A year after seeing a fifth straight Section II title elude them, nothing was going to stand in the way of Watervliet.
Junior point guard Ailayia Demand scored 22 points, and forward Mikayla Deguire added 21 as the Lady Cannoneers beat Tamarac, 62-53, for the Class B title at Stillwater High School.
Deguire had 15 points and nearly as many rebounds as the unbeaten Lady Cannoneers opened a 34-27 halftime lead, and Demand took over in the second half, particulary in the fourth quarter, when she scored eight points and locked up tournament MVP honors.
“It feels great to get back on track. We feel wonderful to get it back,” said Demand of the Section II title.”
After falling to Hoosic Valley in the “B” final last year, the Watervliet players and coaching staff rededicated themselves.
“They remember. Eleven and a half months we’ve been waiting to get back to this game,” said Watervliet coach Gordie Johnson, who praised the work of his point guard.
“Who’s a better point guard as a junior? Nobody,” he said. “She makes my job easy. She makes me look good. She’s a great kid, a great competitor.
“When crunch time comes, I can sit down and order pizza because she’s going to win the game. There’s no doubt in my mind. I have all the confidence in the world in her.”
Demand, who had 26 in her team’s semifinal win over Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, admitted to not having the best first half (nine points, five from the line).
“We weren’t sure what they were going to do defensively because I scored so big last game,” she said. “We thought they were going to play a box-and-one, or something like that.”
Tamarac trailed by as many as 12 points late in the second quarter.
The Lady Bengals got to within 36-34 with 5:11 in the third period when Briana Matazinsky’s three straight strong moves to the basket resulted in the third personal fouls for both of Watervliet’s big inside players, Deguire and Lashona Tolliver.
Tamarac had success against Cohoes’ big front line in the semifinals, but the story was different in the final.
“Taking nothing away from the Cohoes kids, but these two are more athletic,” Mulqueen said of Deguire and Tolliver. “Their three best players all had big games.”
Watervliet, 22-0, next plays Section VII champ Saranac at 11 a.m. Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College.
Hoosic Valley opened a 22-4 lead over Section VII champ Moriah, and cruised to a 71-20 in a Class C regional semifinal win in the first game at Stillwater, Whitney Kugler had eight of her 14 points in the first quarter.
The 22-1 Lady Indians play Section X winner Tupper Lake in a reigonal final Saturday at noon at SUNY-Potsdam.
Jacquelyn Miller scored 31 points as Argyle beat Section X’s Hammond in a Class D regional semi at SUNY-Potsdam.
The Lady Scots move into a Saturday game against Section VII champ Indian Lake/Long Lake, at noon at SUNY-Plattsburgh.
WATERVIET 63, TAMARAC 52
Johnson 3-0-9, Mulqueen 3-0-6, Warner 1-0-3, Erickson 3-1-8, Matazinsky 4-6-15, Henderson 5-2-12. Totals: 19-9-53.
Demand 7-8-22, Chartrand 1-0-2, Murray 2-1-6, Tolliver 4-1-9, Shufelt 0-2-2, Deguire 8-5-21. Totals: 22-17-63.
Tamarac 9 18 15 11 — 53
Watervliet 17 17 15 13 — 62
Three-point goals: Johnson 3, Warner, Erickson, Matazinsky, Murrray,.
HOOSIC VALLEY 71, MORIAH 20
Brace 0-1-1, Sheffer 2-0-4, Wykes 1-1-4, Waldron 1-0-2, Callis 2-0-4, Pelkey 0-1-1, Stahl 1-0-2, Cross 1-0-2. Totals: 8-3-20.
Chapko 3-1-9, Anderson 2-4-8, Kugler 6-1-14, Fitzgerald 1-0-3, Lewis 2-0-4, R.Moore 0-1-1, Nigro 3-0-6, Gurney 4-2-13, Connors 1-1-4, M.Moore 4-0-9. Totals: 26-10-71.
Moriah 4 2 7 2 — 20
Hoosic Valley 22 20 15 14 — 71
Three-point goals: Wykes, Chapko 2, Kugler, Fitzgerald, Gurney 3, Connors, M.Moore.
ARGYLE 77, HAMMOND 65
Reynolds 2-4-9, S. Graham 8-2-18, Miller 6-17-31, Ellis 2-2-6, McWhorter 1-0-2, Kennedy 5-1-11. Totals: 24-26-77.
Bova 6-7-21, Whalen 1-0-2, Crosby 9-7-27, Bowman 0-5-5, Langtry 0-1-1, Bush 1-7-9. Totals: 17-27-65.
Argyle 12 15 21 29 — 77
Hammond 17 12 10 26 — 65
Three-point goals: Miller 2, Reynolds, Bova 2, Crosby 2.