Playing with the confidence gained by knocking off an unbeaten team in its final game before the postseason, the Duanesburg girls’ basketball team rolled past Fort Plain, 64-34, Tuesday in a Class C sectional opening-round game.
After a sluggish start, the 16-3 Lady Eagles went on a 21-9 roll that encompassed the second quarter and half of the third. Duanesburg, which upset Berne-Knox-Westerlo in the Western Athletic Conference Cup championship game seven days earlier, advances to play at No.2 seed Voorheesville on Friday.
That game is the second of a quarterfinal double-header that begins at 6 p.m.
“That WAC Cup game was such a tough game, even emotionally, it took us a couple of days to get back in game mode,” said first-year Duanesburg head coach Butch Pickett. “I didn’t want to take them [Fort Plain] lightly. I think we came out sort of tentative Once we got the cobwebs out, we got rolling.
“We’re very athletic. Once we get composed, and do good basketball things, we’re a tough team. I feel we can play with anybody.”
Duanesburg’s decisive run came with Fort Plain’s Haley Kilmartin on the bench with a knee injury. Her absence severely limited the Lady Hilltoppers’ ability to run an offense against an aggressive Duanesburg defense.
“When you lose your point guard and floor leader, there’s nothing you can do there,” said Fort Plain coach Phil Karker, who could only watch as his team struggled to maintain possession and run an offense.
Kilmartin tested her knee before the start of the third quarter, but couldn’t go.
“She’s 15 years old, We’re not going to throw her back in there,” said Karker of his sophomore point guard. “We talked about it, she shook her head, ‘No.’
“That was the game. They’re long, we’re playing on a narrow court. They do a great job. They’re a hot team coming in.
“They rebound well, they shoot well, they share the basketball. They’ve got seniors and juniors who have been here before.”
Eleventh-grader Stephanie Rice scored 10 of her team-high 19 points in the second quarter as the Lady Eagles turned a 9-9 game at the end of eight minutes into a 25-15 halftime advantage that steadily grew until the starters left the court in the closing minutes of the game.
“Maddy Kenyon had 17 against [Canajoharie], and she rebounded like crazy,” Pickett said of his team’s offense. “Somebody different pops up different every night.”
While Rice and senior Sam Tomeck (14 points) did most of the heavy lifting on offense, senior guards Dani Hennel and Caitlin Sanders led an aggressive defense that pressed effectively and made life difficult for the No. 10 seed Lady Hilltoppers.
“Caitlin Sanders is my best defender. She’s like a little bulldog,” said Pickett. “We try not to let the opposing guards see their teammates. We get up on them. We want them to worry about handling the ball.”
The balance of offense and defense has the Lady Eagles where Pickett envisioned.
“I knew we had five or six players that were going to be tough for another five or six players to match up against us,” he said. “Getting them to believe that was what I wanted them to do.
“These last two games is what I feel our team is really like.”
The sectional path is a familiar one for Duanesburg, which beat a fellow WAC team, Galway, in the opening round, then lost, 40-26, at eventual champion Voorheesville last year.
“They were in last year’s game with Voorheesville, then that last four minutes was the worst I saw them play last year,” said Pickett. “We played a tough non-league schedule this year, and really prepared for this.”
Sanders and Rachel Gamache both added 11 points to the Duanesburg total. Sophomore Abby Boyer led Fort Plain with 19 points.
Boyer 7-5-19, Kilmartin 0-2-2, Van Loan 1-0-2, Moshinskie 0-2-2, Barhydt 0-2-2, Dettmer 1-1-4, Trembley 0-1-1, Brock 1-0-2. Totals: 10-13-34.
Tomeck 5-3-14, Rice 7-5-19, Kenyon 3-0-6, Hennel 1-0-2, Sanders 5-1-11, Gamache 5-1-11, Gallup 0-1-1. Totals: 26-11-64.
Fort Plain 9 6 12 7 — 34
Duanesburg 9 16 20 19 — 64
Three-point goals: Dettmer, Tomeck.