TROY — The Schalmont girls’ basketball team didn’t have any of its postseason games decided inside the final minute until the last one, and with a state Class B championship in the balance, the Sabres came up huge.
Haley Burchhardt scored all eight of her points in the last quarter, including the go-ahead putback basket with 25 seconds left, and Waterloo was denied twice afterward in Schalmont’s dramatic 56-54 victory Sunday at Hudson Valley Community College.
Schalmont rallied from a 52-48 deficit over the last three minutes to deal Waterloo (Section V, 26-1) its first loss this season, and to capture its first New York State Public High School Athletic Association title.
Tournament MVP Payton Graber had 20 points, seven rebounds and four steals for the Sabres (27-1), and all-tournament selection Karissa Antoine had 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, the last one preserving a 55-54 lead that Burchhardt had created on her putback hoop.
“You go into a season wanting to win the league, then you focus on sectionals,” Schalmont coach Jeff Van Hoesen said. “I’m so proud of how the kids locked in after that. It wasn’t an easy road, but that makes it super sweet right now.”
Schalmont had Saturday’s 52-42 semifinal win over General Brown wrapped up with three minutes left after a 13-2 spurt made it a nine-point game. With three minutes to go Sunday, Schalmont was looking at that 52-48 deficit against the state’s No. 1-ranked team.
“My heart was definitely racing,” said Graber, a senior guard who closed out her six-year career with 2,023 points. “I wanted to win this game. Everyone else did, too.”
Burchhardt began a closing 8-2 run for Schalmont with a 3-point basket with 2:50 left, and Antoine drove for a basket to make it 53-52 in the see-saw final period.
“Haley knew we weren’t scoring much and we needed momentum,” Antoine said. “She got us going.”
Burchhardt had not made a field goal all weekend, going 0-for-18 in the two games, before sinking that 3. The senior guard had made two free throws earlier in the fourth quarter.
“That three at the end is every player’s dream,” Burchhardt said. “We needed that. Every point was crucial in the fourth quarter.”
“She’s not worried about missing a shot,” Van Hoesen said of Burchhardt. “She always thinks she will hit the next shot.”
After both teams turned the ball over and with Schalmont up 53-52, the 5-foot-5 Burchhardt blocked an attempt down low by 6-1 Waterloo center Giavanna White-Principio. As both players scrambled for the ball on the end line, Burchhardt flipped the ball back while going out of bounds and hit the Indians’ standout in the face, and the.ball went out of bounds.
Burchhardt was called for stepping out of bounds before she flipped the ball — although she didn’t believe she did — and upon resumption of play, White-Principio scored on a putback for a 54-53 Indians lead with 55 seconds left.
“At that point you can’t change the call,” Burchhardt said. “I tried to get everyone to direct their energy to the next play.”
“We kept our composure,” Antoine said. “We kept it cool.”
Burchhardt’s go-ahead putback came after Graber missed on a runner.
“She always steps up for us,” Payton said. “It doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Antoine blocked Macy Carr on a drive after Burchhardt’s clutch basket and Schalmont called a time out with 10.8 seconds left.
“I saw the ball go up, and I wasn’t going to let it go in,” said Antoine, a 6-foot sophomore who added a team-high four assists to her stat line.
After that rejection, Waterloo intentionally fouled three times to reach five, and after the third, Burchhardt sank the second of two free throws with 6.8 seconds left for a 56-54 lead.
From there, Schalmont knocked the ball out of bounds twice when Waterloo passed it in, and on the Indians last possession that started with 2.7 seconds left, Morgan Cabarallo’s hurried runner bounced off the front of the rim.
“Defense won it for us at the end,” Van Hoesen said. “The last two possessions we dug in. We dug in for sure.”
Schalmont never trailed until Waterloo used an 8-0 run to close the third quarter with a 46-43 lead. Two free throws by White-Principio had Waterloo leading 52-48 with 3:19 left in the last quarter.
“When they pulled away, we weren’t letting it go,” Antoine said. “We had to get it back.”
“We knew composure was going to be huge,” Graber said. “We had to keep our heads.”
Schalmont freshman Gianna Cirilla scored all eight of her points in the first half, and Graber and Antoine netted 11 and nine, respectively, when the Sabres built a 31-30 lead. Schalmont extended its lead to 43-38 in the third on an Antoine free throw.
White-Principio had 24 points and 14 rebounds and made the all-tourney team with Carr, who had six points and 11 rebounds.
Schalmont became Section II’s first state Class B champion with its 22nd straight win since a December 22 loss to Class AA Colonie (57-49). Eight of those wins came in the postseason, seven of them by double digits.
Waterloo had beaten Putnam Valley Saturday 61-39 for its 40th straight win going back to last season.
Schalmont 21 10 12 13 — 56
Waterloo 14 16 16 8 — 54
Schalmont scoring: Hallberg 1-0-3, Cirilla 3-0-8, Graber 6-4-20, Antoine 5-5-17, Burchhardt 2-3-8. Waterloo scoring: Caraballo 4-1-10, Carr 1-4-6, DiSanto 1-0-2,, Lewis 3-0-6, White-Principio 9-3-24, Bree 2-0-6. Team totals: Schalmont 17-12-56, Waterloo 20-8-54.