2021-22 Daily Gazette girls’ basketball all-area teams

Schalmont’s Payton Graber with the ball against Westerloo’s Natalie DiSanto during Class B high school basketball state finals at HVCC in Troy on Sunday, March 20, 2022.
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Schalmont’s Payton Graber with the ball against Westerloo’s Natalie DiSanto during Class B high school basketball state finals at HVCC in Troy on Sunday, March 20, 2022.

A fresh wave of first-team selections highlight The Daily Gazette All-Area girls’ basketball honors for the 2021-22 season.

A year after the first team included four repeat selections and five seniors, three seniors, a junior and one sophomore make up this season’s top team. Three of those players — Averill Park’s Amelia Wood, and Schalmont’s Karissa Antoine and Payton Graber — helped lead their respective school teams to state championships this year, while Madison Meyer led Duanesburg to a program-best season and Natasha Chudy delivered all over the court for Saratoga Springs.

Here’s a look at the accomplishments of this season’s first-teamers.

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AMELIA WOOD, AVERILL PARK

Averill Park coach Sean Organ said it was an “amazing story” the way Amelia Wood capped her outstanding five-year varsity career with the Warriors. She did that by scoring 20 points and pulling down 20 rebounds in a 54-48 state title-game win over Tappan Zee, and became the school’s career-points leader in that game, too.

The 5-foot-11 guard was named the state tournament MVP to go with the Suburban Council MVP award she previously received.

“We were up 12, they hit some 3s, and the next thing you know we’re down two,” Organ said of the Class A state final. “She had a look of fire in her eyes. ‘This is not going to happen.’ She went out and took over the game.”

Wood finished the game with 1,544 career points and moved past 2010 graduate Katie Duma (1,537) on the all-time Averill Park scoring chart. Duma had also led Averill Park to a state [and Federation] title her senior year and, like Wood, had garnered a bunch of MVP awards.

“Kids growing up wanted to be the next Katie Duma,” Organ said. “Now, they grow up and want to be the next Amelia Wood.”

Wood shined in postseason play including a 19-point, 12-rebound effort when Averill Park beat Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 61-46 for its eighth-straight Section II title, and a 12-point, 13-rebound, eight-assist effort when Averill Park beat West Babylon 56-36 in the state semifinals. In the next game, she reached 20 points for the 13th time (she had highs of 34 and 31) and delivered down the stretch in leading Averill Park to its second state championship.

“She stepped up in the fourth quarter. She made plays,” Organ said. “In the last three-and-a-half, four minutes, it came down to we had Amelia Wood and they didn’t.”

Wood averaged 22 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals for the youthful Warriors who had only one other senior in Michelina Lombardi.

“It would have been easy for the two seniors to do too much and not allow the other girls to grow,” Organ said. “Instead they challenged them. Patted them on the back. That put us on course for a really good season.”

Wood assumed a leadership role with the Warriors like her sisters Mallory, Caraline and Kelsey had before, and the youngest of the clan will be joining Kelsey at Division I Sacred Heart next school year.

MADISON MEYER, DUANESBURG

It took one heck of a screen — that might have been illegal — to significantly slow, but not stop, Madison Meyer’s engine in Duanesburg’s state semifinal against Newark Valley.

The 5-foot-6 senior point guard for the Eagles’ girls’ basketball team was on the floor for several seconds as a result of it. But those familiar with Meyer had a sense that once she rose, the engine would purr along just fine.

And it did.

Meyer concluded a five-year varsity career in that loss to Newark Valley with a team-high 12 points and the full gratitude of the Duanesburg fans for helping guide the team into the state tournament this season. Meyer finished with the school’s girls’ scoring record of 1,572 career points. This season she averaged over 20 points per game and approximately five assists and four steals per game in leading Duanesburg to its first-ever area title.

But one of her intangibles is that motor.

“She doesn’t stop,” coach Chris Herron said. “She is definitely all over the court.”

Meyer, the co-MVP of the Western Athletic Conference’s Mohawk Division along with sophomore teammate Allison O’Hanlon, was named the MVP of the Section II Class C Tournament after a 19-point effort in the final versus Greenwich. She followed that with a 26-point outing in the regional final against Northern Adirondack.

Meyer was the only starting senior on a team with four sophomore starters. Herron said her leadership stood out on and off the court.

“One of the biggest things, aside from basketball, is how cheerful and a very caring person she is,” Herron said. “It’s bigger than basketball as to what she brings to the school and community. We’re involved with a charity every year, and she’s always the first person to hop on board with that and get others involved. She’s made me a better person.”

Meyer has committed to Skidmore College, where she will continue her basketball career.

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NATASHA CHUDY, SARATOGA SPRINGS

Saratoga Springs junior Natasha Chudy still has some growing to do, but the Blue Streaks are embracing the opportunity to have their 1,000-point scorer back for her senior year.

The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 22.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game for Saratoga Springs. She finished this past season with 1,100 career points.

“It’s nice to see a kid who sees the whole court, knows the game, knows where the next play should be,” said Saratoga Springs coach Robin Chudy, who is Natasha Chudy’s mother. “She can anticipate where someone’s going to cut to and look for them. She has a really high basketball IQ, which is hard to find.” 

Natasha Chudy scored her 1,000th career point on the road against Bishop Kearney at Cicero-North Syracuse and followed that performance up by announcing her commitment to Lafayette College.

Chudy used her height to pull down 185 rebounds this year, giving her 541 for her career, placing her at the top of the Blue Streaks career rebounding list.

Some of her biggest games came against Guilderland — a 37-point night with 14 rebounds and six assists in their December meeting and a 38-point performance against the Dutchmen in March. Against rival Shenendehowa, she came up with a 29-point, seven-rebound, six-assist night in a 66-51 loss in December.

Before she enters the college ranks, Chudy is not done contributing for the Blue Streaks.

“I would say the best is really yet to come, which is awesome for us,” Robin Chudy said. “She’s going to be a threat, but we’re gonna have a bunch of others around her. That will only make our program and our team stronger.”

KARISSA ANTOINE, SCHALMONT

Her production in the box score was undeniably impressive, but the greatest gauge of just how important sophomore forward Karissa Antoine was to Schalmont might be the lengths that opposing players went to avoid her defensive prowess.

Quite simply, the 6-foot-0 Antoine was a defensive terror for the Class B state champion Sabres. When she wasn’t causing utter havoc as the tip of the spear in Schalmont’s disruptive full-court press, she was patrolling the paint in half-court sets and providing a fearsome deterrent for any opponent that might want to drive into the lane.

“Her presence alone,” Schalmont coach Jeff Van Hoesen said, “will have people pulling off or deciding not to go to the hoop. You get off the bus with Karissa and you already have an advantage because of her athleticism.”

Antoine’s numbers — 10.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game — bear out her effectiveness on that end of the court.

On the offensive end of the floor, this year proved vital to her development, as she improved her passing, ball-handling, shooting and playmaking, to add to her impressive size and athleticism. Antoine averaged 18.1 points per game, including a career-high 36 in an early season win over Holy Names, and showcased an ability to score in bunches. In Schalmont’s opening-round Section II Class B tournament win over Bishop Maginn, Antoine scored 24 points — 20 of which came in the game’s opening 10 minutes. She also scored a game-high 24 points in the Sabres’ win over Fonda-Fultonville for the area championship.

“She just has an all-around game that’s unbelievable,” Van Hoesen said.

It’s no surprise that Antoine — who will start her junior season with 895 career points — has already received significant interest from Division I colleges, with an offer from Manhattan College and several other programs already in contact with her.

That should only increase over the next two years, as with seniors Payton Graber and Haley Burchhardt set to graduate in June, Antoine will get the keys to the Schalmont offense next winter, with a chance to show off her ever-diversifying skillset.

“Her role is going to expand tremendously going into next year,” Van Hoesen said. “She’s going to be handling the ball quite a bit more. She’s going to be leading the team without question now — and she’s up to the challenge and excited about it.”

PAYTON GRABER, SCHALMONT

Payton Graber entered her senior season at Schalmont with her individual legacy secured, having already broken the Sabres’ career scoring record during her junior season.

This season? 

It was all about bringing the program to a height it had previously never reached.

“Since coming in as a seventh-grader, she really helped establish a culture for us,” Van Hoesen said. “She’s just a clear-cut winner, and she’ll do anything to put herself in a position to really elevate her teammates and elevate her own game. She’s come back every single year, since seventh grade, with an improved game. Something little — passing, shooting, ball-handling — she’s always getting better.”

A six-year varsity player who ended her career with a school-best 2,023 points — good for ninth all-time on the Section II leaderboard — Graber ended her career with a flourish. She was the most valuable player of the Section II Class B tournament after leading the dominant Sabres to their first area title in 36 years, then was the Class B state tournament’s most valuable player as well in spearheading Schalmont’s first-ever state girls’ basketball title.

“Looking at the pictures [from the state championship], it’s just amazing to see the look on her face, because she’s worked so hard,” Van Hoesen said. “She just wants to win basketball games, and for her to end her career with a sectional title, a regional title and the state championship is just completely fitting for the kid that she is.”

The 5-foot-8 Graber, who has garnered collegiate interest from Saint Rose, Daemen and Post, averaged 21.7 points per game this season, with the versatile guard impressively filling the rest of the stat sheet as well as she averaged 4.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 steals per game.

Graber’s defining moments came in Schalmont’s state championship run. In the semifinal win over General Brown, playing with four fouls, she scored 13 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter to propel the Sabres into the championship game. The next day, her team-high 20 points were crucial to Schalmont’s dramatic 56-54 title win over Waterloo.

“Payton’s a clutch player,” Van Hoesen said. “The kids on the team, in that huddle, they feel comfortable with Payton having the ball in those late-game situations. She’s a clutch kid. She’s a gamer, and she always plays best in the toughest games that we’re in.”

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FIRST TEAM

Amelia Wood, Averill Park, 12; Madison Meyer, Duanesburg, 12; Karissa Antoine, Schalmont, 10; Payton Graber, Schalmont, 12; Natasha Chudy, Saratoga Springs, 11.

SECOND TEAM

Maren Louridas, Bethlehem, 12; Janay Brantley, Catskill, 11; Jayla Tyler, Colonie, 11; Jillian Huerter, Shenendehowa, 12; Sydney Hart, South Glens Falls, 11.

THIRD TEAM

Shonyae Edmonds, Albany, 11; Michelina Lombardi, Averill Park, 12; Carlie Rzeszotarski, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 12; Alison O’Hanlon, Duanesburg, 10; Kaleigh Montanez, Shenendehowa, 11.

HONORABLE MENTION

SUBURBAN COUNCIL: Me’Challe Cancer, Albany, 11; Taylor Holohan, Averill Park, 10; Ellie Cerf, Bethlehem, 10; Carly Wise, Saratoga Springs, 10; Kaelah Carter, Shaker, 12.

FOOTHILLS COUNCIL: Sydney Hoefs, Amsterdam, 12; Jaidyn Chest, Johnstown, 11; Jaden Wilson, Johnstown, 12; Kendra Ballard, Queensbury, 11; Brigid Duffy, Queensbury, 12.

COLONIAL COUNCIL: Saige Randolph, Albany Academy, 11; Tanavia Turpin, Catholic Central, 9; Sophia Bologna, Holy Names, 9; Carolina Williams, Ichabod Crane, 9; Haley Burchhardt, Schalmont, 12

WASAREN LEAGUE: Stasia Epler, Cambridge, 12; Emma Shields, Emma Willard, 12; Norah Niesz, Greenwich, 11 Adrianna Rojas, Greenwich, 10; Chloe Goverski, Mechanicville, 12.

WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: Alexis Wright, Berne-Knox-Westerlo, 12; Alex Moses, Duanesburg, 10; Kyla Smith, Fonda-Fultonville, 12; Cloey Dopp, Mayfield, 10; Jessica Meade, Schoharie, 12.

OTHER: Hannah Konsul, Catskill, 12; Abby Taylor, Chatham, 12; Maddie DeLisle, Corinth, 12; Gabbie McFarren, Hartford, 12; Karlee Nims, Hartford, 12.

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Categories: High School Sports, Rotterdam, Saratoga Springs, Sports

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