Brockport 45, Canandaigua 38
Wednesday's nightcap took me to familiar territory, as it was the second time in the pandemic-shortened winter campaign that I took the far baseline at Canandaigua Academy. This contest, a Section V Class A semifinal, pitted the hosts against a Brockport squad that they narrowly defeated twice in the regular season. Led by a strong individual performance offensively & disciplined team performance defensively, the visitors took an early lead and held on to not only prevent a season sweep, but take the one that matters most.
|Ella Fadale turned it up from the jump & led all scorers with 21 points in Brockport's win.|
It didn't take long for Brockport to create some separation. Though the game remained close from end to end, the game's only two lead changes were in the first four minutes. Canandaigua held a 4-3 edge after a Kate Stocker (Canandaigua 2021) drive & finish, but they were held scoreless for around five minutes after as Brockport made a 9-0 push including triples from Ella Fadale (Brockport 2022) and Ava Velletri (Brockport 2023). Another Fadale bucket just before the end of the 1st quarter gave Brockport a 14-6 edge. Canandaigua started the 2nd quarter strong, which turned out to be a trend throughout the game. Back-to-back treys from Kyleigh Chapman (Canandaigua 2024) and Macy Bacon (Canandaigua 2024) in the first 45 seconds of the quarter cut their deficit to 14-12, but Fadale answered with five straight for Brockport. After a short range pull-up jumper from Mya Herman (Canandaigua 2023), the Braves were held scoreless for the last 4:45 of the half as Brockport extended their halftime edge to 24-14, which tied their largest lead of the night.
The start of the 3rd quarter was nearly a mirror of the previous stanza, as a Chapman and-one & Bacon bucket in the first 48 seconds got Canandaigua going. They eventually trimmed the deficit back to three at the 5:07 mark with a pair of Stocker free throws, but Brockport responded again by producing back-to-back scoring plays in response to each Canandaigua score for the rest of the quarter. A pair of Gisela Allen (Brockport 2021) midrange Js got them back on the right track, and they stretched the margin back to 10 on a Fadale bucket at the 2:21 mark & again on a Fadale free throw to end the 3rd at 40-30.
The final Canandaigua push came in a low-scoring 4th quarter that saw Brockport connect on only one field goal attempt. That shot from Emma Laureano (Brockport 2021) gave them a 42-32 lead with 6:42 left. The margin was nine midway through the 4th before Canandaigua got buckets from Herman and Kayla Taylor (Canandaigua 2024), the latter cutting it to 43-38 with 2:04 left. However, Brockport would get stops from there and tack on a couple free throws in the waning moments to ice the victory and a berth in the Section V Class A final.
Ella Fadale had a big 1st half for Brockport and led all scorers with 21 points in the victory. Ava Velletri added 9 for Brockport, who got all of their offensive production from their starting five. Kyleigh Chapman paced a balanced Canandaigua offense with 9 points and Abbey Herod (Canandaigua 2022) added 8.
|Kyleigh Chapman paced a balanced Canandaigua group with 9 points.|
- Between it being a sectional semifinal game, the familiarity between opponents, the game primarily being played in the half-court, and both teams having to work to get good shots, this was one of those games where it felt like every bucket was a big one. Even the 3rd quarter tug-of-war felt big in the moment. Whether those games end up 45-38 or 75-68, they're always fun to watch. Great battle, just what you'd hope for in a sectional semifinal.
- I've seen Ella Fadale before on the AAU circuit, but this was my first time seeing her & the Brockport squad at the scholastic ranks. Impressive showing for the 2022 PG. Good release on the jumper with deep range, and when she was given airspace to get it off in the 1st half, she knocked it down more often than not, whether it was off the catch or off the bounce. When she got crowded, she showed on multiple occasions that she could put it on the deck, make a move, and get into the paint vs. pretty athletic Canandaigua guards. In the 2nd half when her defender was a bit more heavily focused on her, she played within herself, didn't force things, made the extra pass & trusted teammates. Strong performance and definitely a 2022 to keep tabs on out of Section V.
|Ava Velletri produced contributions at both ends and chipped in with 9 points in Brockport's victory.|
- Canandaigua is really young... they'll be back. Not only are they returning most of their minutes and offensive production, the majority of them are actually 2023s & 2024s. How good will they be? To an extent, I think that's up to them. The Braves faithful may never let me back in the gym because out of their 11-2 season, the two games I attended were their two losses, but I learned more out of those two games than I ever could have from their victories. Athletically, they have the pieces to be a special team going forward. An athletic scoring guard in Mya Herman (2023), a big wing that can shoot it in Kyleigh Chapman (2024), a stretch 4 type with length & face-up ability in Macy Bacon (2024), a true big that attacks the glass at both ends & has a high ceiling in Kayla Taylor (2024), other good athletes that fill needed roles like Abbey Herod (2022), and even more youth - six 2024s in all. What the two opponents in their losses had in common - Fairport & Brockport, at least this time - was that they matched up defensively and forced Canandaigua to execute & make shots in the half-court. Producing in the half-court requires a different skill set - creating space off the dribble, playing in limited space, shooting ability & with a quicker release because of shorter closeout distances (important!), effectively reading & reacting, again in more condensed space, etc. Winning games deep in sectionals & beyond often comes down to who can make plays in a half-court setting. For a team this young to even get to a sectional semifinal in large-school basketball is an impressive & noteworthy feat. There's no question in my mind that they'll be back for years to come, but if they individually & collectively turn that part of the game up a notch, the sky's the limit.
- A major thank you goes out to Canandaigua athletic administration & Section V for the approval & allowing media (and myself) in the gym to cover Wednesday's game!