Sometimes, it can seem like there’s an invisible lid on one particular basket in a game.
Of course there isn’t a lid, but it looked like there was one on the north end basket at Hudson Valley Community College’s gym during last Saturday’s state Class AA girls basketball championship game between Shenendehowa and Sachem East.
Long Island champion Sachem East struggled mightily to make shots in the first half, but it took advantage when Shen had trouble with the same basket in the second half to pull off a come-from-behind 50-44 victory.
The lid was on the hoop in the second half, said Shen coach Ken Strube. `But seriously, they cranked up their defense, and we missed some opportunities.`
The Plainsmen (22-3) used a 14-4 second quarter run to take a 28-18 halftime lead, but things went south when they started shooting at the north basket in the third quarter. Shen missed several shots near the basket to open the quarter.
That opened the door for Sachem East (22-2). The Flaming Arrows went on a 13-2 run to take a 31-30 lead late in the third quarter.
`If you have those [early shots drop], maybe you weather the storm,` said Strube.
The lead changed hands several times until Sachem East took command midway through the fourth quarter on back-to-back three-pointers by sisters Kristen and Meaghan Doherty. Shen got as close as 43-42 following a pair of threes by Emily Weber, but the Flaming Arrows pulled away with several clutch free throws.
`You’ve got to tip your hat. They made the shots when they had to,` Strube said of Sachem East.
Kristen Doherty, a Boston College-bound senior guard, led Sachem East with 22 points, eight rebounds, six steals and three assists. Sophomore Meaghan Doherty contributed 18 points and four steals.
`They’re a pretty good tandem,` Strube said of the Doherty sisters.
Weber netted 13 points, while Marissa Ray and Allie Setter each chipped in 12 points for Shen.
`It was a great season,` said Strube. `I think as disappointed as the girls may be right now, if you had told them before the season that they’d play for a state title, they might have giggled at the thought of it.`
The Plainsmen can think about making a return trip to Hudson Valley Community College next season. While they graduate six seniors including Ray, Roz Alexander, Andrea Mangione and Kayla Wheeler, they will have Weber, Setter and forward Meg Rogers back in the starting lineup.
`I hope it’s not the last [time], but you never know,` said Strube. `Every season, a new team becomes the top team in your section.`
Shen reached the state finals by beating Section V champion Fairport 54-41 in last Friday’s semifinal game.
This time, it was the Plainsmen that rallied from a halftime deficit to pull out the win. They outscored the Patriots 16-9 in the third quarter to grab a 37-34 lead, and then they finished with a 17-7 run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Ray had the hot hand for Shen. The senior guard drained four three-pointers on her way to a 20-point night. Weber contributed 15 points for the Plainsmen.
Allyson DiMagno led Fairport with 26 points.“
Associate editor/sports editor