Though her team had already clinched its sixth consecutive Western Athletic Conference Northern Division championship before Friday’s game with Saratoga Catholic even began, Braves coach Wendi Waters noted it’s just the beginning of her team’s to-do list.
Fonda used a big second quarter to pull away and beat the Saints, 63-32, Friday, improving to 59-1 in its division over the last five years. The Braves (11-0 WAC, 16-1 overall) clinched the division one night earlier by virtue of St. Johnsville’s victory over second-place Galway, Waters said.
“They knew they had clinched it going in, but we were trying to downplay that a little bit because we have bigger goals this year,” Waters said. “We have a real special group this year. Winning the league is our first goal, but now we want to take care of the WAC championship.”
Schenectady Christian School beat the Braves by one point, 30-29, for the overall league title last season. Fonda won it in 2007.
“So we want to get that back, and try to make a nice run in sectionals,” Waters said.
Paula Egelston nearly had a triple-double for the Braves on Friday with 16 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists. She scored 10 points in the third quarter, and had plenty of contributions from her teammates.
Kim Lepine and Amanda Baker each scored 14 points, with Lepine grabbing seven rebounds and adding a complementary inside presence to Egelston in the paint.
“When they would double in on Paula, [Lepine] would find ways to free herself up and get open,” Waters said.
Alyssa Nowak added 10 points for Fonda, and Britteny Lasky had six assists.
“When our outside shots are falling, that’s when we’re tough to stop,” Waters said.
Cate Mensler scored 12 points to lead Saratoga Catholic (4-7, 5-12).
Egelston, a junior, is among Section II’s top 10 scorers at 16.9 points per game, and averages around 12 rebounds per game, too.
“I can’t say enough about her,” Waters said. “She’s so humble, she plays her heart out there, and she’s unselfish. She doesn’t take a bad shot, and if another teammate of hers is open, she’ll find them and give them the ball.”
Fonda started the game strongly — Waters called it one of her team’s best starts this season — though Saratoga Catholic trimmed it to 16-9 by the end of the first quarter.
The Braves ran away with a 19-4 second quarter to take a 35-13 lead at halftime.
“We cut it to seven in the first quarter — we defended well early, we got a lot of deflections, we had a couple of run-outs,” Saratoga Catholic coach Steve Lombard said. “We don’t come out to play in the second quarter, and unfortunately for everybody, it was very frustrating, but we competed the rest of the game.”
Lombard said that while the Saints were able to handle Fonda’s press in the backcourt, once reaching the frontcourt, things did not work out as well.
For the Braves, there are more goals on the horizon with senior night on Wednesday and the WAC semifinals one week from today.
“The thing with this group, it’s one of the best groups I’ve had in terms of team chemistry,” Waters said. “They get along on and off the court. … Real tight-knit group. And tonight I think it was obvious. I had four girls in double figures. They passed the ball well. They move the ball, they find the open person. It’s one of those teams where they don’t care who scores. They know Paula is our go-to person, but if other people are open, they can score.”
Nowak 4-1-10, Baker 6-0-14, Lasky 1-0-3, Lepine 7-0-14, Egelston 7-2-16, Greco 1-0-2, Turner 2-0-4. Totals: 28-3-63.
Anderson 0-1-1, Goodson 2-0-4, Rizzo 0-1-1, Denier 2-0-4, Lenz 0-1-1, Mensler 4-4-12, Kirby 3-0-7, Sullivan 1-0-2. Totals: 12-7-32.
Fonda 16 19 18 10 — 63
Spa Catholic 9 4 11 8 — 32
Three-point goals: Nowak, Baker 2, Lasky, Kirby.