ADAMS A trying season came to a heartbreaking conclusion for the South Jefferson girls basketball team Tuesday night.
DaShea Jones drained a pair of free throws with 3.4 seconds left to lift 10th-seeded Altmar-Parish-Williamstown to a 38-37 victory over the No. 2 Spartans in the Section 3 Class B quarterfinals.
It is just the second time in the past 13 years that South Jeffersons season ended before the sectional championship game.
We had to execute a little better than we did tonight, South Jefferson coach Pat Bassett said. We had some uncharacteristic turnovers but a lot of that was due to A-P-Ws physicality and their toughness and athleticism. They played a great game.
The Rebels improved to 13-7 and will play No. 3 Westhill in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Onondaga Community College.
Kylee Bartlett scored a game-high 20 points to lead A-P-W. She stole an inbound pass with 8.2 seconds left to set up Joness game-winning free throws, and converted a 3-point play to cut South Jeffersons lead to 37-36 with 48 seconds left.
Im overjoyed, A-P-W coach Michelle Whitley said. The kids played a really great game. They did exactly what we planned on doing, just a few hiccups here and there on the road. I wish we could have played better offense but we did what we needed to do.
The Spartans ended their season at 19-1. With the exception of a quarterfinals loss in 2011, the Spartans have advanced to every sectional final the past 13 seasons, including an overtime loss in last years title game at the Carrier Dome. They have nine sectional championships in that span.
On Tuesday, South Jefferson fell behind 18-2 with five minutes left in the second quarter but fought back to tie the game at 19 apiece at halftime.
South Jefferson senior and leading scorer Austin Stevens was held without a point until there were 56 seconds left in the first half. But she engineered an 8-0 run in the final minute to even the score headed into the locker room.
She hit a pair of free throws, then came up with a steal and a three-point play and capped off the run with a high-arching 3-point field goal right before the buzzer.
I think that first quarter is really what killed us because we hung with them the rest of the game, said Stevens, who finished with 11 points.
It was a tough game, they are well-coached and they had great energy in this game. It was a tough start, that 16-2 start was not good.
Sophomore Quincy Zimmerman played through early foul trouble and scored the first eight points to keep South Jefferson afloat early. She finished with a team-high 14.
Thats a team youre never going to hold down because theyre too good to do that to, said Whitley, whose team formerly competed in the Frontier League until 2013. We knew they were going to try to make a run. The difference was that we had a few defensive lapses and we stopped putting the ball in the hole.
The Spartans reached the sectional quarterfinals unbeaten for the fifth straight year despite a chaotic season.
Bassett was mysteriously put on administrative leave for a week in mid-December that prompted a public rally at a Board of Education meeting to support his status as head coach.
The team cancelled three games during that stretch, and with weather postponements scattered through the season, played 15 times in less than five weeks, including a stretch of five games in seven days in the first week of February.