Shenendehowa may have history on its side, but part of that history will be on the opposing bench in this evening’s Section II Class AA championship game.
Ken Strube will be taking his 16th team to a sectional final when the Plainsmen meet Shaker today at 5:15 at Hudson Valley Community College. Nine times his team has walked off the court with a Section II banner, including 1999, when a point guard named Emily Caschera helped the team win its fourth, and most recent, state title.
Caschera’s Blue Bison will be trying to deny the latest postseason success of her alma mater.
“The kids are so excited. This is huge. We’re very hungry for Shen,” said Caschera, who has the North Colonie team in a sectional final for the first time since 1986.
The Plainsmen won both Suburban Council matches this season, the last on a Meg Rogers basket in the closing seconds.
“The first game, you can throw away. It was the first game of the year,” Strube said of his team’s
47-35 win. “MacKenzie Rowland was coming off the bench, and her sister [Madison] was on the JV.
“They’ve totally rebuilt, redesigned and reinvented themselves.”
Shaker, the third seed out of the Suburban Council, knocked off crosstown rival Colonie, the top seed from the SC, 64-49, in the semifinals, and is one win from claiming its first sectional title since 1982.
“The resiliency of this team is incredible,” said Caschera, whose 17-4 club has won seven straight games. “Everybody is really happy with their role. Everybody is fighting hard.”
Shenendehowa’s biggest advantage may be in big game experience, as the Plainsmen play in their third straight sectional final. Seniors Allie Setter, Marissa Ray, Roz Alexander, Andrea Mangione and Kayla Wheeler have been around for all of that run. Setter, Ray and Mangione started in Shenendehowa’s 49-35 semifinal win over Catholic Central, along with sophomore Emily Weber and 11th-grader Rogers.
Strube points to the teams’ second meeting of the year as a turning point.
“The second half of that game probably was a turning point for them, because they made a nice comeback and took the lead briefly,” Strube said. “In a way for us, it was also steppingstone. It was the second game we were without Marissa, and we discovered how much we missed Marissa in the second half.”
“That stings. That game hurts, every time I mention it, you can see it in the kids’ faces,” Caschera said of the 49-47 homecourt loss.
Shaker combined the outside shooting of Christine Alley, Erica Houle and Adrianne Devine with the inside play of 10th-graders Rowland and Lauren Woods to beat Colonie.
“Erica Houle has a green light. Any three is a good three for her,” Caschera said. “She’s a great three-point shooter.”
“With the emergence of MacKenzie and Lauren as the premier big kids in the league, you can’t put all of your effort into stopping them on the perimeter,” Strube said.
Once-beaten and top-seeded Averill Park meets No. 2 seed 21-0 Holy Names in the Class A final at 1:45 that kicks off the championship triple-header at HVCC.
Adirondack League rivals Whitehall and Argyle meet for the Class D title at 3:30.
Categories: High School Sports