Chateaugay took the floor with perhaps the youngest team to ever play for the Section 10 Class D Girls Basketball Championship on Saturday.
The second seeded Bulldogs, who shared the NAC East Division I title with Madrid-Waddington, started two eighth graders, two sophomores and a junior against top seeded, undefeated NAC West Champion and number one state ranked Hammond.
The Bulldogs (14-4), who entered the game on a 12-game winning streak, played with fearless tenacity and poise beyond their years and their challenge brought out the best in the Red Devils who climbed to 17-0 in a 53-37 victory.
After falling behind 15-9 after one quarter the Bulldogs pulled into a 17-17 tie early in the second quarter when Madison McComb buried back 3-pointers. The Devils answered with a decisive 9-0 run led by six points from Landree Kenyon highlighted by a coast to coast run for layup with a defensive rebound.
The Devils would hold the lead the rest of the way and finish on a 6-0 run to cap a fourth quarter where they consistently ran their offense to limit of the shot clock starting with a 3-point play by Hailey Manning for a 44-33 lead as the clock expired.
After allowing five 3s in the first half the Devils adjusted their zone defense and did not allow a trey to the young sharp-shooters of Chateaugay in the second half.
“Our game plan coming in was to concentrate on their post player (Kaelyn Morgan) who is very good. When they made those 3s we adjusted to stop them from the outside,” said Coach Alyssa Crosby who coached the game after giving birth to her second child earlier in the week.
“I was so proud of the way the girls play today. I was especially happy with the way they ran the shot clock in the fourth quarter. Chateaugay is a very young team and a very good team. We definitely have to watch out for them next year.” The next challenge for the Red Devils on this year’s itinerary is a 6 p.m. matchup with Class A Champion Malone in the Overall Section 10 semi-finals on Wednesday at SUNY Potsdam. The other semi-final game will pit Class B Champion Gouverneur against Class C Champion Canton at 8 p.m. after the NAC Awards presentation.
The Red Devils will make their program’s 13th State Tournament appearance on March 10 hosting the Section 3 Champion at SUNY Potsdam for the right to advance to the New York State Final Four. In 2020 the Devils were on the verge of playing for a Final Four Berth when the COVID-19 pandemic cast eerie pause over the normal workings of the sports world and cancelled the 2021 postseason.
Offensively against the Chateaugay the Red Devils used their defense to trigger quick bursts of transition scoring and ran their halfcourt sets through the interchangeable center-forward combination of 6 footers Landree Kenyon and Sadey Sprabary.
Kenyon finished with a game-high 21 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks and 4 steals and Sprabary (4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks) converted her first four shots providing a quick offensive start and went to score 16 points on soft touch jump jump hoops and putbacks.
“Being a senior I wanted to play my best game and come out very strong. But I wanted to win for my team and my coach (Alyssa Crosby). She coached us right up until she gave birth,” said Sprabary.
“We have a great team and we are all very close.”
Hailey Manning continued her all-purpose production with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists and Ava Howie tallied seven points with 5 assists highlighted by entry passes to the post, 4 rebounds and 5 steals. Zoe Cunningham delivered 4 steals, 4 rebounds and 3 assists as facilitator on offense and defense Laurel Vinch supplied two steals off the bench.
“Every player on our team is a good basketball player who can score. In practice we have been working on running plays for every one of them,” said Coach Crosby who is assisted by Katina Dillon, Chet Truskowski and John Arquiett.
“There is no disappointment here. The girls are upset about the loss, and that’s understandable, but I have no regrets about how we played,” said Chateaugay coach Chris Reynolds.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these girls. We knew who and what we were facing coming in and the girls played well. That team (Hammond) has a lot of weapons and experience. We did what I thought we needed to do but Hammond definitely looked like a top ranked team in the state.”
Irelynn LaPlante (4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) tallied 13 points with three of the team’s five 3-pointers, while Kaelyn Morgan (3 rebounds) followed with an 11-point outing showing an array of accomplished low post moves. Madison McComb tossed in a pair of treys among her 9 points with 4 rebounds and had 2 assists. Mary Leonard and Aurora Gogolen completed the Chateaugay scoring with two points each. Avery McDonald led the team in rebounding with five.
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