Colonie, Shaker meet for berth in AA finals

Colonie or Shaker.

One of these two girls basketball teams will advance to Saturday's Section II Class AA championship game.

Colonie and Shaker survived their quarterfinal games Saturday to reach Wednesday's Sectional semifinal at Hudson Valley Community College. Colonie thwarted Saratoga Springs' upset bid by pulling away for a 50-36 home victory, while Shaker needed overtime to upend Albany 63-60 at Colonie Central High School.

This is something we expected, said Shaker coach Emily Caschera. "We thought we were good enough to get to the semifinals. We played well against Queensbury [in the opening round] to prove it, and we played well against Albany to prove it."

There were times Saturday where the crosstown match-up was in jeopardy. Saratoga was within four points of Colonie (17-2) midway through the third quarter before the Lady Raiders got their offense rolling, and Shaker (16-4) had to go an extra four minutes to handle Albany.

"We had a long break [between games], and we just didn't play with the energy we needed to play with," said Colonie coach Heather Fiore. "We played well at times, but we were kind of flat."

"It was definitely a heart attack, but my kids played so hard and so well in overtime," said Caschera.

Free throws propelled Shaker into the semifinals " an ironic statement since the Blue Bison had trouble from the foul line in regulation (6-of-16). Shaker made five of its seven foul shots in overtime to stay one step ahead of Albany.

Shaker's defense also played a key role in extra time. The Blue Bison limited Albany's leading scorer, Emma Willingham-Hurst, to one point in overtime after she scored 26 points in regulation. The rest of the Falcons fared no better shooting the ball from the floor, as they managed only one basket over the four minutes.

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