POTSDAM A late-season loss to an underdog Potsdam squad put things into postseason perspective for the Canton girls basketball team. And now Canton owns its first Section 10 Class C championship in 17 years.
It helped us a lot. It taught us that we have to keep working as hard as we can in every game and that teams arent just going to hand games to us, said senior Katie Christy after the Bears captured their first Section 10 Class C championship since 1996 with a 45-32 decision over St. Lawrence Central on Friday at SUNY Potsdams Jerry Welsh Gymnasium.
Last year we got to the championship game and we had no experience. This year, we came in better prepared, Christy added. We were in a little trouble early in the game but everybody just kept working hard. It feels awesome right now.
Cantons victory was the first of three championships Friday at SUNY Potsdam. In the Class D title game, Hammond defended its title with a 43-40 victory over Heuvelton. In the Class B final, Salmon River won its third straight sectional title by beating Ogdensburg Free Academy 52-47.
With the win over St. Lawrence, Canton earned a trip to the state Class C playoffs. The Bears also advanced to the Section 10 Overall Tournament with a chance to win for the first time since 1977.
I started working with this group since they were fourth, fifth and sixth-graders and its nice to see them progress to where they wanted to be, said coach Mike Myers.
The Bears (17-3) successfully followed up on their NAC Central Division regular season banner by outlasting the Larries through the first three quarters then putting them away with a 14-7 fourth-quarter surge.
St. Lawrence had us on the ropes in the first half but I thought our defense in the third quarter really set the tone. Our press wore them down and we started making our shots, Myers said. That loss to Potsdam really got us refocused. Weve already seen in the playoffs that the top seed doesnt always win and that we had to be ready to come out and play all four quarters tonight. Its a nice feeling.
The Larries were also looking to end a lengthy sectional title drought that dates back to the mid-1970s but after a strong start where they built a 10-3 lead through the first 3 minutes, 16 seconds of the game, they only managed another 15 points for the next two-and-a-half quarters and were unable to keep pace with the Canton offense in the fourth.
Coach told us before the game that we had to keep pushing the ball up the court the whole game and make this a track meet, said Christy, who anchored a balanced Canton offense with a game-high 12 points.
According to Chad Gauthier, who was brought in as head coach of the Larries the week before the regular season after his predecessor, Ryan White, vacated the position to begin attending New York State Police Academy, the Canton strategy worked.
We fought hard but just didnt have the bench and on a big court like this, its something you have to have, he said. Its been at least 30 years since St. Lawrence girls basketball has won sectionals. Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make it here to this game and we were here.
Senior forward Samantha Richards worked the paint for 10 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Larries (10-10).
The Bears will take on Class A champion Massena in the second semifinal game on Tuesday. Class B champion Salmon River and Class D champion Hammond will meet in the first game of the night. The overall final is slated for Friday at 5 p.m. All three games are slated for Jerry Welsh Gymnasium.
The Bears will then open the state Class C tournament at 6 p.m. March 3, at SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury against a yet-to-be determined Section 2 champion.
SALMON RIVER 52, OFA 47
From the worst of times to the best of times.
Salmon River crossed that chasm to defeat OFA and win its third straight Section 10 Class B Championship in the third of three title games.
The Shamrocks (15-5) claimed the coveted trifecta by totally reversing the flow of a one-sided loss at OFA three weeks ago.
Salmon River coach Karen Francis said it was a matter of fundamentals and correcting mistakes that allowed the Shamrocks to reverse two losses to the Blue Devils in NAC Division play.
We really did a good job switching our defenses tonight. We had to do that because OFA has such great 3-point shooters, Francis said. And we were very patient with the ball when we ran our offense. We got some nice baskets inside and we also cut down our turnovers.
The Shamrocks grabbed a 13-11 lead on a 3-pointer by Abby Kelly at the end of the first quarter and led the rest of the contest.
An inside conversion by Taylor Francis created the biggest margin, at 43-34 midway through the fourth quarter, and Kelly capped a 25-point outing by hitting four straight free throws in the final 1:13 to deny the Devils (14-6) who received two long 3-pointers by Riley Luckie and Meg Dodge to fuel a rally down the stretch.
Dodges second three of the quarter cut the lead to 50-47 with 12.6 seconds to play, but Kelly sealed the issue with two free throws with six seconds remaining.
Kelly said that the third sectional title was very special after the Shamrocks weathered a superb shooting performance by Luckie who went 4-for-6 from well beyond the arc, scoring 20. Felicia Barr added 11 points with 11 rebounds.
This was such a great win because it came from everyone. We worked all week on running our plays and we did a great job, said Kelly who consistently converted in the lane off nice bounce passes and delivered six rebounds, five steals and four assists. Our forwards really did a great job tonight, they really hit the boards.
Aliyah Cook grabbed 15 rebounds and and Kwiio King tallied 11 points with eight rebounds for Salmon River. Taylor Francis finished eight points, four steals and two blocks.
Salmon River played very hard tonight and they really outrebounded us, said OFA coach Lynn Blevins. We made a lot of mini runs but just when it appeared we would get over the top they got key baskets.
HAMMOND 43, HEUVELTON 40
In the Class D final, the Red Devils needed a little luck and resiliency down the stretch to overcome the Bulldogs upset bid to defend their sectional title.
Hammonds Alyssa Crosby later closed out the second quarter with two free throws to give the Red Devils a 16-11 halftime lead.
The lead grew to seven three times in the third quarter but Heuveltons Maddie St. Pierre, Logan Tallman and Paige McCormick scored seven straight to tie the game at 28-28 with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter.
With 5:30 left in fourth, Paige McCormick gave Heuvelton a 32-31 lead. Later in the quarter, Crosby scored on a rebound putback for a 37-34 lead but McCormick answered for Heuvelton.
Alexis Weidner gave Heuvelton a 38-37 lead with 1:10 to play but Crosby who scored 13 fourth quarter points made it 39-38. Heuvelton had a chance to tie at the foul line but missed and Gabby Marshall sank two free thrios for a 41-38 lead with 26.9 left. Crosby who finished 5-for-8 at the foul line in the fourth, made it 43-38 before Weidner hit a outside basket at the buzzer.
Crosby finished with 13 of her 28 points in the fourth quarter for Hammond. She also had 15 rebounds and four steals.
Paige McCormick, an eighth-grader, and Logan Tallman each scored nine points for Heuvelton. Alexis Weidner added seven points, five rebounds and four steals. Maddie St. Pierre added seven boards.