NISKAYUNA — Saratoga Springs forward Natasha Chudy didn’t have the energetic legs to get up and down the basketball court like she usually does, but her vision was just fine.
The standout junior’s ninth and final assist gave the Blue Streaks a three-point lead in the final seconds of a tense 53-48 Suburban Council girls’ basketball win at Niskayuna Tuesday night.
Chudy scored half of her 14 points in the fourth quarter prior to her key feed to Ella Gennoy that put Saratoga Springs up by three points.
“Tosh [Natasha] is coming off COVID and she is barely able to run,” said Robin Chudy, Saratoga Springs’ coach and the mother of one of Section II’s top players. “She got back three or four days ago, and she’s trying to get back to where she was.”
Sophomore Carly Wise anchored the Saratoga Springs offense with 24 points, and, like Natasha Chudy, pulled down 11 rebounds. Wise scored six points during a fourth quarter that saw Saratoga Springs overcome a 38-35 deficit.
“Carly got some big offensive boards and putbacks,” Robin Chudy said. “That was her best game.”
Wise capped the scoring with two free throws with 2.4 seconds left. Just before, with 9.5 seconds left, the 6-foot-2 Natasha Chudy found an open Gennoy under the basket with a perfect pass from the foul line and Gennoy dropped in a layup for a 51-48 advantage.
“The great thing about Tosh is she’s not a selfish player,” her mom said after the Blue Streaks evened their league mark at 3-3. “It was, ‘Where can I find the open person?’”
Kathleen Birmingham sank a 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining to get Niskayuna within 49-48. Gennoy dropped in her second basket on Saratoga’s next trip down.
“What a nice cut, and Tosh found her,” Robin Chudy said. “That was huge.”
Natasha Chudy scored five points and Wise had four in a 12-0 run early in the fourth quarter as Saratoga Springs went up 47-39. Niskayuna answered with six consecutive points before Chudy’s two free throws made it 49-45 with 1:32 left to play.
“To play like that against a team the caliber of Saratoga makes me proud,” Niskayuna coach Sarah Neely said after her group came up just short in its bid for a second win this season. “We’re doing things better. We’re working well together as a unit. Something is starting to click. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Niskayuna held a 38-33 lead late in the third quarter after Hawa Equiza-Gasco sank a 3-pointer, and a putback basket by Wise closed out the period.
“I can see them competing in every game they play,” said Robin Chudy, who was a star basketball player at Union College and Columbia High School. “They gave us a tough time. They’ve got some nice players.”
Birmingham scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half. Heather Schmidt had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Olivia O’Meally contributed nine points, nine rebounds and four steals for Niskayuna.
O’Meally nailed a 3-pointer late in the second quarter to tie the contest at 23, and a Natasha Chudy layup at the buzzer nudged Saratoga Springs ahead.
“We needed her out there,” Robin Chudy said of her daughter, who had games with 35 and 33 points earlier this season. “I tried to give her a little rest here and there, but we needed her leadership on the court.”
Saratoga 13 12 10 18 — 53
Niskayuna 16 7 15 10 — 48
Saratoga scoring: Saratoga scoring: Gennoy 2-0-4, Carminucci 2-0-5, Chudy 5-3-14, Wise 11-2-24, Allen 1-0-3, Lafountain 1-0-3. Niskayuna scoring: Boler 2-1-5, Equiza-Gasco 1-0-3, H. Schmidt 5-0-10, Birmingham 5-0-13, O’Meally 4-0-9, Reffelt 3-1-7, R. Schmidt 0-1-1. Scoring totals: Saratoga 22-5-53, Niskayuna 20-3-48.