Saranac seniors Stephanie Linder, Alisha Ducatte, Morgan Maye, Victoria Phaneuf and Katie Gates watch during the final minutes of the Lady Chiefs loss against Irvington.
The Saranac Lady Chiefs run at a state championship was ended March 16 with a 64-31 loss at the hands of Section I champ Irvington.
The Lady Bulldogs held a 21-0 lead to open the game that the Chiefs were never able to overcome.
“I’m not saying that we got caught up in all of the hoopla this week, but that was no our typical start,” head coach Tim Newell said. “You have to give credit to them as well, but we had a tough time on defense and their defense did not allow us to get set in the half court.”
Newell said that the team fought hard throughout the game, but came up against a better opponent in Irvington.
“It was not a lack of effort,” he said. “They surprised us with how physical they were and they were able to break out.”
“They are by far the number one team out there,” senior Stephanie Linder said. “You could not stop their inside game, they distributed the ball well and played great defense. We knew what they could do, and they had a great game.”
Linder finished with 10 points and five rebounds in the game, while Emma Newell and Alisha Ducatte each scored five points. Morgan Maye had three points and five rebounds, while Kristen Napper, Brooke Layhee and Victoria Phaneuf each scored two points (Phaneuf added five rebounds). Kayla Napper and Katie Gates each scored one.
Newell said that he was proud of his five seniors in Linder, Phaneuf, Ducatte, Maye and Gates.
“They are the reason why we made it this far,” the coach said. “They have been a team from fifth-grade on and when they came out of the game, that is what I told them along with I considered them to be a second family and I love them like daughters.”
“I am so proud of the girls on this team,” Linder said. “To get here is amazing. We have been together since third-and-fourth grade and no one can take that away from us and the way that we worked hard all the time for each other.”
Newell said that, while the farewells were tough, the team could look forward to another solid season with players like Kayla Napper, Kristen Napper and others returning.
“They are real coachable and intelligent young players,” he said. “They do everything correct, but we will need to develop that offensive confidence that Linder and Ducatte had for us this season.”
“They have a great group and I think they have all of this to look forward to again,” Linder said.
The Chiefs finished the season at 23-1, capturing the Section VII and Region II Class B titles. After the game, Ducatte was awarded with the sportsmanship award and Linder was named to the Final Four Tournament team.