Johnstown had no answer for 5-foot-4 dynamo Jenna Erickson.
The senior point guard not only poured in a game-high 24 points by constantly shredding the Lady Bills’ interior defense, but she also was the catalyst in Tamarac’s zone press as the Bengals won their first Section II Class B championship, 53-45, Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College’s McDonough Sports Complex.
Erickson was one of the smallest players on the court, yet she was almost unstoppable with her cross-over dribbling that set up her frequent slashing drives through the lane. The Lady Bills slowed her down from time to time by fouling her, but she made them pay by sinking eight free throws.
“Jenna is a little general,” said Tamarac head coach Eric Medved. “She’s only 5-4, but her heart is the size of Texas. A lot of Division I college programs didn’t even look at her at all because of her size, but she gives it her all every second. I only took her out of games for a few minutes just a couple of times all year. She played all-out for every game, and she willed us to victory.”
“It took us a while to get our offense going, but we didn’t give up,” said Erickson, who announced that she indeed earned a Division I basketball scholarship to St. Thomas Aquinas. “Our defense has been the key for us all season. Our defense gets our offense going.”
Medved said the Bengals usually mix up their traps and presses, but against the Lady Bills, they stayed with their zone press.
“It was working, so why change it,” Medved said. “It definitely disrupted Johnstown’s offense. The only thing I would have done a little differently was to make sure our girls moved their feet a little better so they didn’t get called for so many fouls.”
Both teams suffered through frigid shooting from the floor in the first half, as they combined to shoot just 11-for-36, but after Johnstown pulled out to an 11-7 first-quarter lead, the Bengals rode Erickson’s dynamic play to a 21-17 halftime lead. She scored 10 of her points in the second period.
Erickson added nine more points in the third period, including several driving layups through the heart of the Johnstown defense, to help the Bengals build a 38-27 lead heading into the final period.
With 6-0 senior center Adiya Henderson, daughter of former Siena center Monty Henderson, beginning to dominate inside, Tamarac led by as many as 15 (46-31 and 48-33) in the fourth period, before Johnstown finally solved the Bengals’ press and began to cut the deficit at the free-throw line. The Lady Bills were 10-for-10 from the line in the final quarter.
“We’ve come close to winning a sectional title a couple of times, but this is our first one,” said Medved. “Two years ago, we lost to Watervliet, and that one was quite a motivation to us. We’ve finally got our title now, and it’s on to the states. Everything is gravy now.”
Tamarac meets Section X champion Canton Tuesday night at 6 at Troy High.
“We had our opportunities,” said Johnstown head coach Tim Derwin. “We just couldn’t score enough points today.”
Hope Cerasuolo and Megan Anagnostopulos, who combined for 24 points, were both named to the Class B all-sectional team, along with Tamarac’s Henderson, who finished with 16 points, and tourney MVP Erickson.
Senior Kelly Donnelly registered 22 points and eight rebounds to lift Averill Park over Queensbury, 65-44, in the Class A championship game.
Rachael Apfel added 14 points for Averill Park. Kelly McLaughlin’s 18 points and 16 rebounds topped Queensbury.
In the Class C title game, tourney MVP Lauren Madigan notched 19 points to lead four double-digit scorers as Hoosic Valley downed Grenwich, 51-40.
Alyssa Paul (11), Sam Carlo (11) and Laura McGreevy (10) also scored in double figures for Hoosic Valley. Alexis Case led Greenwich with 16.
Alexis Thomas scored 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting to help Fort Edward edge Fort Ann, 43-39, in the Class D title game.
TAMARAC 53, JOHNSTOWN 45
McCoy 0-2-2, Anagnostopulos 2-5-10, Cerasuolo 4-6-14, Nellis 2-0-4, Stock 3-5-11, O’Rourke 2-0-4. Totals: 13-18-45.
Gavin 1-0-3, Erickson 8-8-24, Mitchell 0-2-2, Werner 1-2-4, Casale 2-0-4, Henderson 5-6-16. Totals: 17-18-53.
Johnstown 11 6 10 18 — 45
Tamarac 7 14 17 15 — 53
Three-point goals: Anagnostopulos, Gavin.
AVERILL PARK 65, QUEENSBURY 44
Davis 0-1-1, Carote 3-2-8, McLaughlin 5-8-18, McAllister 2-1-5, Nelson 0-2-2, Shevlin 1-0-2, Rodriguez 1-1-3, O’Connor 2-0-5. Totals: 14-15-44.
Donnelly 7-7-22, Laranjo 2-0-4, Wood 2-4-8, Vanroy 2-2-6, Miner 0-2-2, Apfel 6-2-14, O’Shea 2-4-8. Totals: 21-21-65.
Queensbury 12 15 8 9 — 44
Averill Park 15 17 20 13 — 65
Three-point goals: Donnelly, O’Connor.
HOOSIC VALLEY 51, GREENWICH 40
Case 6-3-16, Linnett 4-4-13, James 1-2-4, Sam. Whitehouse 1-1-3, Sab. Whitehouse 1-0-2, M. Schafer 1-0-2. Totals: 14-10-40.
Madisan 7-5-19, Paul 3-2-11, McGreevy 3-1-10, Carlo 4-3-11. Totals: 17-11-51.
Greenwich 8 16 13 11 — 40
Hoosic Valley 12 7 13 19 — 51
Three-point goals: Case, Linnett, Paul 3, McGreevy 3.
FORT EDWARD 43, FORT ANN 39
Thomas 7-4-18, Sardina 2-3-7, Godfrey 3-0-6, Sardina 0-2-2, Knapp 1-0-3, Taylor 2-0-4, Brockway 0-3-3. Totals: 15-12-43.
Bailey 2-0-5, Prosser 5-0-10, Foran 3-3-9, Batchelder 4-2-10, Mulcahy 1-1-4, Foran 0-1-1. Totals: 15-7-39.
Quarter scores unavailable.
Three-point goals: Knapp, Bailey, Mulcahy.