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.
Erica Houle led three Shaker players in double figures with 18 points, six of which came in overtime. Mackenzie Rowland ` returning from a bout with mononucleosis ` and Lauren Woods each contributed 15 points.
`That helped us a ton [having Rowland back],` said Caschera.
Colonie had its own problems with an aggressive Saratoga squad. The Lady Raiders built a 25-14 halftime lead, only to see that advantage shrink as the Blue Streaks (10-10) went on a 10-3 run to open the third quarter.
Colonie’s offense received a spark at the end of the third quarter when Kelly Dillon hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to put the Lady Raiders ahead 35-27. Tehresa Coles fanned that spark into a fire by scoring nine of her 14 points in the fourth quarter as Colonie pulled away for good.
Ashley Loggins used a strong performance from the free throw line to lead the Lady Raiders offense. The sophomore guard made 14 of her 16 foul shots on her way to an 18-point afternoon.
`Ashley stepped up and scored, and Tehresa did everything else for us,` said Fiore. `Tehresa had 20 rebounds and was terrific at the defensive end. That’s her game ` she’s everywhere.`
Rachel Eddy netted 12 points for Saratoga.
Fiore said she’s looking forward to Wednesday’s rematch with Shaker ` a team Colonie defeated 64-41 during the regular season.
`I expect it to be a totally different game,` said Fiore. `They’ve improved since we last played [Jan. 8].“
Associate editor/sports editor