SCHROON LAKE - The Wildcats are heading to sectionals with momentum.
The Schroon Lake varsity boys and girls basketball teams each advanced to the Mountain and Valley Athletic Conference Championship game with wins over Westport Feb. 16 (80-44 boys, 39-36 girls), while splitting results in the title games Feb. 18, with the boys scoring a 55-48 win over Johnsburg, but the girls falling, 48-36, to Indian Lake/Long Lake.
As a result, the boys will have the top seed in the Section VII/Class D tournament. The girls, while beating the Lady Eagles in the MVACDivision I/II playoff, will be the three seed behind the Orange and the Eagles.
The Feb. 16 playoff games, moved from the previous day due to issues with the baskets at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, started off with the Wildcat boys trailing Westport 3-2 before going on a 30-2 run that propelled them to a 48-15 halftime lead.
Jesse Shaughnessy scored early and often for the Wildcats in the first half, hitting four three-pointers and 19 first half points, finishing with 23 points, five assists and five steals.
Anthony Vanderwalker added 15 points and four rebounds for the Wildcats, while Uriah Harvey combined 13 points and 10 rebounds with three blocked shots. Ian Williams scored six points, while Matt Savarie added five points and Lance Paradis scored four points.
Bobby Rose, in his first career varsity game, scored five points and pulled down five rebounds.
For the Eagles, Liam Davis combined 21 points with 10 rebounds, while Kevin Russell scored 12 points and David Quaglietta scored six points. Russell led the team with two assists, while Will Adams recorded a pair of steals.
"We would not have been here if we hadn't improved throughout the season," Eagles head coach Michael "Ike" Tyler said after the game. "We started off losing seven straight, but then we got on a three game streak and beat the teams in our division. If you can improve throughout the season, that is all you can ask for as a coach."
In the girls game, the Lady Wildcats jumped out to a 21-13 halftime lead, which would not hold as the Lady Eagles shot 8-for-11 from the field in the third quarter to take a 31-26 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
"We knew that it was going to happen," Wildcats head coach Lee Silvernail said. "We talked about it at halftime that this team was going to go on a run. We knew that we were going to have to play the full game if we were going to have a chance."
In the fourth quarter, Jocelyn Bowen scored seven of her game-high 25 points in the final two minutes of the game, connecting on a three-pointer off an assist from Kate Rose to cut the Westport lead to 36-35, then hitting four straight free throws with 39.0 and 2.3 seconds remaining, respectively, to put the game away.
"In one of the timeouts, I turned to her and said that this was the time where she needed to take over," Silvernail said. "Tonight, she played her best game, start to finish."
"I spend forever taking foul shots to be ready for moments like this," Bowen said. "When I came up to the line, I was thinking that this was my time for revenge because in our last game, I missed the shots that could have given us the lead."
The Eagles had a chance to take the lead late, but a 12-foot jumper by Willa McKinley bounced off the front of the rim.
"She could have hit that, and we had a lot of good looks in this game," Eagles head coach Hokey McKinley said. "Other than the third quarter, we shot the ball bad. When those nights happen, you have to rely on your defense to keep you in the game and tonight, we came up short."
For the Lady Wildcats, Ashley Subra added six points and 10 rebounds, while Rebecca Armstrong scored five points to go with 10 rebounds. Both Subra and Armstrong had three assists, while Subra added two blocked shots and Lizz Bessey recorded a pair of steals.
McKinley and Christina Sherman each scored eight points for the Lady Eagles, with Sherman adding five assists and McKinley had three steals. Nancy Armitage had six points and six rebounds, while Allison Sherman scored six points and had the lone blocked shot for the Eagles.