Defense wins championships. It also shatters dreams.
Averill Park smothered Scotia-Glenville from start to finish Saturday, and Brooke O’Shea turned in an outstanding two-way game as the Lady Warriors beat the Lady Tartans, 41-33, in the Section II Class A girls’ basketball final at Hudson Valley Community College. The sectional title was the third straight — and fourth in five years — for coach Sean Organ’s teams, the Federation champion in 2010 and state public school finalist last March.
The loss also ended Scotia’s bid for the school’s first girls’ basketball championship since 1980, something they have been getting closer to each of the last four years.
O’Shea scored a team-high 13 points and, along with Elaina Ryan and Julia Mai, furiously defended every inch of the court. The result was Scotia’s lowest offensive output of the season, with a two-point second quarter proving too much too overcome.
“Brooke O’Shea is the most overlooked player in Section II,” said Organ. “She’s part of four sectional championship teams. She’s been the Class A [tournament] MVP two times. She knows how to elevate her game.
“She saw this as an opportunity to match up with one of the better players in Section II in Cassie Broadhead.”
O’Shea picked up Broadhead all over the floor, making it difficult for the soon-to-be three-time Foothills Council MVP to get off a pass, much less a shot. Elaina Ryan treated Monica Compton, Scotia’s other career 1,000-point scorer, to the same lockdown defense, denying Compton any shots in the first quarter and just two points for the game.
“We had a great game, defensively, as a team,” said Organ. “We saw that Compton is a very physical player. Elaina Ryan is very athletic, and we felt that would be a good matchup for us.”
“Brooke’s a great player, and she had a great game,” said Broadhead, who finished with a game-high 15 points to end her junior season just shy of 1,400 points for her varsity career. “But we turned the ball over way too many times.”
Scotia coach Regan Burns agreed.
“We had way too many turnovers, but credit to Averill Park. They did a good job of not allowing us to run our sets,” said Burns, whose team cut a 14-point third quarter deficit to six when Broadhead hit a three-pointer with one minute to play.
“Their three guards all really played well, defensively.”
Organ was pleased enough with the defensive effort that he didn’t worry when his team’s offense struggled as Scotia made its late charge.
“Even when we had two or three possessions where we didn’t get off a shot, I told them not to panic,” said Organ. “As long as we kept up the pressure, it was OK.”
Averill Park came out raining threes in the first quarter, with Julia Mai opening the game by making two treys over Broadhead at the top of the Lady Tartans’ 2-3 zone for a quick 6-0 lead. The Lady Warriors made four three-pointers – Alison Nunziato added a pair — and only one two-point basket in the first eight minutes in opening a 14-10 lead.
“They can really knock down the threes, and, unfortunately for us, today they hit them,” said Burns.
“When we come out and make those shots, it gets our offense rolling,” said O’Shea.
O’Shea took over the second quarter, as the Lady Warriors kept Scotia off the board until point guard Angie DiJohn scored on a baseline drive with 38 seconds left in the half.
O’Shea scored four points in the second, but continually put the Scotia defense under pressure by driving to the basket or finding an open teammate for a basket, as Averill Park took a 24-10 edge before DiJohn scored.
Scotia even had trouble getting to the free-throw line, DiJohn missing both of her team’s chances.
Averill Park’s lead grew to 30-14 3:06 into the second half, as O’Shea twice sliced through the lane for layups. That, and a hard-moving pick by Carney that flattened Broadhead, caused Burns to use a timeout. Broadhead hit a three soon after, but Scotia could do no better than tread water, and trailed, 33-21, heading into the fourth quarter.
“It was a game of runs, and every time we could make a run, Averill Park came right back.” Burns said.
Ryan’s effort defending Compton, who scored her only two points in the fourth quarter, made the Tartans search for other options. Sarah Janson helped out with six points, and DiJohn added eight, to go with her team-high eight rebounds.
Scotia, which finished the season 18-3, saw a 13-game winning streak end.
“Every year, we’ve gotten one step farther,” said Broadhead. “We wanted to win it this year.”
Averill Park gets a bye into the regional finals on the HVCC court this Saturday at 12:30, where it will play the winner of Wednesday’s regional semifinal between the Section III champion Jamesville-DeWitt and Section X winner Massena.
Broadhead 6-1-15, Janson 3-0-6, Compton 1-0-2, Ferrari 1-0-2, DiJohn 4-0-8, Totals: 15-1-33.
Ryan 2-2-6, Carney 2-1-5, O’Shea 6-1-13, Mai 3-1-9, Nunziato 2-2-8 Totals: 15-7-41
Scotia-Glenville 10 2 9 12 — 33
Averill Park 14 10 9 8 — 41
Three-point goals: Broadhead 2, Mai 2, Nunziato 2.