It isn’t often a group gets the chance to be the first to do something in a school that dates back to 1976. But the Mekeel Christian Academy girls' basketball team did just that Tuesday night with their 55-33 victory over Cambridge in the Section II Class C semifinals at Cohoes High School.
“This is the first time we’ve ever been at this stage in school history,” said Mekeel head coach Guy DeAngelis. “I’m really excited for that opportunity for our girls because they’re a great group. They deserve this opportunity.”
The Lions last reached a sectional championship game in 2006, back when they played in Class CC. Despite not reaching this stage since moving up a division, standout junior forward Jesse Show has been thinking about this game since the fall.
“We had to write down goals at the beginning of the season,” Show said, “and making the championship was one of my goals.”
Show had a lot to say about that on Tuesday; she dominated the game from start to finish, tallying 21 points and nailing five three-pointers.
“Her energy, her attitude, everything she brings as a player is just awesome,” DeAngelis said. “She really is one of the driving forces of our team.”
“It’s a team game,” Show said. “You need five players on the court to win. I got open as a result of my teammates.”
“Jesse did her part,” sophomore point guard Elizabeth Singleton said.
The Lions came out firing early in the first quarter. Show and senior center Rebekkah Dean combined for four three-pointers on one end, while Mekeel used a combination of zone defenses to stifle the Cambridge attack on the other. Show’s third three of the quarter pushed the Lions’ lead to eight at the end of the first.
A pair of buckets by Cambridge made it 14-10 early in the second, but senior center Olivia Mooney picked up her second foul early in quarter, and the Indians’ defense fell apart after that.
Show ripped the ball away from a Cambridge attacker and proceeded to drain a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, making Mekeel’s lead 22-11 midway through the quarter.
The Cambridge crowd picked up the decibels in an effort to slow down the Lions’ offense, but Mekeel extended its lead to 29-14 at the end of the half.
“You love to see that kind of school spirit,” DeAngelis said.
Dean pushed the Lions’ lead to 21 with a pair of three-pointers to open the third quarter. Show picked up two fouls within the span of a minute midway through the third, but the rest of the team picked up the slack; Lexy Rychcik scored eight of her 10 points in the second half, despite being poked in the eye late in the fourth quarter.
The final eight minutes were a formality, but the Lions’ coaching staff wouldn’t let their team fall asleep on the competition. The three-point show continued, as Mekeel pushed its team total to 11 by the end of the night, Dean and Show combining for nine.
“We ran into a tough team,” Cambridge head coach Tony Bochette said. “They shot the lights out.”
Emotions ran high on the other side. Bochette picked up a technical with 6:52, frustrated with the referee’s calls. A season-ending loss for Cambridge also meant the final games for four seniors.
“It was very emotional for those seniors,” said Bochette. “This group has been a family.”
G. Snyder 1-0-2, L. Snyder 3-1-7, L. Nolan 2-0-6, B. Nolan 1-0-3, Brownell 0-5-5, Dupuis 1-0-2. Totals: 11-8-33.
MEEKEL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
Dean 5-0-14, J. Show 6-4-21, L. Singleton 1-2-5, Rychcik 3-3-10, M. Show 0-3-3, Aramo 0-2-2. Totals: 15-14-55.
Cambridge 6 8 9 10 — 33
MCA 14 15 13 13 — 55
Three-point goals: L. Nolan 2, B. Nolan, Dean 4, J. Show 5, Rychik, Singleton.