TROY — Despite returning the bulk of its roster from last year’s Section II Class B championship team and capturing the Wasaren League championship this regular season, the Mechanicville girls’ basketball team somehow entered this year’s tournament under the radar.
If anything, that only made the team’s championship repeat even sweeter.
“This is like Christmas morning,” Mechanicville coach Blain Goverski said after his team held on for a 56-46 championship game win over Mekeel Christian Academy on Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College, “and being able to get up with all the excitement and be able to say you can share that with your family. This family of 12 girls has been unbelievable. To be able to see their smiles and what they’ve put in, all the hard work, it’s so amazing.”
Family was front and center for Mechanicville (No. 4, 19-5) in Saturday’s win, with Goverski’s daughters Charli and Chloe playing central roles.
Chloe Goverski, a sophomore guard, scored 11 of her 12 points in the first half to help Mechanicville get off to a red-hot start and lead by as many as 23 points. Older sister Charli, a senior guard, scored 11 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“My team, my whole family out there, there’s nothing better,” Charli Goverski said.
Mechanicville dominated the first half, leading 14-7 after the first quarter and closing the half on a 13-2 run to go up 35-14.
But Mekeel Christian (No. 3, 21-3) found its legs in the second half and slowly closed the gap. Mekeel Christian coach Kelsey Collins credited senior Jillian Ballard, a four-year varsity player and veteran of the team that captured the Class C area title in 2017, for helping to settle the Lions into a groove.
“Jill Ballard, she’s been a leader on this team for four years,” Collins said. “When everybody else was kind of shell-shocked and the moment was getting a little big for them, she’s been here before three times in a sectional final and she kind of got everybody calmed down and we made a little run.”
Mekeel got back within 43-30 by the end of the third quarter. With Mechanicville’s defense holding Mekeel’s star backcourt of Mikyla Mitchell and Avery Mills in check, the work of Ballard and Promise Mitchell on the interior kept the Lions in the game as they eventually pulled within 52-46 on a Maraya Davis free throw with 55.7 seconds to play.
Even as Mekeel made its run, Mechanicville’s confidence never wavered.
“They kept going, kept going, but we knew we had this,” Charli Goverski said. “We knew it was coming, we knew it was going to be a fight coming in here.”
Mechanicville made four free throws in the final minute to push the lead back to double digits, and Mekeel was unable to get any closer.
In addition to the combined 23 points from the Goverski sisters, Mechanicville got 12 points from AJ Joseph, 10 from Amy DiSiena and eight from Jada Brown.
Ballard scored 12 points for Mekeel Christian, with Promise Mitchell and Mills scoring 10 apiece.
“We had to grind it out, and we found a way,” Blain Goverski said. “The team has got great leaders … our seniors, everybody kind of had that leadership that gave the other girls that next level.”
Mechanicville will next play Section X champion Canton in the Class B regional semifinals Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Saratoga Springs High School.
Mechanicville 14 21 8 13 — 56
Mekeel Christian 7 7 16 16 — 46
Mechanicville scoring: Chl. Goverski 4-1-12, Cha. Goverski 4-2-11, Brown 4-0-8, DiSiena 3-4-10, Joseph 5-2-12, Cavotta 1-0-3. Mekeel Christian scoring: Mills 4-2-10, Galarneau 1-0-2, M. Mitchell 3-1-7, Ballard 5-2-12, Davis 2-1-5, P. Mitchell 5-0-10. Scoring totals: Mechanicville 21-9-56, Mekeel Christian 20-6-46.
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.