Carey Turner intercepted the pass. She pushed it upcourt to Barb Shea, who dribbled, looked up at the clock and smiled. Shea curled back toward midcourt, then threw the ball high.
As the last second ticked away, their teammates came running off the bench to celebrate — Shenendehowa won the Section II Class AA championship with a 36-29 victory over Bethlehem Saturday night at Hudson Valley Community College.
“It’s just a great feeling to finally win this,” Shea said. “Everything just came out — all the emotions. We were so excited. Just to celebrate with my teammates, it was amazing.”
Shenendehowa survived a wild third quarter that had eight lead changes and one tie. Only once did a team lead by more than one point, when Bethlehem took a 25-23 edge on Alex McCullough’s jumper above the foul line with 45 seconds remaining in the quarter. Turner responded with a three-pointer for a 26-25 Shen advantage.
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“It was ridiculous,” senior forward Meg Goodwin said. “Everything was so high pressure. It was one-and-done for each team. Everyone was boxing out, hard pressure the whole time. It was so hard to score.”
“I have never seen anything like that,” Turner said. “We’re two
familiar teams. We know each other very well. And we knew it was going to come down to the last two quarters. It was going to be an all-out war.”
The Eagles led, 29-26, early in the fourth quarter when Meg Olsen hit a pair of free throws with 6:48 remaining. But the Lady Plainsmen shut Bethlehem out the rest of the way en route to the title.
“We fought the whole game and it was really tough to stick with it, but we got some intensity and a last kick for the final quarter, and we really pushed through,” Shea said. “I’m really proud of everyone.”
Shea, named MVP, scored eight points with eight rebounds and four steals as Shenendehowa won its first sectional title since 2004. Turner scored 11 points with seven boards, five off the offensive glass, and was named to the all-tournament team.
The Lady Plainsmen (21-2), ranked No. 10 in the state, advance to the state regional championship to face No. 18 Corcoran of Syracuse, the Section III champ, Saturday at noon at Hudson Valley. That winner goes to the state Final Four.
The sixth-ranked Lady Eagles end their season at 21-3. McCullough led Bethlehem with 14 points, 12 in the first half, and had a game-high 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. McCullough and Olsen were named All-Tournament players. Christine Murphy had five steals.
Shea tied it at 29-29 on a fast-break bucket with 3:59 to go, stealing the ball to drive end-to-end. Bethlehem turned it over on its next three possessions, the last one leading to a Turner putback after a second offensive rebound with 2:13 to go, giving Shen a 31-29 edge.
The Eagles missed a jumper at the other end, and Shen responded when sophomore substitute Kayla Wheeler swished a 17-footer for a 33-29 lead.
“I think the clutch play of the game was when Wheeler hit that elbow jump shot,” Shen coach Ken Strube said. “As a youngster, she’s looking for the seniors a lot of times, and we reiterated with her, hey, you get that elbow jumper, take it. And she drilled that.”
“Kayla Wheeler, she came in and she stepped up,” senior forward Serita Holland said.
Holland hit one foul shot and Kim Woodward hit two to seal the Lady Plainsmen’s ninth sectional crown since 1988.
“Every year, it’s a different group of kids,” Strube said. “It’s exciting to see them do their thing.”
Bethlehem was seeded No. 2 among Suburban Council teams and beat previously undefeated Amsterdam, the state’s top-ranked team and the No. 1 Big 10 seed, in the semifinals to advance.
Shenendehowa was the top Suburban seed. The Lady Plainsmen last won the state regional title in 2004 and last won the state crown in 1999.
Bethlehem was seeking its first sectional title since 2003, when it also won the state regional title.
The Lady Eagles led, 10-5, after the first eight minutes before Shen took a 16-10 lead on a Woodward jumper with 1:55 to go before halftime. But McCullough hit two foul shots then scored on a turnaround jumper off a Shen turnover with 1:11 remaining to bring Bethlehem to within 16-14, setting up the nip-and-tuck third quarter.
“The third quarter, it was going up and down a little bit, but you try to start thinking about the strategy that you want to do and what Shen wants to do — they want to go up-and-down,” Bethlehem coach Mark Nealon said.
“Two good teams going at it; neither of us wanted to give up,” Shea said.
Shen outrebounded Bethlehem 28-24, and had 14 offensive boards to the Eagles’ seven. Bethlehem turned it over 25 times.
Olsen 2-2-6, Murphyt 1-0-2, Thompson 1-0-2, McCullough 5-4-14, Teal 2-1-5. Totals: 11-7-29.
Turner 4-1-11, Shea 3-1-8, Goodwin 2-2-6, Woodward 2-2-6, Holland 0-3-3, Wheeler 1-0-2. Totals: 12-9-36.
Bethlehem 10 4 11 4 — 29
Shenenehowa 5 11 10 10 — 36
Three-point goals: Turner 2, Shea.
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