This clinching thing is proving to be rather difficult for the Schenectady girls’ basketball team.
Kaitlyn Smith swished a pair of baseline jumpers late in the fourth quarter, the junior guard’s second coming with 12 seconds left, as Amsterdam edged the Big 10 leaders, 53-52, in another close matchup between the longtime rivals Tuesday night at the Pat Riley Sports Center.
Schenectady outlasted Amsterdam two weeks ago in an overtime thriller, 93-92, as part of its seven-game winning streak that was halted in Friday’s 51-48 setback against Bishop Maginn.
“KC Dwyer passed it to me, and I thought they were going to deflect it. Schenectady was very aggressive on defense,” Smith said of her game-winning 15-footer. “When I got the ball, I shot it and made it. My thought was, we’ve come so far, I can’t let this team down now.”
Antonia Williams’ last-second shot didn’t go down, and Schenectady (8-2, 15-3) missed out on clinching at least a share of its first regular-season league championship.
“Amsterdam does not give up until the final buzzer,” Schenectady coach Carol Lupo said of the two-time defending Big 10 champs. “They played us tough again. They’re always tough.”
Schenectady has games remaining at Albany, a team it has already beaten three times, and at home against Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, a team it topped by 45 points early last month. The best the Lady Patriots have ever done in the league is a tie for second in 1999.
“We could have clinched the league, but this one is over. Now our focus is on Albany,” said Schenectady senior guard Sheila Dixon, who finished with 13 points and eight assists. “We’ve got them Tuesday, and we’re going to bring it.”
Schenectady did so spanning the third and fourth quarters Tuesday night, and put together a 17-7 run to go up, 50-46, before Smith sandwiched her jump shots around a three-point hoop by teammate Allie Zabo and Dixon’s putback basket, that coming with 47 seconds to play.
“They got a lot of points out of girls we didn’t expect,” said Dixon. “We were focusing a lot of our attention on Michaela [Ottati], Hilary [Rouse] and Allie. They had a lot of girls step up.”
Zabo and Ottati led the Lady Rams (5-3, 8-8) with 12 and 10 points, respectively, while Dwyer and Rouse both netted eight points, and Smith finished with seven.
Freshman Megan Smith added six points, including a reverse layup that gave the Rams a 39-32 advantage late in the third quarter.
“This was a huge game for us and for them,” said Kaitlyn Smith. “We went OT at our house, and we wanted to get them here. We had to win this. It was a good team effort.”
“In our last three games we played three of the top three teams in the state, and even though we got it handed to us, the kids fought until the end,” said Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler. “I knew tonight would be no different. I expected them to be fighting in the end.”
A steal and a layup by Carissa Cromwell capped Schenectady’s second-half spurt and gave the hosts their 50-46 lead before Smith nailed the first of her two big baskets with 1:28 remaining.
“She [Smith] made some big shots down the stretch and played good defense down the stretch,” Duemler said. “She didn’t start for us, but she came off the bench with a good mind set and really contributed to the win.”
A steal by Skippy Ripepi led to Zabo’s three-point basket and a 51-50 Amsterdam lead before Dixon answered with her putback basket following a Williams miss down low. The Brown University-bound standout was fouled on the play, yet missed her free throw, one of 10 misses from the line for Schenectady.
“We missed some crucial putbacks and we missed 10 foul shots. Some of them were the front end of one-and-ones, and you can’t do that in a close game,” said Lupo. “If you do that in a close game, you’re going to lose.”
Williams paced Schenectady with 18 points, seven coming in the 17-7 run, with the senior forward also collecting seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Rouse, a junior forward, added nine rebounds, five steals and three steals for the Rams.
“This is the second great game between Amsterdam and Schenectady,” Duemler said. “At times I thought both teams played great basketball. It was anyone’s game down the stretch.”
It was a physical and emotional game, with the teams combining for 36 fouls and 49 turnovers.
Dwyer 3-0-8, Ottati 3-4-10, Rouse 3-2-8, Seymour 1-0-2, K. Smith 3-0-7, M. Smith 3-0-6, Zabo 4-1-12. Totals: 20-7-53.
Butler 2-0-4, Colafemina 2-0-4, Cromwell 3-0-6, Dixon 5-2-13, LaFond 1-0-2, McLean 2-0-4, Tanner 0-1-1, Williams 9-0-18. Totals: 24-3-52.
Amsterdam 8 20 13 12 — 53
Schenectady 15 14 9 14 — 52
Three-point goals: Dwyer 2, K. Smith, Zabo 3, Dixon.
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Categories: High School Sports