GLENS FALLS — Shenendehowa girls’ basketball coach Joe Murphy was worried about falling behind against top-seeded Shaker in Saturday night’s Section II Class AA championship game.
After Alexandra Tudor turned a steal into a layup, and Cam Tooley scored down low, in the opening moments, it never happened.
“Our goal was to get out early,” Murphy said after the Plainsmen’s end-to-end 55-47 win at Glens Falls Civic Center. “When Shaker gets a lead they know how to keep it.”
Shenendehowa is pretty good at doing that, too. Just like in the semifinals against Columbia the No. 2-seeded Plainsmen (21-2) put together a wire-to-wire victory, this one including a key spurt early on to gain separation and a perfect free throw performance in the end.
“Before every game we say we have to start strong,” Tooley said. “That was our motto all year.”
Tooley and Tudor, the tournament most valuable player, scored 17 points apiece — just as the two juniors did in Monday’s 55-38 semifinal win.
Tudor’s layup capped a 6-0 first-quarter run after baskets down low by Sondra Slepski and Catherine Almeida as the Plainsmen pulled away from an 8-6 lead, and she nailed a trio of 3-point baskets in the second quarter to help her team go up 29-21 at the break.
“Our two players needed to play, and we needed the others to contribute in a meaningful way,” Murphy said. “They did with rebounds, defense and some big baskets.”
Shenendehowa graduated eight seniors from last season’s team that rallied late to beat Albany in the Section II final and used that triumph as a steppingstone toward the New York title game.
“The girls bought into the system, and since day one, they’ve played outstanding basketball,” Murphy said after Shenendehowa avenged a six-point loss to Shaker. “It culminated in a championship.”
Almeida finished with eight points and Simone Walker added six. Walker’s layup gave Shenendehowa a 40-27 lead after three quarters.
“It’s great,” Tudor said. “No one expected us to go so far. I was crying tears of joy.”
Tooley and Tudor, the team captains, put the finishing touches on the title-game win after Jules DeBeatham’s 3-pointer with 35 seconds left got Shaker within 49-47. Tooley followed with two free throws, Tudor knocked down two after the Blue Bison lost the ball out of bounds, and Tooley made two more after a travel call on Shaker.
“In the end, it got tight,” said Tooley, who went 8-for-9 from the line and had four assists and three steals, both game highs. “They made a couple of shots. We knew we had to stay calm and keep playing good defense and put the ball in the basket. Everyone stepped up.”
Shaker senior CeCe Mayo saved her best for the end, scoring 13 of her 19 points in the fourth frame, including a 3-pointer and a spinning drive to start it.
“This team has always answered the call,” Murphy said. “Shaker came back at us, and Cam and Ally stepped up.”
Tudor delivered 13 points in the first half.
“I was feeling it,” Tudor said. “Coach says if you’ve got an open shot, take it.”
Lexi DeBeatham scored eight points for Shaker (20-3), and Maddy Malicki and Shyla Sanford both had seven. Mayo, who had a game-high seven rebounds, Sanford and Tooley made the all-tournament team along with Dolly Cairns of Saratoga Springs and Selena Lott of Columbia.
Shenendehowa will play Section III champ West Genesee Saturday (time TBA) in a regional game at Onondaga Community College outside of Syracuse.
“No one had us projected to finish on top because of all the departures,” Tooley said.
Mayo 7-4-19, Sanford 2-2-7, L. DeBeatham 4-0-8, J. DeBeatham 2-0-5, M. Malicki 3-0-7, Ratigan 0-1-1. Totals: 18-7-47.
Tooley 4-8-17, 6-2-17, Almeida 3-2-8, Gillooley 1-2-4, Slepski 1-0-2, Drum 0-1-1, Walker 3-0-6. Totals: 18-15-55.
Shaker 9 12 6 20 — 47
Shenendehowa 14 15 11 15 — 55
Three-point goals: Mayo, Sanford, J. DeBeatham, M. Malicki, Tooley, Tudor 3.
TROY — Sophia and Lucille Tougas combined to equal the entire Tamarac team with 38 points as Glens Falls defeated the Bengals 50-38 for the
Section II Class B championship at Hudson Valley Community Center.
Sophia Tougas scored 25 points, and Lucille Tougas scored 13 as Glens Falls improved to 21-2.
Hannah Kreiger led Tamarac (22-2) with 12 points, and Emily Erickson scored 11.
Doody 2-0-5, Erickson 4-1-11, Henderson 2-1-5, Kreiger 4-1-12, Poulin 2-1-5. Totals: 14-4-38.
Hogan 2-0-5, Scarincio 3-1-7, L. Tougas 6-1-13, S. Tougas 8-6-25.
Tamarac 14 5 9 10 — 38
Glens Falls 16 14 6 14 — 50
Three-point goals: Doody, Erickson 2, Kreiger 3, Hogan, S. Tougas 3.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.