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Bethlehem avenges loss to Shen with championship victory

The writer is a Spotlight Newspaper intern and a student at Bethlehem Central High School.

With 11.3 seconds left in last Saturday's Section II, Class AA final at Hudson Valley Community College, Bethlehem's Megan Olsen is at the free throw line. The Lady Eagles have a three-point lead and are close to avenging last year's loss to Shenendehowa.

Olsen misses the first free throw, and the Shen crowd goes wild.

The building quiets again. Olsen begins to shoot, everything goes into slow motion. You can taste the tension in the air.

The shot is up, it's over the rim and it is in, like a dagger through the Plainsmen's heart.

Bethlehem wins the title 46-42.

It's unbelievable. We finally did it, said senior center Alex McCullough. "It feels great."

But let's start at the beginning.

"Welcome to the main event," booms over the P.A. system as the game gets underway. Shen quickly builds a four-point lead, but then something clicks with Bethlehem's offense. The Lady Eagles (18-6) go on a 13-0 run to grab an eight-point advantage.

The Plainsmen (18-5) don't back down. They come back with six consecutive points to end the quarter down only 13-10.

As the second quarter starts, it's clear that the Plainsmen do not have anyone big enough to stop McCullough, who scores 13 of her 14 points in the first half to help Bethlehem build a 29-20 halftime lead.

Starting the second half nine points down seemed to energize the Plainsmen, who came out of the locker room on fire and cut Bethlehem's lead to five points. They also find an answer for McCullough: get her into foul trouble. The only problem was Shen has even fewer answers for McCullough's back-up, Rosie McKee, who scored eight points and contributed four offensive rebounds.

"Rosie had a great game coming up with rebounds and hitting big shots," said Olsen.

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