LAKE GEORGE - The qualities that propelled the Lake George Girls Basketball team to success throughout this season - teamwork, relentless defense and aggressive, smart play - were in full force Friday night as the team won the Adirondack League Championship title.
This league championship was Lake George's sixth in a row.
In this 33-24 victory over Whitehall at the Glens Falls Civic Center, the Warriors stayed undefeated in the league at 13-0, and atop a lineup of teams regionally with their 18-2 record.
To accomplish the gritty, hard-fought victory, Lake George charged out to an early 10-2 lead and used tough defense to keep ahead of the Railroaders.
The two teams, known for their physical matchups, made each other earn each basket.
Evidence of the intensity of the contest includes the fact that two of Lake George's top players - Meagan Stover and Sara Anderson - faced foul trouble in the second period, during which the Railroaders cut the Lake George lead to three points.
Warrior Coach Rob Tefft said that the hot hands of several of his players - Katie Flaherty, Sara Anderson and Brittany Jones - created the early momentum that set the stage for the big win.
"We got some easy looks early," he said.
When Stover returned to the floor in the third quarter, she dominated offensively, scoring 11 of 13 of her points in the second half, Tefft said.
But defense was key to the win, Tefft said. Using a zone defense, the team held Whitehall standout Brittany St. Clair to two baskets for the game - a season low - by repeatedly trapping her, and getting into the Railroaders passing lanes, Tefft said.
The game had about 20 turnovers for each team, a testament to the defensive intensity.
Tefft said everyone contributed to the big win.
"Brittany Baker handled the ball well, Brittany Jones hit a couple of big jump shots, and we got big-time minutes off the bench from Caroline Murphy and Kelly Flaherty," he said.
While the girls can savor a perfect League record for 2008-09, Tefft can enjoy a perfect career league record.
This league championship was the sixth in the six years Tefft has been coaching.
But asked about his multi-year run, the lanky, modest coach deferred the credit to his players.
"I attribute it to the kids - they play hard and put a lot of time into the game, and they just keep coming back every year," he said.
During Tefft's tenure, his teams have won one sectional title, been to the sectional finals twice, and to the sectional semifinals four times.
"We've had quite a run," Tefft said.
Tefft's 2008-09 team is not only exhibiting the strengths Tefft likes to develop in teams - working the ball inside, protecting the basketball and rebounding aggressively, but the squad is taking it further, he said.
"The kids work hard in practice and get along well and accomplish things as a team," he said, noting the group practiced through summers. "They're the most unselfish team I've ever coached."
Monday, sectional tournaments were just days away, and seedings were to be announced Wednesday.
The Warriors were either scheduled to play Wednesday Feb. 25 or Saturday Feb. 28 if they are awarded a bye.
In addition to Stover's 13 points, Sara Anderson and Brittany Jones tallied six each, Brittany Baker and Caroline Murphy scored three each, and Katie Flatley scored two. For rebounds, Katie Flatley grabbed six, Stover tallied five, Anderson and Jones had four, and Baker had three and Murphy, Maggie Miele and Kelly Flaherty had two each.