Shenendehowa admitted to being embarrassed in its two Suburban Council games with Shaker this season.
They weren’t about to let it happen again Thursday night, not with a spot in the Section II Class AA girls’ basketball final on the line.
Sophomore Samira Sangare scored 18 points, delivering four killer three-point baskets, and classmate Carly Boland added 16 points as the Lady Plainsmen won the game that counted, beating the previously unbeaten Blue Bison, 59-52, at Hudson Valley Community College.
Shenendehowa will play defending champion Albany in Monday’s 6 p.m. final at the Times Union Center.
“All week, it was confidence, confidence, confidence,” said Shenendehowa coach Joe Murphy of trying to repair the psyche of his young team that suffered 61-33 and 59-40 losses during the regular season. “The win last week against Catholic Central told us we’re a pretty good team, even though we’re young in spots.”
“We hated that,” said Sangare of the two previous losses to Shaker. “We really wanted this bad.”
Shenendehowa’s biggest change was its rebounding.
Shaker’s twin towers of Becky Rossier and Sage VanAmerongen had intimidated the Lady Plainsmen in the first two games.
This time, Boland, Sangare and Sydney Brown boxed out, fought for rebounds and kept Shaker from getting multiple shots on its possessions.
“We did a pretty good job on the boards, no doubt about it,” Murphy said. “They really wanted it. They boxed out and played defense.
“We watched film of the first two games, and it was embarrasing. But at the same time, we saw that if we boxed out, those shots at Siena were second-chance shots. All week we talked about it, put in a game plan, and it came out well.”
Sangare was the other ingredient missing in the first two games with Shaker, as Boland had no complementary scoring threat.
“One time she threw up a three, and I yelled ‘Short,’ ” said Murphy. “She hit it, turned around and looked at me and gave me a little smirk. I knew she was going to have a good game after that. She played tremendously.”
“This is great,” said Sangare. “Especially since came we in as underdogs. We all played a great game.
“Rebounding was a big part. We worked on that all week. We all put a lot of effort into it. It’s like coach said, its all heart and hustle.”
Senior guard Maddie Shea did a good job of hounding Jenni Barra. Though Shaker’s best offensive threat finished with 20 points, Shea never let Barra go off on a run.
Albany advanced to its second straight final by beating Bethlehem, 51-47, in the first game.
The Falcons took control with a 19-12 third-quarter advantage, as Ariel Greer scored seven points.
Ayanna Hunter hit a three to open the fourth to make it 43-36, and Bethlehem never caught up, closing to 47-46 on Jenna Giacone’s fourth straight basket for the Lady Eagles.
ALBANY 51, BETHLEHEM 47
G. Giacone 8-2-18, J. Giacone 8-0-18, Hughes 0-2-2, Rickert 1-2-5, O’Donnell 0-2-2, McKenna 1-0-2. Totals: 18-8-47.
Chandler 5-2-12, Hunter 5-0-11, Dollard 1-0-2, Wilson 1-2-4, Williams 2-0-4, Greer 3-1-7, Waterson 4-1-11. Totals: 21-6-51.
Bethlehem 13 11 12 11 — 47
Albany 11 10 19 11 — 51
Three-point goals: J.Giacone 2, Rickert, Hunter, Waterson 2.
SHENDEHOWA 59, SHAKER 52
Shea 3-3-9 Brown 1-2-4, Boland 5-4-16, Acker 1-1-3, Sangare 6-2-18, Lee 1-2-5, Tudor 2-0-5. Totals: 19-14-59.
Barra 7-3-20, Artis 1-2-4, Rossier 5-0-10, VanAmerongnen 3-1-7, Rowland 3-3-10, Mayo 0-1-1. Totals: 19-10-51
Shenendehowa 16 16 13 14 — 59
Shaker 16 10 11 15 — 52
Three-point goals: Boland 2, Sangare 4, Lee, Tudor, Barra 3, Rowland.