Schalmont overcomes slow start to beat Gouverneur in girls’ basketball state regional semifinal

Schalmont’s Karissa Antoine takes a shot against Gouverneur’s Alexis Devlin during Tuesday's Class B girls' basketball regional semifinal game at Saratoga Springs High School.

Schalmont’s Karissa Antoine takes a shot against Gouverneur’s Alexis Devlin during Tuesday's Class B girls' basketball regional semifinal game at Saratoga Springs High School.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — They were wearing the Schalmont green and white, but in the early stages of Tuesday’s regional semifinal basketball game with Gouverneur, the Sabres hardly looked like the group that won a Section II championship over the weekend.

Something was missing.

“We weren’t moving the ball,” Schalmont coach Jeff Van Hoesen said after the program’s first state tournament contest since 1986. “Once we started to move the ball like we have all year, it turned around. We were finding shooters in good spots.”

Van Hoesen was talking about the second quarter, when the Section II champs knocked down five 3-pointers and reversed an 11-8 deficit with a 20-8 spurt. Schalmont gained further separation with an 11-2 third-quarter run on its way to a 67-43 Class B victory over the Section X representatives at Saratoga Springs High School.

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“We knew if they got hot, we were going to be in trouble,” Gouverneur coach Sean Devlin said.

Haley Burchhardt came up clutch for the Sabres (24-1) once again this postseason by scoring the last nine points in that turnaround second quarter.

“The first quarter gave us motivation,” said Burchhardt, a senior guard who finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals. “In our last game, we were clicking the whole time. Tonight we weren’t playing our game in the first quarter, but we started working together and had more movement. We got back in a good flow.”

Payton Graber collected 26 points, six rebounds and seven assists for Schalmont, with two of those feeds setting up back-to-back 3s by Burchhardt in the second quarter when the state’s No. 2-ranked team achieved its first double-digit lead at 27-17.

Karissa Antoine had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Schalmont, but missed the final 5 ½ minutes of the second quarter after picking up her second foul. Burchhardt outscored Gouverneur 9-4 after that as the half ended with the Sabres up 28-19.

Online Extra: Images from Schalmont’s regional semifinal victory (11 Photos)

“That was something I had to think about,” Burchhardt said of the absence of Antoine, a star sophomore forward who scored 24 points Saturday when Schalmont topped Fonda-Fultonville 73-35 for the Section II title. “I had to lock in.”

Burchhardt accounted for 23 points when Schalmont ended its lengthy Section II title drought, and opened the playoffs with a 20-point effort in a 91-25 win over Bishop Maginn. Burchhardt joined the 1,000 point club in that Feb. 19 game 

“She wanted to get 1,000 points, and she was pressing a little late in the regular season,” Van Hoesen said of Burchhardt, a defensive ace who serves as Schalmont’s third scoring option. “Once she hit that, she found her groove.”

Graber and Schalmont’s other starters, Siena Hallberg and Gianna Cirilla, sank 3s in the second quarter. Graber finished with four of her team’s nine 3s while also going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.

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“That’s the best shooting team we’ve seen,” Devlin said. “In the second quarter, we didn’t rotate enough.”

Hallberg nailed another 3 in the 11-2 third-quarter flurry that gave Schalmont a 43-27 advantage. Aside from her six points, Hallberg had a steal and a blocked shot as well as a couple of assists.

“They stretch the floor and both play great defense,” Van Hoesen said of Hallberg, a senior, and Cirilla, a freshman. “They are so important to what we do as a team.”

Antoine helped put Gouverneur away with 16 second-half points. Antoine had a layup and an assist, and Graber had a layup and two free throws, in the third quarter when the Sabres used their 11-2 run to break away from a 32-25 lead.

Schalmont will bid for its first regional championship at 5 p.m. Saturday when it travels to Clinton Community College for a matchup with Saranac (19-3). Saranac beat Northeastern Clinton 42-38 in the Section VII title game. Saranac is ranked No. 6 in the state.

Online Extra: Images from Schalmont’s regional semifinal victory (11 Photos)

“If we can get the next one, we’ll make history, and that would be nice for the school and nice for the community,” Van Hoesen said. “I know Sanarac is tough on defense and they have some size. We’ll have to be really sharp on offense and move the ball.”

Schalmont hadn’t lost since late December, when Class AA Colonie beat the Sabres 57-49.

“We’ll watch film [of Saranac], but you can’t get a real good feel for a team until you play them,” Burchhardt said. “We’ll have to react to what we see. We’ll have to push through.”

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Raelin Burns scored 21 points for Gouverneur (18-7), and Alexis Devlin grabbed 10 rebounds.

Gouverneur had beaten Canton 37-27 for the Section X Class B title and afterward went 1-1 in the Section X overall tournament with a 45-22 semifinal win over Madrid-Waddington and a 41-31 championship-game loss to Heuvelton. That represented a breakthrough performance for Gouverneur, which made its first appearance in the Section X overall championship game since 1989. Gouverneur came into Tuesday’s contest ranked No. 16 in the state.

Gouverneur 11 8 15 9 — 43

Schalmont 8 20 21 18 — 67

Gouverneur scoring: Smith 1-0-2, Storie 1-0-2, Burns 7-6-21, Conklin 1-0-2, Riutta 2-1-5, Canell 2-0-4, Salisbury 0-4-4, Devlin 1-0-3. Schalmont scoring: Hallberg 2-0-6, Cirilla 1-0-3, Graber 7-8-26, Antoine 9-1-19, Burchhardt 4-3-13. Team totals: Gouverneur 15-11-43, Schalmont 23-12-67.

Online Extra: Images from Schalmont’s regional semifinal victory (11 Photos)

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