Sierra Snow and Haley Taylor of AuSable Valley box out against Princella McCullogh and Emanuella Edoka of Bishop Kearney in the Class C state semifinals March 16.
The AuSable Valley Lady Patriots came back against Bishop Kearney twice in the Class C NYSPHSAA semifinals March 16 at Hudson Valley Community College.
They needed a third.
Meghan Strong scored six of her team-high 14 points in the third quarter to turn a 28-21 deficit into a lead midway through the third quarter against the Lady Kings.
It was the Kings that would own the final eight minutes of play, outscoring the Patriots 15-2 and, ending their season in the Final Four with a 56-41 defeat.
“We talked at halftime about needing to get that first run of the second half and get back into the game,” head coach Roger Long said. “They exerted a lot of energy in that third period to get back into it, and I think that showed in the fourth.”
The Patriots connected on only one of 14 from the field in the last quarter, while 4-of-7 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free throw line. Overall, the Lady Kings went to the line 25 times, while AuSable Valley only got two attempts in the first quarter from Taylor Saltus.
As expected, the Kings used their height advantage, outscoring the Patriots 30-12 in the paint, led by Emamuella Edoka’s 14 points.
However, it was a pair of threes from the 6’2” center that hurt AuSable going into halftime.
“We hit a three right before half to close the gap, and she came down and answered on the other end,” Long said.
The Kings grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, while the Patriots held their own with 11 offensive boards and 27 overall rebounds to Bishop-Kearney’s 34.
“We put a zone defense in this week, and I was concerned because when you are in zone you can have issues with boxing out at times,” Long said. “I knew that they were going to come out and try to trap our guards, so we set our screens up high and tried to free up Meghan for one-on-one matchups. Our runners just did not fall.”
After the game, Long said that the team had represented their section well and played a hard game.
“The kids have worked for it all year,” he said. “This was a new experience for all of them. I am really excited for this team. The experience of coming here is going to help them tremendously.”
Meghan Strong finished her sophomore season with 14 points to go with three steals and a pair of assists. Strong will enter her junior year as the Patriots’ three-point career leader, having connected on 98 long-distance attempts. She will also have an outside shot of joining the 1,000-point club, having amassed 616 points in her first three years of varsity.
Playing in her final game for the Patriots, Haley Taylor added eight points, seven rebounds and three steals to the AVCS effort, while fellow senior Sierra Snow added six points, six rebounds and three steals.
“They have both come in and worked from the first time they stepped on a varsity court,” Long said. “They have been great leaders during their time with me, and I’m going to miss them.”
Madison Rondeau added five points and three rebounds, with Taylor Saltus scoring five points to go with two assists and Logan Snow scoring three points along with three rebounds and two steals.
“We are going to work on getting better in the off season,” Long said. “Hopefully, this will give them that drive to want to play here next year.”
The Patriots ended their record-setting season with a 19-3 mark, becoming the first team from their school to make the Final Four in girls basketball. Logan Snow was awarded the sportsmanship award for her performance in the semifinals, while Strong was named to the all-tournament team.
For Bishop Kearney, Skyler Gausney-Jones scored 23 points, 16 in the second half, to lead the Kings. Edoka scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half, while Kharysma Bryant scored 11. Arianne Smith, Sheila Hawkes and Princella McCullough each scored four points.
The Kings went on to defeat Harpursville, 54-44, to claim the Class C state title.