The obligatory team picture for regional semifinalists wasn’t quite what the Mighty Warriors hoped for. False smiles couldn’t hide the tears as Mohonasen posed for its final team snapshots of the season.
Although Mohonasen’s girls’ basketball team accomplished much more than the program could have hoped for by reaching its first New York State Public High School Athletic Association final four, the Mighty Warriors ran into a buzzsaw in Friday’s state semifinals.
Section I’s Albertus Magnus, the No. 1-ranked Class A team in the state, gradually wore down the Warriors with plenty of free throws, superior size and 26 points from St. Bonaventure-bound senior guard Alaina Walker en route to a 68-56 victory at Hudson Valley Community College.
Albertus Magnus, 25-2, advances to play Newark in the state championship game. Mohonasen, which saw its 17-game winning streak end, fell to 22-3.
“We didn’t play as well as we could have. Our shots just didn’t drop,” said a teary-eyed Nicole Adach, one of two seniors who played their final game for the Mighty Warriors. “When the season first began, all I wanted to be was .500, at least. But then I saw our team, and I realized how good we are and how good we could be.
“We weren’t satisfied with going to our first final four. We proved that we belonged here.
“We didn’t make our free throws today, and we could have played much better than we did,” added Adach, the Mighty Warriors’ leading scorer who is headed for St. Michael’s next season. “But Albertus Magnus is a great team. She [Walker] took over in the second game. We [Adach and Michelle Aviza] played against her in AAU basketball over the summer, so we knew how good a player she is.
“Our shots just weren’t falling today. Usually, we make a lot more shots than we did today. But we got so much farther than we ever thought we could. We’re not ashamed at all. We never expected to get this far.”
Albertus Magnus appeared ready to pull away at several times in the game, only to see the stubborn Mighty Warriors fight back, time and time again.
Felicia Dacruz scored two quick baskets, including one that led to a three-point play, and then junior forward Kerry Higgins took over with nine straight points to help the Lady Falcons jump out to a 14-6 lead.
But Mohonasen rallied and closed the quarter with an 11-3 run to finish off the opening period tied, 17-17.
Albertus Magnus began to get rolling early in the second quarter. Walker, scoreless in the first eight minutes, connected on a three-point play, and then the Lady Falcons pulled away with a 12-2 run to build a 32-19 cushion with 3:13 left in the first half. Walker’s steal and fast-break layup ended the run.
But back-to-back treys by Ashley Tallman and Aviza got the Mighty Warriors back into the game.
Mohonasen scored the final four points of the second quarter to pull within five, 34-29, at intermission.
Walker found the range in the third quarter, scoring eight points as Albertus Magnus took a 48-37 advantage heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Falcons’ constant work in the paint created foul trouble for the Mighty Warriors, and the result was plenty of free throws in the final quarter for Albertus Magnus, which sank 16 of 24 shots in that period alone.
“They are good, but we were in foul trouble from about two minutes into the game,” said Mohonasen coach Paul Brosious. “Credit them. They are quick, fast and tough to guard. We also missed some shots we usually don’t miss.
“I feel badly for our two seniors. They were the heart of this program. The other kids fed off them this year. We never had a practice where Nicole or Michelle took off.”
Like Adach, Brosious said he didn’t really think this team was going to be this good until later in the season.
“I thought we had the capability of being a special team, but I had no idea we could go to the state semifinals,” he said. “But as the season went on, we thought we could do something.”
Power 1-0-3, Spicer 1-2-4, Walker 7-12-26, Dazruz 2-4-8, Higgins 6-0-13, Miller 0-1-1, Richards 2-7-11. Totals: 19-26-68.
Baker 0-1-1, McClain 3-0-8, Aviza 2-3-9, Lashin 0-1-1, Adach 6-7-20, Tallman 5-1-15. Totals: 16-13-56.
Albertus Magnus 17 17 14 20 – 68
Mohonasen 17 12 8 19 – 56
Three-point goals/; Maura, Higgins, McClain 2, Aviza 2, Adach, Tallman 4.
In the Class AA semifinals, Bethlehem built a 23-15 halftime lead and held off Kingston, 43-39. The Eagles (20-6) meet Copaigue tonight at 8:45 for the title after Copaigue ousted Canandaigua 43-34, in the other semifinal. Bethlehem, which has won 11 games in a row, had a trio of double-figure scorers in Taylor Teal (13), Megan Olsen (10) and Alex McCullough (10). Rachel Coffey had 15 for Kingston, which finished 23-2.
Castro 2-5-9, Coffey 6-2-15, Greenway 1-3-5, Kell 1-2-4, Parker 2-2-6. Totals: 12-14-39.
Dole 2-0-5, Gadomski 0-1-1, McCullough 4-2-10, McKee 1-0-2, Olsen 2-5-10, Oskam 0-2-2, Teal 6-0-13. Totals: 15-10-43.
Kingston 8 7 12 12 — 39
Bethlehem 12 11 4 16 — 43
Three-point goals: Coffey, Dole, Olsen, Teal.
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Categories: High School Sports