Experience prevailed over youth in last Saturday's Section II Class AA girls basketball final.
Shenendehowa built a big lead and fended off a late charge by Shaker to pull out a 47-42 victory at Hudson Valley Community College.
It is Shen's 10th Section II title under head coach Ken Strube, who earned his 550th career win.
The beauty of each one of these is that they've been spread out a bit [over the years], except for that period [of four consecutive championships] in the early 1990s, said Strube. "So, it's been nice to celebrate these titles with different groups of girls."
This particular group of Shen girls have been to the Sectional final each of the last three years, which gave them an experience edge over a young Shaker squad that wasn't alive the last time the Blue Bison had reached the finals (1986).
Shaker (17-5) made up for its lack of experience with heart and determination. The Blue Bison rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to pull within three points with less than 30 seconds left before Emily Weber and Meg Rogers sealed Shen's victory with clutch free throws.
"I was hoping we could get the tie and force overtime," said Shaker coach Emily Caschera. "I thought we did well at the end. We just came up a little short."
"They didn't go away at all," said Shen junior forward Allie Setter. "It was horrifying, but we always seem to [win]."
Both teams had some early game jitters to work through. Shen (20-2) hit some free throws to get started, and then Weber canned a pair of three-pointers to help the Plainsmen build a 12-4 lead.
Shaker's offense worked in fits and spurts against Shen's defense. The Blue Bison made a charge in the second quarter when Adrianne Devine and Erica Houle hit consecutive three-pointers to cut Shen's lead to 16-12, but the Plainsmen shut Shaker down again to build a 23-14 halftime advantage.