For eight minutes Saturday, Colonie hung with Cicero-North Syracuse and the nation’s top high school player, Breanna Stewart.
Then the University of Connecticut recruit took over, leading the Lady Northstars to an easy 58-39 win in a Class A regional final at Hudson Valley Community College.
Watervliet also saw its season end one game short of the state public school final four, as the Lady Cannoneers lost for the first time this year, bowing to Section VII’s Saranac, 45-33, in the first game of three at HVCC.
Averill Park, though, earned its third straight trip to the state semis by knocking off Jamesville-DeWitt (Section III), 46-40. The 17-5 Lady Warriors will play here Friday at 3:15 against Section I champ Pearl River.
Hoosic Valley (Class C) and Argyle (Class D) also moved into the state semis. The once-beaten Lady Indians downed Section VII’s Indian Lake/Indian Lake, 47-21, in a regional final at SUNY-Potsdam. The Lady Scots bested Tupper Lake of Section X, 60-18, at SUNY-Plattsburgh.
The 6-foot-4 Stewart, named the Naismith Award winner earlier in the week, opened the game by hitting a pair of three-pointers. Sydnie Rosales and Jaclyn Welch answered in kind for Colonie.
Stewart was just getting warmed up, as she outscored the Lady Raiders, 23-22, as the Lady Northstars took a commanding 37-22 lead at the break.
“Obviously, playing a great team like that, there’s no room to make mistakes. We played well, but I think we played a little nervous,” said senior forward Ashley Loggins, who scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in her final high school game.
The closest Colonie came to slowing Stewart down was when she and Colonie’s Laura Kipper banged heads diving for a loose ball — something that also likely caught the attention of UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who was in attendance.
“She’s an amazing player, and she’s going to score her points. You just need to try to play great team defense,” said Loggins. “She does everything, so its difficult. We wanted to play her tough, and not let her get the ball to other people.”
“She’s tough to stop,” said Colonie coach Heather Fiore. “We tried a lot of defenses, but she played very well.”
Stewart finished with 31 points on 9-of-12 shooting (3-for-5 on threes), grabbed 12 rebounds, had three steals, blocked four shots and either altered a shot or changed a would-be shooter’s mind on several other occasions.
The Lady Northstars also made a quick defensive adjustment that held both Rosales, Colonie’s most dangerous scorer, and Welch to one basket the remainder of the game.
“They were in man [to-man], and Jaclyn and Sydnie were open. Then they went to zone, and we struggled,” said Fiore. “When they went into that zone, we had a lot of trouble moving the ball and getting the ball inside. We weren’t attacking like we should have.”
Colonie finished 20-3.
“We had an amazing season. A lot of people didn’t think we’d be in this position, but we believed,” said Fiore.
Watervliet didn’t shoot well (10-for-59) and was outrebounded, 52-30, in falling for the first time this season.
Saranac used a 10-4 run late in the second quarter to take a 22-19 lead at the half, then outscored the Lady Cannoneers, 19-8 in the third period.
“We didn’t box out, and they’re a jump-shooting team, so there’s going to be a lot of long rebounds,” said Johnson. “They got to every loose ball.”
Mikayla Deguire, very effective in Watervliet’s previous two games, spent most of the second quarter on the bench after picking up two fouls.
Ailayiah Demand led Watervliet with 11 points, and Deguire had 10 and nine rebounds.
“We didn’t execute. We got a little bit nervous,” said Watervliet coach Gordie Johnson. “We didn’t execute offensively or defensively.”
Averill Park scored the first 10 points of the Class A game before the Lady Red Rams got untracked, and led, 19-8, when Julia Mai opened the second quarter with a three. The Section III champions got to within 19-18 before the Lady Warriors tacked on three free throws before the end of the half.
Mai scored the first five points of the second half to give Averill Park a nine-point edge.
“Our kids worked as hard as anybody, and they earned the right to get back here,” said Averill Park coach Sean Organ. “They understand that this is rare, and even though its happened a couple of times over the past few years, it may never happen again.”
Cassidy Chapko scored 20 points as 22-1 Hoosic Valley took a 31-8 halftime lead, and went on to earn a semifinal against Coleman Catholic this Saturday at 2:15.
Jacquelyn Miller scored 16 points as 21-3 Argyle advanced to play Livingston Manor in this Saturday’s 10:45 a.m. state semifinal.
CICERO-NORTH SYRACUSE 58, COLONIE 39
Bowles 0-0-0, Paul 3-1-8, Timpano 3-1-9, Stewart 12-4-31, Gannett 2-2-6, Hauberg 0-1-1, Miles 0-1-1, Nichols 1-0-2. Totals: 21-10-58.
Rosales 2-0-5, Welch 2-0-6, Loggins 8-0-17, Kipper 1-0-2, Young 2-0-4, Blum 0-3-3, Archie 1-0-2. Totals: 16-3-39.
Cicero-North Syracuse 18 19 19 2 — 58
Colonie 14 8 4 13 — 39
Three-point goals: Paul, Timpano 2, Stewart 3, Rosales, Welch 2, Loggins.
AVERILL PARK 46, JAMESVILLE-DeWITT 40
Goodrum 0-4-4, Mannion 1-0-2, Maroney 2-0-5, Cavanaugh 4-0-12, Beville 4-0-8, Caniseo 2-1-5, Smith 1-0-2, Robens 1-0-2. Totals:15-5-40.
Mai 4-5-16, O’Shea 1-4-6, Carney 5-0-10, Nunziatio 1-3-5, Ryan 2-2-6, Donnelly 0-3-3. Totals: 13-17-46.,
Jamesville-DeWitt 8 10 14 8 — 40
Averill Park 17 5 17 7 — 46
Three-point goals:Maroney, Cavanaugh 4, Mai 3.
SARANAC 45, WATERVLIET 33
Napper 2-2-7, Maye 5-2-14,, Ducatte 4-4-13, Linder 2-1-5, Phaneuf 1-0-2, Gates 2-0-4. Totals: 16-9-45.
Demand 3-5-11, Murray 1-0-2, Tolliver 1-2-4, Chartrand 1-0-3, Deguire 5-0-10, Blair 1-0-3. Totals: 12-7-33.
Saranac 8 14 19 4 —45
Watervliet 10 9 8 6 — 33
Three-point goals: Napper, Maye 2, Ducatte, Chartrand, Blair.
HOOSIC VALLEY 60, TUPPER LAKE 18
M.Anderson 3-2-9, Chapko 7-5-20, Kugler 3-0-8, Lewis 2-0-4, R.Moore 2-0-4, T.Anderson 3-0-6, Connors 1-0-3, Kocienski 1-0-2, M.Moore 0-1-1, Nigro 1-0-3. Totals: 23-8-60.
Aldrich 1-0-3, Pickering 1-0-3, Zurich 0-1-1, Stuart 3-0-6, Dansford 1-0-2, Bickford 0-3-3. Totals: 6-4-18.
Hoosic Valley 17 14 15 14 — 60
Tupper Lake 4 4 7 3 — 18
Three-point goals: M.Anderson, Chapko, Kugler 2, Connors, NIgro, Aldrich, Pickering.