Ailayia Demand knew just what to do to help earn her Watervliet team a trip to the Section II Class B championship game.
The 5-foot-5 junior scored 26 points to lead the Cannoneers to a 49-43 victory over Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk in Saturday's semifinal game at Hudson Valley Community College.
Top-seeded Watervliet came out firing and took a quick 9-0 lead, but RCS battled back and led 12-10 after the first quarter.
“I think we started celebrating a little too early," said Watervliet coach Gordie Johnson. “Ravena is a very good team, and going in we knew they would be tough.’’
The fourth-seeded Lady Indians increased their lead to 24-18 at halftime led by Samantha Randio, who scored 10 of her team-high 18 points in the first 16 minutes.
Watervliet came out ready to run after the intermission, though. The Cannoneers outscored RCS 14-8 in the third quarter to take a 33-32 lead, with Demand scoring 12 of her 26 points in that stretch.
“We stopped playing defense and gave up easy baskets (in the first half)," Demand said. "We had to regroup, and we did. We knew they weren’t going to let down. Everybody wants to win. No one wants to go home. It’s a 32-minute game, and we had to keep up the intensity and composure."
A three-point basket by Katlyn Murray gave Watervliet a 43-36 lead with 3:21 left in the fourth quarter, but RCS didn’t quit. A basket by Randio got the Lady Indians within four points with 49 seconds left before time ran out.
Lashona Tolliver contributed 14 points for Watervliet, which advanced to Tuesday's Sectional final against Tamarac.