Copaigue found holes in Bethlehem’s 2-3 zone defense that no team had before.
The Eagles from Long Island dominated the first half, slicing through Bethlehem’s defense and shooting over it, and surged late after a Bethlehem comeback to post a 74-58 victory in Saturday night’s state Class AA championship game at Hudson Valley Community College.
The near wire-to-wire victory gave Copaigue (22-4) its second state crown, with the first also coming at Bethlehem’s expense in 2003.
“They were setting screens up top and coming off them,” Bethlehem senior guard Megan Olsen said of Copaigue’s offensive success. “It didn’t help that they didn’t miss.”
Class AA most valuable player Teasia Walker and all-tournament pick Gabrielle Gibson, a pair of senior guards, scored 28 points apiece for Copaigue. Olsen and Alex McCullough, who both made the all-star team, netted 21 points each. McCullough, a senior forward, also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
“It’s tough right now after a loss, but we had a great year,” said Olsen, the Suburban Council MVP who cracked the career 1,000-point barrier Friday. “We had a lot of unity. We came together, and we accomplished so much.”
Copaigue got it done Saturday, though, as Gibson scored eight points in the first quarter, and Walker delivered 12 in the second frame to help the Eagles race to a 38-20 advantage against a Bethlehem group that had won 11 straight games since installing its zone.
Bethlehem’s shutdown efforts included Friday’s 43-39 win over Kingston, a 50-40 regional triumph over Cicero-North Syracuse, and a 46-42 victory over Shenendehowa in the Section II final.
“We play a 2-3 zone ourselves, so we go against it every day,” said Copaigue coach Carole Olsen. “The girls understand how to attack it.”
“We came out shooting, and the shots were falling,” said Walker, who will continue her career at South Carolina.
Copaigue (22-4) broke away from a 14-9 lead with a 24-11 second-quarter outburst which included a 6-0 starting run and a 10-0 finishing spurt. Walker scored the first six points of the quarter on two jumpers and a layup after a steal, and capped the 10-0 spurt with a pair from the line.
Bethlehem crept within 54-44 after three, and got as close as six in the fourth quarter, 56-50, on a layup by Tracey Koch with 6:12 left. Copaigue answered with a 13-3 charge which included a layup, two foul shots and a three-point play by Gibson, and a two free throws and a pair of jumpers by Walker.
“Every time we made a run, they had an answer,” Megan Olsen said. “No. 3 [Walker] and No. 13 [Gibson] were really hard to defend.”
Bethlehem closed its semifinal game with an 11-1 run, with Olsen and McCullough accounting for all of the points.
“We knew they were resilient. They came back in their last game,” said Walker, who had eight rebounds, five assists and four of her team’s 10 steals. “We didn’t want to let that happen to us.”
Copaigue advances to the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions and will meet the Catholic High School Athletic Association rep Saturday in a 2 p.m. semifinal at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Olsen 6-7-21, McCullough 8-4-21, Oskam 1-2-4, Dole 0-2-2, McKee 1-0-2, Koch 2-0-4, Gadomski 1-0-2, Landrigan 1-0-2. Totals: 20-15-58.
I. Walker 11-6-28, Gibson 9-7-28, Williams 4-3-11, R. Walker 1-0-2, Fordyce 0-2-2, Smith 1-1-3. Totals: 26-19-74.
Bethlehem 9 11 24 14 — 58
Copaigue 14 24 16 20 — 74
Three-point goals: Olsen 2, McCullough, Gibson 3.
Carlee Chapko scored 17 points, Samantha Anderson netted 11, and Hoosic Valley held its fifth straight opponent under 30 points in a 43-23 state Class C semifinal win over Stony Brook (Section XI, 18-5).
Hoosic Valley (26-1) raced to a 15-2 first-quarter lead, and was up at the half, 24-7.
Hoosic Valley will meet Nazareth (Section V, 22-5) in today’s 1:45 championship game, with Nazareth posting a 62-40 semifinal win over Greene (Section IV, 23-2). Hoosic Valley lost in the 2008 state Class B title game, and bowed out in the 2007 state Class C semifinals.
Angove 1-0-2, Burke 3-0-7, A. Spiliotis 0-0-0, D. Spiliotis 4-3-12, Winston 0-2-2. Totals: 8-5-23.
Anderson 4-3-11, Chapko 5-3-17, Davidson 0-1-1, Houston 3-0-7, Moore 2-0-5, Sullivan 0-2-2. Totals: 14-9-43.
Stony Brook 2 5 11 5 — 23
Hoosic Valley 15 9 14 5 — 43
Three-point goals: Burke, D. Spiliotis, Chapko 4, Houston, Moore.
GLENS FALLS —In the Class C championship game at the Glens Falls Civic Center, Avon of Section V held off Maple Hill, 61-55.
Avon (27-1) was led by John Housel with 13 points and 125 rebounds. Tournament MVP Dan Banach and Garrett Kesel added 12 points apiece for Avon, which was 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.
Avon took a 12-10 first-quarter lead and build on its advantage over the next two periods (31-22 and 47-37). The Wildcats outscored Avon, 18-14, in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough.
Trent Tibbits scored 16 points, and Jamie Schultz chipped in with 10 for 26-2 Maple Hill.
Prinzo 3-2-8, Despart 2-2-6, Tibbitts 6-2-16, Schultz 4-2-10, Donnelly 3-0-6, Briggs 1-1-4, Danaher 1-3-5. Totals: 20-53 12-22 55.
Banach 3-6-12, Kesel 4-1-12, Barrett 1-0-3, Passarell 0-3-3, Upright 2-0-4, Phillips 3-2-9, McBride 1-1-5, Housel 6-1-13. Totals: 21-51 14-20 61.
Maple Hill 10 12 15 18 — 55
Avon 12 19 16 14 — 61
Three-point goals: Tibbitts 2, Briggs, Kesel 3, Barrett, Philliips.
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