TROY — A program-best season concluded a step shy of the Class C girls’ basketball state championship game for Mekeel Christian Academy.
“It’s going to be [remembered as] a great thing for a long time,” Mekeel head coach Guy DeAngelis said of his team’s 2016-17 campaign. “It just hurts today.”
The Lions fell 60-49 Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College to Watkins Glen in the state semifinals, as a dismal shooting performance combined with a subpar defensive showing at the wrong time for Mekeel. For the game, Mekeel shot 15 of 48 (31.3 percent) from the field, 1 of 17 (5.9 percent) from 3-point territory and 18 of 31 (58.1 percent) from the foul line, while the Lions struggled to contain Watkins Glen’s multi-faceted offensive attack.
“We just missed so many defensive assignments,” DeAngelis said.
“They played better than we did,” Mekeel senior Jessie Show said of the Senecas.
The loss snapped a 24-game winning streak for Mekeel, which was making its first-ever appearance in the state semifinals. Mekeel (24-2) junior Liz Singleton led the Lions with 28 points, but Watkins Glen (Section IV, 21-2) had six players score at least eight points as it picked up its 11th consecutive win.
“Everything was working for them,” DeAngelis said of the Senecas, who advanced to Sunday’s title game against Section XI’s Port Jefferson. “That is a great team win for them because everybody contributed to that win for their team.”
Watkins Glen blitzed Mekeel to start the game. After a Singleton basket seconds into the contest, Watkins Glen surged ahead with a 9-0 run that senior Amanda Pike capped with a pair of 3-pointers. Pike’s shots were part of Watkins Glen making its first three 3s of the game, while Mekeel shot 0-for-6 from 3-point territory in the opening quarter.
After falling behind 22-12 minutes into the second quarter, Mekeel steadied itself and got back into the game with Singleton — who scored 15 points in the first half — carrying the Lions. Mekeel trailed 29-24 at halftime, but could never tie or take back the lead in the third quarter as Watkins Glen always seemed ready with a different scorer to throw at the Lions.
“We couldn’t find an answer,” DeAngelis said. “We tried everything.”
Things got away quickly in the fourth quarter for Mekeel, which had trailed 43-39 going into the final period. Struggling to find open shots and to take care of the ball, the Lions did not score in the fourth quarter until a Singleton free throw with 3:49 to go. That point put Watkins Glen’s lead at 52-40, and the Lions never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Singleton was named an all-tournament selection after her high-scoring game, while junior Rebekkah Dean added 13 points for Mekeel and Show had six. Junior Emilia Bond led Watkins Glen with 14 points.
Besides its 2-0 start, Mekeel never led in Saturday’s matchup.
“Even though we got down early in the game, we tried to keep fighting, fighting and fighting,” Singleton said. “Obviously, we didn’t get the win, but we never stopped fighting.”
Mekeel started its season with a loss to Class A foe Gloversville, then won its next 24 games before Saturday’s season-ending defeat. Show was the only senior on a team that will expect to contend again next season for Section II and state titles.
“It’s disappointing to get this far and to fall short,” Singleton said. “For sure, it’s going to sting for a while. But when you look back at the season, we did phenomenal. We did fantastic.”
LaMoreaux 0-2-2, Morse 2-4-9, Chedzoy 4-1-9, Pike 4-0-10, Bond 6-2-14, Kelly 3-2-8, Gonzalez 2-4-8. Totals: 21-15-60.
MEKEEL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
Dean 4-5-13, Ballard 1-0-2, J. Show 2-1-6, Singleton 8-12-28. Totals: 15-18-49.
Watkins 18 11 14 17 — 60
Mekeel 12 12 15 10 — 49
Three-point goals: Morse, Pike 2, J. Show.