TROY – The run is done.
The Salmon River girls ended their 2012-13 basketball season with a Final Four loss to Section 5 champion Waterloo, 65-53, on Friday at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B semifinal at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
Early turnovers in the opening quarter aided in the season-ending setback, as Waterloo broke away from an 8-8 tie, moved in front 14-8 and never lost the lead the rest of the way to advance to Saturdays championship game against the top-ranked Irvington contingent, which earned its bid to the final via a 55-53 victory over Oneonta in Fridays opening game at HVCC.
Despite falling behind, Salmon River continued to drive the ball to the basket, but the superior height of the two Waterloo forwards, Lauren Deming and Lindsay Johnson, collected missed shots or altered solid looks, doing the damage inside, while sharp-shooting guard Chelsea Steinruck answered almost every time the Shamrocks cut into the Indians lead.
Waterloo held an 18-13 lead after the first quarer, with Salmon River cutting its deficit in the second quarter to two points, 18-16 as Abby Kelly tossed in her first of two 3-pointers in the state contest. But Steinruck answered the call with a pair of treys to push the Waterloo lead back to eight points, 24-16.
SRCs Kwiio King pulled the Shamrocks to within three points, 24-21, only to have the Indians match the Shamrocks point for point to close the first half with a 31-27 lead.
Waterloo opened the third quarter by increasing their lead to nine points. Taylor Francis tossed in a 3-pointer to cut the SRC deficit back to six points and with the Indians keeping its lead throughout the the third. Kellys second triple of the game just prior to the buzzer at the end of the third quarter left Waterloo with a cushion of six, 46-40, with eight minutes remaining.
Salmon River switched from its collapsing zone defense in the fourth quarter, trying a man-to-man approach as well as a full-court press. But the switches were for not, as the Indians had an answer for each and every deployment - the Indians big three of Deming, Johnson and Steinruck.
Deming, who at six foot, ran the point for the majority of the game as well as driving through the lane and collected most of the teams 27 rebounds, posting a double-double with 12 boards. Johnson, Waterloos other six-footer, led all scorers with 26 points and pulled down eight caroms while Steinruck did the damage from the outside, nailing four of the teams five treys, finishing with 15 points.
Steinruck killed us from the outside and we had trouble competing down low with their two big girls, pointed out Salmon River Head Coach Karen Francis.
This game is bittersweet, continued the coach. We are all sad with the fact that we didnt win, but at the same time, this team went further than any other in Section 10. Of that, we are overjoyed.
Salmon River had four players reach double figures in scoring with Aliyah Cook leading the way with 15 points, shooting six for 10 from the field and two of four from the foul line.
Kelly and King both finished with 11 points while Jaiden Mitchell capped the season with 10 points, sinking two of the seven 3-pointers by the SRC contingent. Taylor Francis also connected for a pair of buckets from beyond the arc to account for the other six points for the Shamrocks.
SRC senior Zaagaate Jock also logged playing time, filling in down low when foul trouble began to creep up on the Shamrocks.
Salmon River finished the season with a 17-7 record, claiming the Section 10 Class B title for the third straight season along with the schools first-ever Class B Region 2 championship.
The troubling fact for the rest of the Northern Athletic Conference, and especially the Central Division, is that the core of the Shamrocks returns in force, as all five starters are only juniors althhough Kelly, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her varsity career midway through the season, will reportedly leave to attend prep school and not compete at SRC her senior year.