In five years of varsity basketball, Kelly Murphy has never won a Colonial Council basketball title with Mechanicville.
But Murphy and her Red Raider teammates took a step in that direction with a 45-42 victory over Cohoes Tuesday night.
“I think we came in second once,” Murphy said. “This would be a great accomplishment if we could finish on top of the chart.”
Both teams entered the game tied at 8-1 in the Colonial, and both came in riding nine-game winning streaks. Only Mechanicville (12-1 overall) extended that to 10.
It wasn’t pretty. Both teams shot poorly throughout the game. The Red Raiders shot 6-for-36 in the first half en route to a 13-12 lead. The Tigers shot only slightly better over the first 16 minutes at 4-for-22, but committed 18 turnovers, 10 in the first quarter.
“We came out anxious, so our shots were off,” Murphy said. “We were rushing our offense. After halftime, we settled down and our shots started to fall.”
“I think both teams played pretty good defense,” Mechanicville coach Bob Murphy said. “Good defense makes bad offense. And we are outside shooting teams, and when it ain’t going, you really look bad.”
“The bottom line is, in the first half, nothing was going in,” Cohoes coach Dan Hytko said.
Murphy led the Red Raiders with 15 points and Lindsey McKeever, who ditched her trademark red headband in the second quarter, scored 13.
Sharp-shooter Courtney Galuski, who hit a Section II record 15 three-pointers in a game one week ago, scored 13 points to lead the Tigers (11-3 overall).
Mechanicville pulled away in the final six minutes of the game. Cohoes led, 32-30, with 5:56 remaining on the second of Galuski’s three three-pointers of the final quarter.
But Mechanicville went on an 11-3 run, highlighted by McKeever’s five points and a back-door layup by Shannon McBride, who cut in behind the defense and scored off a pass from Andrea Mastropietro. Two free throws by McKeever capped the run and gave Mechanicville a 41-35 lead with 2:01 to go.
Galuski swished a three-pointer to cut it to 41-38 with 1:34 to go, but Murphy hit three free throws and McKeever hit one to hang on for the win.
“They just did a little better job at the end making those jumpers,” Hytko said. “We had a couple of good looks at the end, but they just didn’t go. What do you do? We live and die by the three, everybody knows it. I’m not shying away from it. If we had to play tomorrow, we’d shoot the threes again.”
Cohoes took a two-point lead, 21-19, with 2:05 to go in the third quarter on a one-handed floater off the glass by Kali Maloney.
But the Red Raiders came back to hit three three-pointers on its next four possessions.
McKeever took a pass from Nicole Manupella and sank a three from the left, pumping her fist while hopping to the right, for a 22-21 lead.
McKeever returned the favor by sending a pass from the corner to Manupella, who nailed a three for a 25-21 advantage.
After Maloney cut it to 25-23 on a hook shot with 21 seconds to go in the quarter, McBride sank a three with nine seconds to go, putting Mechanicville up, 28-23, for the Red Raiders’ largest lead to that point.
“I never like to slow it down,” Bob Murphy said. “I like the fast pace. They do come around. You just hope it doesn’t last as long as it lasted tonight.”
Cohoes took a two-point lead, 15-13, early in the third quarter and, after grabbing its seventh offensive rebound in the first three minutes, could have gone up by more. But the Tigers lost the ball out of bounds, and Murphy nailed a three-pointer from the right corner off a pass from McKeever for a 16-15 lead.
Galuski 4-1-13, Maloney 5-0-10, Keeler 3-1-7, Rivage 1-2-4, Butler 2-2-6, Dearstyne 0-2-2. Totals 15-8-42.
McKeever 4-3-13, Mastropietro 0-0-0, Baker 2-1-5, McBride 2-0-5, Murphy 5-3-15, Daley 1-0-2, Manupella 1-2-5. Totals: 15-9-45.
Cohoes 9 3 11 21 — 42
Mechanicville 9 4 15 17 — 45
Three-points goals: Galuski 4, McKeever 2, McBride, Murphy 2, Manupella.
More from The Daily Gazette: