Mar 14, 2010 Rob Jonas Uncategorized
A 32-minute game was decided in the final 3.9 seconds.
Breanna Stewart missed a 15-foot jump shot, and Marissa Ray blocked Cara Gannett’s follow-up at the buzzer to give Shenendehowa a 34-33 victory over Cicero-North Syracuse in Saturday’s Class AA girls basketball regional at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
“The kids did everything they needed to do in the second half. We hit our shots, grabbed rebounds and played good defense,” CNS coach Eric Smith said. “We just fell one basket short.”
“Both teams played good, solid defense,” Shen coach Ken Strube said. “Nobody took a shot that they wanted.”
The Northstars (18-3) had a 33-30 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Shen’s Andrea Mangione stepped up. The senior came off the bench and scored five unanswered points, including a pair of free throws with 3:04 left to put the Plainsmen (21-2) ahead by one point.
“As a senior, I really didn’t want the season to end,” said Mangione. “Even if I had been on the bench cheering on my team, I would have felt good. But to be able to contribute feels even better.”
The final three minutes were a series of missed shots and turnovers by both teams, as Shen desperately clung to its lead. CNS had a chance to take the lead with 1:21 left when Brittany Paul was fouled driving for a layup, but Paul missed both free throws.
But the more heartbreaking sequence for the Northstars proved to be the final one. Shen missed a shot at the other end, and CNS grabbed the rebound and called a time-out with 13.3 seconds left.
As expected, the Northstars set up a play for Stewart, but the sophomore forward was fouled on the floor with 3.9 seconds left. Since Shen had fouls to give, CNS had to inbound the ball again, this time from underneath the basket.
Once again, the Northstars turned to Stewart. The inbounds pass came directly to her, but with three Shen defenders surrounding her and time running out, Stewart heaved a shot that clanged off the back of the rim.
“It was a good look [at the basket], and it was a look that we expected to give her,” Smith said. “It was just an inch too long.”
“We knew the ball was going to her,” said Strube. “We wanted to make it as difficult of a shot as we could without fouling her.
The rebound landed in Gannett’s hands, and the freshman took a final shot. But Ray stuffed the ball before it had a chance to go near the basket, and Shen prevailed.
That CNS still had a chance to win in the final seconds was a testament to its resiliency. Shen opened up a 24-13 halftime lead after closing the second quarter on a 9-0 run, during which the Northstars turned the ball over several times and was beaten by Shen on the glass.
However, CNS turned things around in the third quarter. They started forcing Shen turnovers and getting offensive production from Paul and senior guard Brittney Fedele, which helped them tie the game at 25-25.
“We decided at halftime that we had to play harder,” Smith said. “We were doing the things we needed to do in the first half. We just didn’t do them hard enough.”
CNS then opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, capped by a Gannett basket that gave the Northstars a 31-27 lead. It stayed in front until Magione brought Shen back and carried the Plainsmen into next weekend’s state semifinals, also at HVCC.
Stewart finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Paul added seven points. Emily Weber led Shen with 11 points, 10 of which came during the first half. Ray contributed six points, while Meg Rogers led the defensive effort with eight rebounds.
CNS only loses Fedele from its roster to graduation. Everyone else, including Stewart, Paul, Gannett, Kelsey Mattice and Abbey Timpano, come back in 2010-11.
“I couldn’t have asked anything more out of my kids this year,” Smith said.