The Section VII/Class C and Region II Class C champion AuSable Valley Patriots. From left: Meghan Strong, Taylor Saltus, Bryce Douglass, Madison Rondeau, Logan Snow, Sierra Snow, Haley Taylor, Vanessa Garrow, Nicole SantaMaria, Shelby Bourgeois, Sydney Snow, Madison McCabe, Jeanna Manning and Rachel Knapp.
At the beginning of their practice March 11, Roger Long put the accomplishments of his AuSable Valley Lady Patriots basketball team into perspective.
"You are one of only four teams left out of 156 Class C schools in the state," he told his team. "There are only 20 teams playing basketball this weekend out of 750 schools throughout the state. Everyone is going to be really good at this level."
Indeed, that includes the Lady Patriots (19-2), who proved just how good they were when they scored a 48-43 victory over top-ranked and defending state champion Hoosic Valley March 9.
"Our philosophy is that you are not going to shut down a scorer, but you have to be able to shut the players down around that scorer," Long said about the game plan against the Indians.
The plan worked as Cassidy Chapko scored 29 points, more than half of her team’s total offense, as the rest of the Indians squad was held to 14 points.
"We were able to shut down the MVP of the Section II playoffs," Long said about Kim Kocienski, who did not score in the game.
For the Patriots, Logan Snow led the team with 20 points, including seven straight during a key 9-0 run in the second period.
"There is no question that she stepped up for us," Long said. "She took advantage of the spacing on the floor and made some difficult shots that ignited our run."
Meghan Strong added nine points, while Taylor Saltus scored seven, Madison Rondeau six, Madison McCabe three, Sierra Snow two and Haley Taylor one.
Long said that he was pleased his team was able to win and advance to the state final four, where they will play Section V's Bishop Kearney Saturday, March 16, at 2:15 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
"I am extremely proud of the girls and the opportunity that has been put in front of them," Long said. "It is a trip that I will be able to enjoy through them. They deserve to be here."
Long said that the week of preparation started out Monday, March 11, dealing with things like media requests and paperwork required by the state.
"We have had to deal with paperwork, hotel plans, bus scheduling, roster forms, setting up practice times and everything else that we need to be ready for when we get down there," Long said. "The rest of the week is about working on the things we need to do based on the personnel that we are going to see."