Emily Weber knew it would get better, and eventually, she was right on target.
After a lackluster first half, when she scored just five points and misfired on numerous three-point shots, the 5-foot-9 Shenendehowa senior sank a trey on her first shot of the third quarter, and suddenly, the lid on the basket opened up.
Weber scored 12 of her team’s 14 points in the period and finished with a game-high 21 points to spark the Lady Plainsmen to a 38-28 victory over Troy in a Section II Class AA quarterfinal Friday night at
Albany High School’s Larry T. O’Neill Memorial Gymnasium.
“We didn’t play well in the first half, but we knew what we had to do,” said Weber. “In the first half, we forced passes and forced shots. I knew I’d have a better shooting performance in the second half. I hadn’t had a half like the first half all season.”
Weber said she wants to extend her final season in a Green and White uniform as long as she possibly can.
“I’m a senior, and it’s my last year playing Shen basketball,” she said. “We came out and played hard in the second half. We knew Troy was a very talented team, but also very young. We concentrated on playing aggressive defense on both their guards and their post players.”
As usual, defense played a major role for the 17-2 Lady Plainsmen, who forced 28 Troy turnovers.
“We had trouble shooting in the first half, even though we had some good looks,” said Shenendehowa coach Ken Strube, who will retire as Section II’s all-time winning girls’ basketball coach at the end of the postseason. “The girls were acting like we already lost the game at halftime.
“Defense is the most reliable part of our game. When we’ve struggled or just shot moderately well, we’ve still had a chance to win because of our defense. We’re a small team, and Troy did a good job on the boards against us.
“Troy played their hearts out, and we were forcing our passes in the first half, but when Emily made her first shot of the second half, we really got on a roll.”
“We’ve always relied on our defense ever since I’ve been here,” Weber added. “The press has been the key to our season.”
Both teams shot poorly in the first half. Shenendehowa, which shot only 28.6 percent from the floor in the first 16 minutes, finally scored its first basket on a trey by Mary Kate Cusack with 5:06 left in the opening period. Two baskets by Weber helped Shenendehowa grab a 10-8 advantage heading into the second period.
But Troy dominated the boards in the second quarter and made four of its five baskets in that session from inside the lane. When sophomore Mary Pattison converted a driving layup with 12 seconds left in the half, the Flying Horses grabbed an 18-16 halftime lead.
That’s when Weber took over the game, helping Shenendehowa go on an 11-0 run, turning a 23-19 deficit into a 30-23 advantage after three periods.
Weber hit a runner off the glass and added an offensive rebound basket as the Lady Plainsmen pulled away. Shenendehowa’s only losses this season were to Suburban Council rival Shaker (56-55) and to Lancaster (71-51) in a non-league game last weekend.
“We have a little more experience than Troy,” Strube said. “They will be scary next season.”
Troy shot just 2-for-14 from the line.
Pattison finished with nine points for the 15-5 Flying Horses.
Pattison 3-1-9, Patterson 1-0-2, Hanlon 2-0-4, Avery 3-1-7, Williams 3-0-6. Totals: 12-2-28.
Cusack 2-2-7, Connors 3-0-6, Marsal 2-0-4, Weber 9-1-21, Lewis 0-0-0. Totals: 16-3-38.
Troy 8 10 5 5 — 28
Shenendehowa 10 6 14 8 — 38
Three-point goals: Pattison 2, Cusack, Weber 2.