SARATOGA SPRINGS — After running away from Guilderland in a girls’ basketball game last week, Saratoga Springs needed a late sprint to get past the Dutch in a playoff rematch Monday night.
Tasha Chudy anchored the Blue Streaks offense down the stretch, and Abby Ray filled a key defensive role in a 51-49 win to begin the Suburban Council tournament.
“Guilderland brought it tonight,” Saratoga Springs coach Robin Chudy said. “We found it in the second half. Credit the kids for not giving up.”
Saratoga Springs (No. 3 seed, 8-2) used big efforts in the first and third quarters to beat Guilderland (No. 6, 4-5) last Wednesday 80-63, while the second encounter saw the Blue Streaks do their best work late in keeping their season alive.
Saratoga strung together the tournament quarterfinal game’s final eight points, with Tasha Chudy netting six of them as part of a 21-point effort, and Kathryn Cleason dropping in two free throws to push her team ahead for good.
“We called a late timeout and got it together,” Tasha Chudy said. “We were all working as a team when we flipped the game around.”
Ray’s strong second-half defensive performance against Guilderland star Valencia Fontenelle-Posson was critical to the win. The Siena College-bound Fontenelle-Posson, who owns every significant scoring record for the Dutch, managed five second-half points and only a free throw in the final quarter after netting 22 points in the opening half.
Fontenelle-Posson piled up 15 of her team’s 18 second-quarter points and also had an assist in that quarter.
“Her catch and shoot is crazy,” Ray said of Fontenelle-Posson, who poured in 37 points in last week’s matchup with Saratoga. “After she scored 20-something in the first half, I had to deny her.”
While Guilderland got a combined five 3-pointers from Bella Gitto and Alexis Martin in the second half, it could have used just a little more punch.
“Abby really picked up her game for us,” Tasha Chudy, an emerging sophomore standout, said of the senior. “She is a great teammate. She makes great passes. She rebounds. She does things that aren’t flashy. She does the dirty work, and it’s great.”
Guilderland appeared to be in a great position for an upset with just over two minutes left when Gitto sank a 3 for a 49-43 Dutch lead.
“Our energy wasn’t what it usually is,” Tasha Chudy said. “At the end we showed the energy we had in the first game.”
Saratoga denied Guilderland on four trips after Tasha Chudy began the Blue Streaks’ late spurt with a three-point play to make it 49-46.
“It was grit and stick with it and work,” Robin Chudy said. “At the end of the game we played better.”
“We just came out in the fourth quarter knowing we’ve got to play our hardest,” Ray said.
Tasha Chudy scored on a layup, Cleason sank two free throws, and Chudy added a foul shot to cap the game-deciding run with 12.1 seconds left before Fontenelle-Posson missed on an off-balance 3-point attempt. She had made five 3s before that.
“Valencia is super talented,” Robin Chudy said. “Her shot is so fast. She gets one step and the shot is off, and she creates off the dribble.”
Fontenelle-Posson began Guilderland’s comeback from an 8-0 deficit with two foul shots, and completed her superb first half with a deep 3 just before the buzzer to give the Dutch a 27-25 advantage. The senior guard also had nine rebounds, six steals and drew a charge.
“She’s awesome,” Guilderland coach Chuck Mack said.
Guilderland held the lead throughout the second half until Cleason’s foul shots with 48.2 seconds remaining made it 50-49.
“They played great defense,” Mack said of his cast that includes only three seniors. “You know how hard that is to do?”
Saratoga will play a semifinal game at Averill Park (No. 2, 11-2) Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. Averill Park beat Saratoga 44-41 on Feb. 20.
“We just want our last game to be the final like it was last year and the year before,” Ray said in reference to Saratoga’s Section II Class AA title game setbacks against Shenendehowa in 2019 and 2020.
Guilderland 9 18 12 10 — 49
Saratoga 14 11 11 15 — 51
Guilderland scoring: Fontenelle-Posson 8-6-27, McFerran 1-0-3, Martin 3-0-8, B. Gitto 4-0-11. Saratoga scoring: Carminucci 3-0-6, Chudy 8-5-21, Cleason 2-4-9, Patnode 5-0-11, Ray 2-0-4. Scoring totals: Guilderland 16-6-49, Saratoga 20-9-51.