Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A Tale Of Two Halves: Warriors Flip The Script To Slay Bison

March 8, 2021

Averill Park 57, Shaker 46

My pregame tweet to Coach Organ's @APLADYWARRIORS Twitter account was said jokingly, but there was a hint of truth behind it - sick of me yet? After not seeing perennial power Averill Park for the first three weeks of the condensed season, a trip to start the week became my 3rd time watching AP in eight days & my 2nd consecutive Monday in the Warrior gym. The first two games - one win & one loss for them - were not close. This contest brought the dramatic feel. In a Suburban Council league playoff quarterfinal vs. a Shaker squad that just defeated them two days prior, the hosts overcame a double digit deficit with a dominant 2nd half performance en route to a semifinal berth.

Anna Jankovic made it happen for AP & had 14 of her game high 20 in the 2nd half.

A comeback doesn't start without a deficit, and Shaker gave them a tough one to start with. The visiting Blue Bison were the aggressors from the jump, using a spirited defensive effort & a balanced start on the offensive end to jump to an early lead. They scored the first five points, and after Anna Jankovic (Averill Park 2021, D'Youville signee) finally got AP on the board at the 4:27 mark of the 1st, Shaker got back-to-back buckets from Maddisyn Mahoney (Shaker 2021, Fairleigh Dickinson signee) to spring an 8-0 run. A Solé Carrington (Shaker 2021) drive & score eventually put Shaker up 13-2 late in the 1st. Averill Park momentarily rebounded in the final minute of the quarter, as they scored six of the last eight - including four at the free throw line - to cut the deficit to 15-8. The 2nd quarter mirrored the 1st in ways, as Shaker reestablished a sense of control. A 6-0 spurt in the middle of the frame, including two post buckets from Emily Satterday (Shaker 2022), gave the Bison their largest lead at 25-12. However, foul trouble started to set in around this time. Carrington picked up her 3rd foul with 5:05 left in the half, and Kaelah Carter (Shaker 2022) picked up her 3rd at the 1:54 mark. Mahoney, who picked up two 1st quarter fouls, didn't play in the 2nd. The Warriors would trim the deficit at the free throw line once again, shooting 5/6 in the last 1:54 of the half to  make the halftime score 27-17 in favor of Shaker.

All of the energy that Shaker played with in the 1st half made its way over to Averill Park after halftime. After Mahoney scored on Shaker's opening possession, Julia Gelder (Averill Park 2021) hit a three in response, and the level of play seemed to lift. A 6-0 AP spurt, four from Amelia Wood (Averill Park 2022), cut the margin to 33-28. Wood had to sit after picking up her 4th foul not long after at the 4:02 mark, but Shaker was dealt a major blow as well as Carrington picked up her 4th with 3:49 left in the 3rd & her 5th while a sub was at the table for her. Carter picked up her 4th less than a minute after Carrington fouled out, and even with Wood on the bench for AP, that helped set the stage for a big Warrior push. It started with a Taylor Holohan (Averill Park 2024) free throw, then followed with a Jankovic bucket. Holohan added a drive & layup of her own, drawing Mahoney's 4th foul in the process, then Holohan added two free throws after being fouled again. Jankovic scored just before the 3rd quarter buzzer to complete a 10-1 run and give AP their first lead at 40-39.

Shaker briefly regained the lead to start the 4th on a Satterday basket, but they'd be held without another point for the next 4+ minutes as Averill Park made another big push to open it up. The Warriors took back the lead on a Wood bucket with 6:12 left. Jankovic scored, Wood canned a three, Holohan scored, another bucket from Wood, and Mahoney was tagged for her 5th foul in the process, with the 11-0 run stretched the lead to 51-41. A big pull-up jumper from Jankovic extended their lead to 53-42 with 1:34 left, essentially putting the comeback victory on ice.

Anna Jankovic reeled off a game high 20 points for Averill Park, with 14 of them coming in the 2nd half. Amelia Wood had 13 of her 16 points after intermission, and Taylor Holohan had 7 in the 3rd quarter on the way to her 11 point total. For Shaker, Emily Satterday was the lone player in double figures with 12. They had five others score between 5-7 points.

Emily Satterday had a big night off the bench for Shaker, finishing with a team high 12 points.


- If there was ever a 'tale of two halves' game, this was it. The only things that they had in common was the players on the court & colors of the jerseys. The energy was completely flipped. Shaker dominated the 1st half with a spirited overall effort, and they had the most energetic bench I had seen/heard all season for 16 minutes. Then Averill Park dominated the 2nd half, and they had the most energetic bench. I don't know what Coach Organ said in the halftime huddle, but I know it ended with something along the lines of "0-0". The team took that to hurt, as they effectively hit the reset button on a rough 1st half.

- I thought the success of both offenses Monday revolved around getting paint touches against their opponent's (mainly) zone defenses. Shaker had a lot of success getting paint touches in the 1st half, generally off dribble penetration (from Carrington, KJ Gordon, or Carter) or low post touches (Mahoney or Satterday). It's not like they got away from it in the 2nd half, Averill Park just did a better job defensively - and when Shaker got in foul trouble & had to go deeper in their bench, the bench personnel doesn't have a 'dribble penetration against the zone' sort of skill set. Averill Park had trouble getting anything going against Shaker's 2-3 zone in the 1st half. In the 2nd half, they were much more successful getting their paint touches by running the offense through the high post. Amelia Wood got plenty of high post touches, as did Taylor Holohan, especially when Wood was on the bench with foul trouble. Opportunities opened up once they got it in the high post. They were able to either use their quickness to drive on the middle of Shaker's zone & make something happen, or they made the zone collapse & kick into either a shot or forcing the D into a scramble situation.

Amelia Wood fought through foul trouble & had 13 of her 16 in the 2nd half in AP's victory.

- I usually try to avoid saying foul trouble makes a big difference in games, but to say it didn't heavily impact Shaker is to say I didn't pay attention to the game. They battled regardless and got some good minutes out of their bench, especially Emily Satterday who gave them everything they could've ever asked for, but 3 starters fouling out is tough to overcome. It didn't impact one of them as much, as Kaelah Carter fouled out in the game's final seconds and didn't really have to sit a ton with the foul trouble (last 2 minutes of the half, last 2:30 of the 3rd quarter). It was a major part of the game for Carrington & Mahoney, both seniors and four year varsity players. I didn't count minutes of course, but I'd be willing to bet Maddi played less than 16 minutes & Solé was probably around the 16 minute mark as well. They had to rock without Solé for the last 11:19 and Maddi for the final 4:45. Mix that with trying to fend off a comeback attempt on the road against a quality opponent... tough to do, to say the least.

- Want to be a winning team? Get you an Anna Jankovic. Averill Park had theirs for the last few years, and D'Youville - a program in the adjustment period after transitioning to the Division II level - is better for having theirs going forward. She just gets it done. Defends at a high level, mixes it up around the rim & rebounds well for a guard, runs the floor hard & turns defense into transition offense, hits big shots, hits free throws when she gets there, and makes winning plays. In this game, she scored 20 without having to have plays called specifically for her - everything within the flow of the game. When someone asks me what she does well, they get my favorite answer to give - she just wins. Scholastic ball with Averill Park, club ball with NY Havoc, all the way to my one-day events where I don't keep score (until I watch the game film, when I keep score out of curiosity)... her teams have always played against legitimate competition, and they usually win. That's not a coincidence.

- Another thank you to Averill Park AD Mark Bubniak and all administration for allowing media (and myself) in the gym to see this game play out!

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