AVERILL PARK — Survive and advance.
In Tuesday night's Section II Class B girls' semifinals, Mekeel Christian Academy and Mechanicville both raced out to sizable leads, but then saw it dwindle, if not evaporate.
However, Mekeel Christian and Mechanicville managed to survive a pair of comebacks to advance to Saturday's 12:45 p.m. championship game at Hudson Valley Community College.
Mekeel Christian needed overtime to get past a tenacious Johnstown squad 67-57, and Mechanicville held off top-seeded Schalmont 53-48.
Mekeel Christian (No. 3, 21-2) took 10-point first quarter lead against Johnstown (No. 7, 13-10). The Lady Bills slowly chipped away at the lead.
Johnstown tied the contest in the opening minute of the fourth quarter and took its only lead of the contest, 54-53, on the back half of Jaden Wilson's pair of free throws with 17 seconds left.
Mekeel knotted it at 54-54 on a free throw by Mikyla Mitchell with 13 seconds left.
"We were playing uphill the whole way," Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. "We missed some bunnies on that last little scramble there, but that's the way it is. It's a testament to their character to battle, battle, they never quit. They could have folded early, they had that look in their face, but they didn't."
Mekeel came out aggressive and effective in overtime, limiting the Lady Bills to just three points on 3-of-8 shooting.
"I think we felt like we could push it over the top in overtime," Derwin said. "We came out and scored the first basket, and then it spiraled the other way."
Mitchell continued her game-saving efforts, scoring eight of the Lions' 13 points in overtime, with eighth-grader Avery Mills dropping in five of her game-high 31 points.
"This game really built some character, going to the line, hitting that foul shot," Mekeel coach Kelsey Collins said. "That was the one we needed, if she doesn't make that and misses the second one our season is over."
Another highlight on the night was Johnstown junior Anna Lee scoring her 1,000th career point during the third quarter.
"A lot of people were trying to keep it from me, so I didn't know, but my dad ended up saying something to one of my friends and I overhead it," Lee said. "It's hard not to think about when you're in the game. You just want to focus and get the job done, but [it] was lingering a little bit. At the end of the day, I just wanted to win."
She finished with 12 points, giving her 1,003 in her career.
"I've worked pretty much my whole life for it and to just be able to get it here at the semifinals, I couldn't have done it without my teammates," Lee said. "They are the ones who drive me every day to be a better basketball player."
Despite the loss, the future looks bright for the Lady Bills, losing just Amber Tesi to graduation in June.
"They just got away from us, which really stinks because we wanted to go so bad [to HVCC], we have so much heart," Lee said. "Just to see it end in overtime like that, it stinks, but we're ready to bring it next year."
MECHANICVILLE HOLDS OFF SCHALMONT
Mechanicville coach Blaine Goverski has been preparing himself for his final conversation with his team and its five seniors, whenever that date may come, but it wasn't going to be Tuesday night.
Mechanicville (No. 2, 18-5) roared out to a 35-17 halftime lead against Schalmont (No. 1, 21-2) but a choppy third quarter and a series of 3-pointers from sophomore Payton Graber almost made Goverski's farewell speech necessary.
"We wanted to come out and have a really good third quarter, we got to keep on playing hard, but then I think the fouls kind of got us in trouble," Goverski said. "It kind of put us on our heels, had to be a little cautious, we weren't playing as aggressive in transitioning as we could."
Mechanicville was led by Charlie Goverski's 20 points with Schalmont's Siena Hallberg dropping in 17 followed by Karissa Antoine added another 14.
MEKEEL CHRISTIAN 67, JOHNSTOWN 57 (OT)
Mekeel Christian 21 13 10 10 13 – 67
Johnstown 11 16 13 14 3 – 57
Mekeel Christian scoring: Mills 12-5-31, M. Mitchell 6-6-19, Ballard 0-3-3, Davis 1-3-6, P. Mitchell 4-0-8. Johnstown scoring: Wilson5-4-16, Lee 4-1-12, A. Sasaki 1-2-4, K. Sasaki 0-3-3, VandeWalker 5-2-16, Tesi 1-1-3, Chest 1-0-3. Scoring totals: Mekeel Christian Johnstown 17-13-57.
MECHANICVILLE 53, SCHALMONT 48
Schalmont 4 13 11 20 – 48
Mechanicville 15 20 6 12 – 53
Schalmont scoring: Hallberg 4-7-17, Antoine 5-3-14, Kindlon 1-0-2, Burchardt 4-3-11, Lenehan 1-2-4. Mechanicville Brown 1-0-2, Cha. Goverski 8-3-20, DiSiena 3-0-6, Chl. Goverski 3-2-9, Joseph 5-1-11, Cavotta 2-0-5. Scoring totals: Schalmont 15-15-48, Mechanicville 22-6-53.