Two eras ended in Thursday's Section II Class AA girls basketball semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College.
The long and highly successful coaching career of Shenendehowa's Ken Strube closed when Big 10 champion Albany defeated the Plainswomen 52-46, while Colonie ended Shaker's reign as Sectional champions by beating the Blue Bison 54-39.
"It really hasn't sunk in," said Strube, who coached Shen to 10 Sectional titles and four state championships during his three decade-long run, which also included a Section II-best 588 wins. "It was a spectacular fairy tale ride for me at Shen. I can't even say enough of all the great players I got to coach.''
Breahanda Stratton fueled Albany's win over Shen with 22 points, including a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter that put the Falcons ahead 37-36. Albany then opened the fourth quarter on an 11-1 run to build a lead it never relinquished.
"We only had one senior on the floor tonight, but these girls are fun to watch," said Albany coach Kelly Haggerty-MacNabb. "Tonight, they played together and stayed together."
Emily Weber did what she could to keep Shen in the game. The Canisius College-bound senior scored 25 points and twice got the Plainswomen within five points of Albany late in the fourth quarter.
"We moved the ball well and our defense tried hard but it wasn't good enough tonight,'' said Weber. "They (Albany) had a game plan, and it worked."
In the nightcap, Colonie's defense frustrated Shaker's offense most of the game. After the Blue Bison scored the first six points, Colonie limited them to just 11 points over the rest of the first half as the Lady Raiders built a 25-17 halftime lead.
"In a big game like this teams tend to start slow, and that's what we did tonight,'' said Colonie coach Heather Fiore. "We got through it, and I can't say enough about our defense. They (Shaker) are a much taller team. We needed to box out (for rebounds), which is something I harped on all season. Tonight, we did it."
"We took good shots, but tonight we just couldn't score,'' said Shaker coach Emily Caschera-Blowers. "Defensively we would get the stops, but but then we'd struggle to shoot. We couldn't hit a two. We couldn't hit a three. We couldn't make our free throws.''
Colonie will meet Albany in Saturday's Class AA finals at HVCC. It's the Lady Raiders' second consecutive trip to the championship game, while Albany is playing for its first title since 1998.