots, but what's striking me is how much more quickly she's getting her shot off, how much better she's getting at creating space off the dribble, and how much more effective she is getting to the rim with both her right & left. On top of the 28 point performance - including 7 threes, which she got off the catch, off the dribble, off screens, you name it - she flashed playmaking ability, including a beautiful pass going to her left, wrapping it around a defender setting up for a charge in traffic to an open teammate on the right block. With continued improvements, look for Abby to become a priority recruit for many D3s over the next year.

- While Fonda has had a fantastic run, Mechanicville is absolutely their toughest opponent along the way as far as personnel & styles go... and the Raiders are playing some of their best basketball now as well. They have a handful of players that can really hurt you, and it showed when they ran away from Mekeel without Charli Goverski handling much of the scoring load. Amy DiSiena lived at or around the rim. Jada Brown played perhaps the best game I've seen her play, making an impact at both ends and also pulling up & hitting a couple midrange jumpers when the D was retreating. Dribble penetration from those three along with Chloe Goverski opened things up for AJ-Analda Joseph at the rim. They're good, pretty well-rounded, and Coach Goverski & staff had a keen eye on the nightcap Tuesday... expect them to be strategically ready for Fonda.

Amy DiSiena (Mechanicville 2021) is among my favorite players in Section 2 that you might not be aware of yet, and she showed why in Tuesday's win.
- I've said this to several people over the course of this season, now I'll throw it in a blog post... give me Amy DiSiena on my team any day. She might basically be an undersized forward - maybe 5'8"? - but she's one of those players that height doesn't matter. She finds ways to score around the rim, carves space, and finishes strong through contact. She's as tough as they come and is very active on the glass at both ends. Then there's the passing & playmaking ability, which is my favorite thing about her game. Amy often assumes the role of point forward, facing up from the high post or top of the key and going to work from there. The moment a second defender starts to commit, I've seen her lace teammates with on-time, on-target passes - sometimes really threading the needle - more than enough times to know a DiSiena dime isn't a fluke. Besides the aforementioned occasional eye-opening pass, her game isn't flashy, but she's the type of player that makes a good team great. Mechanicville, with Amy being a key part, has the opportunity to become a Section 2 champion on Saturday.

Five more years of Mekeel 2024 Avery Mills... buckle up!
- Last but not least... it might not have been the result Mekeel was looking for, but perhaps a wider audience was exposed to potentially the future of Section 2 basketball. I'm very rarely all in on someone before they hit their high school years as so much can change, people can catch up, etc., but this is me saying I'm all in on Avery Mills. I watched her a little on the AAU circuit with NY Havoc as a 6th grader and into this fall, and I was able to catch Mekeel in action three times this winter. At this stage, she's about as gifted as there is in the 2024 class in upstate NY, and it's not because of wild athleticism. She is deceptively quick, but this comes down to good old-fashioned skill. She can already hit with deep range, finish at the rim, and she has an extensive in-between game package, all while being able to create what she wants off the dribble. Her confidence & court presence far surpass her age, and it's all the sort of stuff that translates well over time. I look back at what a current freshman was two years ago for my first thought... at this stage, she reminds me of Jackie Piddock two years ago, except more bucket-oriented. Anyone that knows what I think of Lil' P knows that's pretty high praise... looking forward to seeing Avery for the next FIVE years.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

MHAL Semifinals: Millbrook Fends Off Spackenkill, FDR Uses Big 2nd Half to Handle Red Hook

February 19, 2019

Another day that's turned into an annual trip for me is the opening of the Mid-Hudson Athletic League playoffs. A league that features many of Section 9's stronger Class A, B, & C teams - including the sectional champions in each of those classes last year - sends its top two teams in each division to a semifinal round. The 2019 field looked similar to the 2018 field, with only one new face (Red Hook) in the playoff equation. They looked sharp in the first 16 minutes of Tuesday's nightcap before a relentless FDR squad took control in the 3rd quarter. In the night's opener, Millbrook was able to overcome the adversity of losing one of its main guns to fouls early in the 4th quarter, getting contributions from a young supporting cast to knock off Spackenkill.

Millbrook 49, Spackenkill 42

In a game that featured eight lead changes and a margin that remained in single digits from end to end, Millbrook (#1 in Class C state rankings) was able to gain much needed separation in the 4th quarter and earn a quality win over their opponents from Spackenkill (#22 in Class B state rankings).

Erin Fox stepped up even more when needed, producing a game high 23 points in a tough Millbrook win.
A slow start both ways started to pick up late in the 1st quarter. After a pair of Sam McKenna (Millbrook 2019; Mitchell commit) buckets, Erin Fox (Millbrook 2020; Marist commit) knocked down a three to give them a 9-4 edge. Spackenkill, as was the case on more than one occasion, sent their response with the three ball. Issy Herrera (Spackenkill 2019; U of Chicago commit) and Simone Pelish (Spackenkill 2024) dialed long distance to end the quarter, with Pelish's right corner trey before the buzzer giving Spackenkill a 10-9 edge. 6 quick Fox points to start the 2nd, with another Pelish trey sandwiched in between them, gave Millbrook the lead back. They extended it to 23-17 late in the quarter thanks again to Fox, who had 10 in the 2nd stanza, but Spackenkill ended the 2nd quarter the same way they did the 1st. An 8-0 run over the last 1:20 - a pair of Pelish free throws in between two Herrera threes, both off the glass - gave Spackenkill a 25-23 lead going into the locker room.

The teams spent more time at the free throw line early in the 2nd half than anywhere else, with Millbrook & Spackenkill combining to make 2 field goals and shoot 14 free throws in the 3rd quarter, and foul issues started to pile up. McKenna was originally a recipient, going 3/4 from the line in the opening moments of the half, but it eventually sent her to the bench, as the longtime Millbrook standout headed to the bench with 4 fouls at the 4:16 mark in the 3rd. Spackenkill was unable to capitalize, however, as a staunch defensive effort from Millbrook kept them off the 3 point line and prevented easy looks. After Spackenkill briefly took a 30-28 lead late in the 3rd, Millbrook scored the last 3 of the quarter, with a Claire Martell (Millbrook 2019) bucket giving them a 31-30 lead at the end of the 3rd that they'd never relinquish.

Simone Pelish had a fast start for Spackenkill, and the 7th grader chipped in with 10 points Tuesday.
 Fox started the 4th quarter on the right note, burying a deep three after her defender went underneath on an exchange, but Millbrook would be dealt a major blow on the ensuing possession as McKenna would be whistled for her 5th foul trying to jump a passing lane with 6:22 left. The state's top-ranked Class C team would dial in from there, though, never letting Spackenkill take advantage of that. Martell added a bucket, and then Fox buried another three to give Millbrook a 39-32 lead. After Herrera answered with 5 straight points, it was Martell followed by Maddy Harkenrider (Millbrook 2022) burying an open jumper to give them a 6 point cushion again. Spackenkill made it interesting one more time, cutting the deficit to 43-40 with 3:21 left, but it was Millbrook's youngest player helping to ice the game in the final moments. Natalie Fox (Millbrook 2024), Erin's younger sister, knocked down a three at the 2:26 mark. After getting a couple stops, it was 'little' Fox again, knocking down a pretty well-contested 18 footer to give them a 48-40 lead with 1:14 remaining.

Claire Martell made big plays for Millbrook in the 2nd half when needed, scoring all of her pts in the final 8+ minutes.
Erin Fox had a strong game, shaking off a slow start to finish with a game high 23 points in the victory. The early Marist commit showed off her improved range, knocking down 3 threes. Sam McKenna added 9 before fouling out. Natalie Fox (7 points) and Claire Martell (6 points) combined to score 11 in the game's final 8:35 to give much needed support for Millbrook. In defeat, Issy Herrera led Spackenkill with 14 points and hit 4 of their 7 threes. Simone Pelish, a 2024 with immense promise, added 10 points.

Franklin D. Roosevelt 52, Red Hook 41

The two teams played each other less than two weeks prior, with FDR storming back in the 2nd half on Red Hook's home court to take control of the game and pull away with a victory. Without one of Red Hook's most consistent contributors on the court Tuesday, they did well to walk into the locker room at halftime with a lead. However, the nightcap at SUNY Ulster eventually looked like a bit of a repeat of their initial matchup, with FDR using a 16-4 3rd quarter to seize control and secure a berth in the MHAL championship against Millbrook.

Deliah Smith chipped in with 9 pts for FDR, including back to back threes early in the 4th to give them a double digit lead.
FDR started off on the right foot, jumping out to an 8-2 lead in the first 4 minutes off the strength of a pair of Kelsea Demelis (FDR 2020) threes. Red Hook, thanks to the exploits of 2022 Morgan Tompkins, was able to settle in and keep the 1st quarter deficit at 6, with Tompkins scoring 7 of their 9 in the frame to keep it manageable. It was a different game in the 2nd, as even without longtime starting guard Chrissy Gildersleeve in action, Red Hook controlled tempo in the quarter and was able to take full advantage of their strengths. Tompkins buried a three to start the quarter, and Erin Hare (Red Hook 2019) added a three-point play to tie it up. After Jae'len Daubon (FDR 2020) momentarily stopped the bleeding for the Presidents, Red Hook came back on the attack, with Hare eventually giving them the lead. They extended it to 24-19 before FDR, starting with a Daubon trey, scored 5 straight to tie it up. That was short-lived though, as Red Hook threw the last punch of the half. Hare hit a pair of free throws, and then after getting a stop, Tompkins brought it up the right side of the floor, shook off a defender, and buried a deep right wing three before the buzzer to give Red Hook a 29-24 lead.

Morgan Tompkins turned some heads with a big game Tuesday, finishing with 18 pts and showing why she'll be a force in the 845 for years to come.
Red Hook extended their lead to 7 at the beginning of the half with a pair of Hare free throws, but from there, it was all FDR. They reeled off 10 straight points, with Kamryn Hammond (FDR 2019) scoring in the middle of the run to give them a 32-31 lead that they'd never give back. With it still a 1 point game late in the 3rd - almost a mirror image of their battle at Red Hook 11 days prior - FDR banged home two threes to end the quarter, both of them this time coming off the left hand of Demelis to give them a 40-33 lead. Red Hook would never get closer than 6 from there, which they did with a free throw early in the 4th. Deliah Smith (FDR 2020) responded by hitting back-to-back threes, giving them their first double digit lead at 46-34 with 4:51 left. 4 straight Red Hook points were answered by another Daubon three, and the last Red Hook breath of life - a tough Tompkins bucket plus a free throw, cutting their deficit to 49-41 at the 1:41 mark - was answered by the same from Hammond at the other end.

The FDR Presidents won with extreme balance. Jae'len Daubon, Kelsea Demelis, and Kamryn Hammond all finished with 12 points apiece, and Deliah Smith added 9 in the win. All of Demelis' points came from behind the arc, as she hit 4 of their 9 threes on the night. For Red Hook, Morgan Tompkins attracted plenty of FDR's defensive attention after a dynamic 1st half, where she scored 13 of her game high 18 points. Erin Hare added 12 points, with 8 coming in the 2nd quarter where they outscored FDR 20-9.

Kelsea Demelis was one of three with 12 pts for FDR, and her 2 treys late in the 3rd gave them much needed breathing room.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Section 10 Class D Quarterfinals: Higher Seeds All Advance

February 17, 2019

The 3rd Sunday in February has brought me to the same place each of the last three winters. Section X, covering a large portion of northern NY, has had the Ds in recent memory. Their run of success included 2015-2017 state champions in Heuvelton, a team whose best competition was often in their own sectional playoffs, and the Section 10 champion has advanced through regional play into at least the state semifinals every year in recent memory. The Class D quarterfinals all took place at the Roos House at SUNY Canton as nearly the only show in NY Sunday, so it was worth another trip. The higher seeds - Edwards-Knox, Heuvelton, Chateaugay, and Hammond - all took care of business, punching their tickets to what will be a competitive semifinal round.

(2) Heuvelton 53, (7) Hermon-DeKalb 44

In what amounted to be the most entertaining game of the day, second-seeded Heuvelton overcame a double digit deficit and finally put away a game Hermon-DeKalb squad in the final minutes.

Madison McCormick turned it up after a slow start, pumping in a quarterfinal-high 25 pts to push Heuvelton into the semis.
7th seeded Hermon, a team that by what I was able to gather - for whatever reason, some people on the H-D side were secretive about this - featured some JV call-ups, jumped on Heuvelton early behind the shooting prowess of one of those players. Hillary Jones (Hermon-DeKalb 2021) knocked down 3 threes in the opening quarter, and their opponents had a rocky start on the offensive end to compound their issues. By the time Jones hit her 3rd trey, Hermon led 14-3, which was the score at the end of the 1st and their largest lead. Madison McCormick (Heuvelton 2019; Roberts Wesleyan commit) started to make things happen in the 2nd, knocking down a three to start the quarter and contributing 7 points in a 12-0 run to briefly give Heuvelton the lead. But Jones had the answer with her 4th three, and a pair of Brooke Reed (H-D 2019) free throws gave them a 21-18 lead going into the locker room.

Hermon-DeKalb was able to extend their lead to 7 on a pair of occasions in the 3rd quarter, but Heuvelton quickly had the answer both times. The last time, coming off another Jones three, was quickly answered by a McCormick bucket - the same way the first one was answered. She then added a pair of free throws, and after Bella Doyle (Heuvelton 2022) scored, it was McCormick again to give Heuvelton a 31-30 lead - one they'd never give back. Another McCormick bucket gave her 11 in the quarter and gave Heuvelton a 34-32 lead going into the 4th. Hermon cut it to 1 early in the 4th, but a Rayna Cameron (Heuvelton 2020) bucket sparked a 6-0 spurt with Doyle & McCormick adding baskets. Reed (H-D) and Doyle (Heuvelton) traded points twice, the last of the flurry coming from Doyle to give Heuvelton a 46-39 lead with 1:29 left. After Jones hit her 6th & final three to cut Hermon's deficit to 4 with 1:12 left, Heuvelton broke the press and Doyle found McCormick for a layup, and a Heuvelton stop effectively iced the game.

Hillary Jones made her mark on Sunday's 2/7 quarterfinal, dropping a team high 18 points (6 treys) for Hermon-DeKalb.
Madison McCormick pumped in a game high 25 points, with 17 of them coming in the 2nd half. Bella Doyle, a 2022 that shows promise, contributed 8 of her 12 points in the 4th quarter. For Hermon-DeKalb, Hillary Jones scored 18 points and hit 6 of their 9 threes. Brooke Reed added 12 points in defeat. They'll move on to face Chateaugay in the semifinals, who was a 27-22 winner over Colton-Pierrepoint in the day's opener, the only game I missed.

(4) Hammond 71, (5) Harrisville 44

A back-and-forth start turned into a game that looked like anything but a 4/5 matchup, as Hammond dominated the middle quarters to run away with a victory over Harrisville.

Kelsey Bennett drove Hammond to a double-digit halftime lead, scoring 18 of her 21 points before intermission.
Both teams came out pressing, and both teams got burnt early. The first 4 minutes looked more like a layup drill than a sectional contest, as each team found itself getting easy ones before they settled back into the half-court. A Kelsey Bennett (Hammond 2020) three bumped their lead to 15-8 midway through the quarter, but Harrisville cut it back to 1 at 17-16 on a Hannah LaPlatney (Harrisville 2020) trey. After Bennett & Avery Kenyon (Hammond 2021) teamed up to score 5 straight points, a Torie Moore (Harrisville 2021) three - their 4th of the quarter - sent them into the huddle down 22-19. It didn't take long for Hammond to extend their lead, though, as it quickly approached danger time for a Harrisville squad already starting to lose some of its composure. Bennett reeled off 8 points in a 15-3 run to start the quarter - another three from LaPlatney the only production for Harrisville in that stretch. Bennett canned another trey, her 4th of the half, to give Hammond a 40-23 lead, and they went into the locker room up 41-27.

The first 4 minutes of the 2nd half were going to dictate how the rest of this game went, and Hammond made sure to dictate that. A quick 8-0 spurt, capped by Bennett's 5th & final three, ran their lead to 22. After Lydia Kerr (Harrisville 2019) scored to briefly stop the bleeding, the onslaught continued. Kenyon & Kylie Vaughan (Hammond 2020) teamed up to reel off 12 straight, 6 coming from each, to give them their largest lead at 61-29 late in the 3rd. From there, the Red Devils were able to coast to the finish line.

Lydia Kerr paced Harrisville with 12 points in Sunday's 4/5 quarterfinal matchup.
Avery Kenyon led all scorers with 23 points for Hammond, 15 coming in the 2nd half. Kelsey Bennett pumped in 18 of her 21 points in the 1st half, and she hit 5 threes on the night. Kylie Vaughan added 17 points in the win, making them a formidable trio on this Sunday evening. Lydia Kerr paced Harrisville in defeat with 12 points, and Torie Moore added 11.

(1) Edwards-Knox 63, (9) St. Regis Falls 30

The game that seemed like the sheer mismatch on the card quickly became just that, as an Edwards-Knox team currently ranked #2 in the latest NYSSWA Class D state polls flexed in the first few minutes and coasted to a quarterfinal win.

Koryn Rowe was one of three in double figures for E-K, finishing with 14 pts while running the show at the PG spot.
Edwards-Knox controlled things from the tip. Carly Frary (EK 2019) hit a three to open up the scoring, and St. Regis Falls was forced to call a timeout after falling behind 7-0 in the first two minutes. Another Frary trey pushed their lead to double digits, and Lucy Frary (EK 2021) added a pair of buckets to give them a 14-0 lead before St. Regis finally got on the board. The game went dead for several minutes from there, with EK going on a long drought deep into the 2nd quarter as the offense became stagnant against the St. Regis zone. The margin was 18-8 with under 3 minutes left in the half, but the insertion of Abby Hart (EK 2020) back into the game, who missed much of the first 16 minutes, helped spark a late run. They threw the press back on and reeled off 8 quick points. A Koryn Rowe (EK 2019) three gave her 8 points in the 2nd quarter, and a Hart bucket capped a 13-0 run as they led 31-8 at the break.

The 9th seed battled in the 2nd half, playing their opponents even for much of the 3rd quarter, but Edwards-Knox eventually gained more separation. A pair of Hart treys capped an 8-0 spurt to put them up 43-14, and her 3rd three of the quarter - a buzzer-beater from not far inside half-court - capped a frenetic stretch of scoring over the last two minutes, giving E-K a 49-19 lead after 3. After St. Regis Falls scored 9 of the first 11 points in the 4th, Edwards-Knox scored 12 of the game's last 14, eventually leading by as much as 34.

Skyelin Bradford paced 9th seeded St. Regis Falls with 11 points in Sunday's nightcap.
After playing limited minutes in the 1st half, Abby Hart reeled off 11 points in the 3rd quarter and led all scorers with 21 points in the win. Carly Frary added 15 points, and Koryn Rowe chipped in with 14. They hit 3 threes apiece, powering EK's total of 10 made threes. Skyelin Bradford paced St. Regis Falls with 11 points in defeat.


- Hermon-DeKalb may be a team that makes some noise over the next couple years in the North Country. They lose their point guard, Brooke Reed, but 2021s Hillary Jones & Brianna Grant - both apparently JV call-ups that are bona fide varsity starters - are good building blocks. Jones, in particular, went off Sunday. She has a relatively quick, high release with range well beyond the college line, and she banged home 6 threes on the day. But they simply ran out of gas against a Heuvelton squad that's a bit more battle-tested and in better shape. When Heuvelton let the dogs out on them, it steadily wore them down. Good experience for Hermon though, as it showed them that although there's work to do, they certainly can hang.

Avery Kenyon continues to be a difference maker for a Hammond squad reemerging as a contender.
- Kelsey Bennett & Avery Kenyon took turns putting their stamp on the game for Hammond. Early, it was a heavy dose of Kelsey. The 5'8" 2020 G was the best player on the court in the first 16 minutes, imposing her will at both ends as Hammond started to seize control. She shot the three with confidence and knocked down 4 of them in the 1st half, and she got out in transition and made things happen for herself or for teammates on several occasions. A couple times, it was creating for 5'10" 2021 Avery, who had a big 2nd half. She's a natural athlete that is tough to contain in the open court, particularly at the small school level. If yesterday was any indication, it looks like her jumper has improved some, which was the main knock against her. She hit a pair of threes and a couple more midrange Js, and the release looked much better. If it becomes consistent, that takes her game to the next level.

Bella Doyle, a 2022, has the tools to show promise for Heuvelton girls' hoops going forward.
- Madison McCormick tuning Section 10 teams up doesn't come to a surprise to anyone at this point, so I won't waste time talking about what we already know. However, they become a much tougher out if Bella Doyle consistently plays like she did in the 2nd half. At 5'9"ish, she has the ability to play at the wing or mix it up around the rim. She found herself getting to the rim throughout the game, but struggled finishing early. As the game went on, it looked like she stopped worrying about potential contact and went up stronger. She Euroed around a defender twice in transition and scored, and then she started to gain confidence and put it on the deck to get to the rim in the half-court. Her versatility allows her to be a good compliment for Madison. A full game like Sunday's 2nd half for her along with Madison doing her thing and others like Rayna Cameron making plays, and Heuvelton could still have plenty of ball left in them. From what I've been told, it looks like Bella will make the jump from local AAU to suit up for the Syracuse Royals this spring, something that will only benefit her.

Abby Hart, who had a game high 21 pts in Sunday's nightcap, could prove to be a prime D3 target in the 2020 class.

- In stretches, Edwards-Knox showed why they're deserving of the reputation as one of New York's premier Class D teams. They have the experience of playing at Hudson Valley, getting to the state semis last year before running into a Franklinville buzzsaw. They have the guard play in 2019 Koryn Rowe, a true PG, and 2020 Abby Hart, a dynamic, hard-nosed off-guard. Add Carly Frary, a knockdown shooter with some size that essentially plays as a stretch 4, and Lucy Frary as another guard, and they have depth of skilled players that most D teams can't match. Rowe is an underrated 2019 PG that could make a D3 program very happy, and I'll be saying the same thing about Abby - whose game I love - in a year. Their level of play Sunday night fluctuated as they pumped the brakes at times after gaining a big lead, but I saw what I needed to. The fun begins this week, as every game is a battle from here on out in Section 10 & beyond.