Assistant Sports Editor
HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Knowing just how close his Panthers came to serving Tamarac a second Wasaren League loss was only a mild dose of consolation for Hoosick Falls Central School coach Eamonn DeGraaf.
Up by as many as 11 points in the first half and as close as five down the stretch in a second half that had spiraled away from them, the Panthers' 65-51 loss Friday night was its most one-sided at the final buzzer.
"It was a 14-point loss tonight but it was a closer game than 14 points," DeGraaf said. "We went into this game trying to show that we can play with these [top] teams.
"I felt, coming away from this game, that we can play with the Tamaracs and Hoosic Valleys if we want to and can put four quarters together."
The result snapped Hoosick Falls' five-game winning streak and masked a first-half in which the Panthers' executed to near-perfection for all but the final two minutes.
"They broke our pressure really well," Tamarac coach Eric Medved said. "They did a good job being patient, they're a well-coached team.
"This five-game winning streak is no fluke ... I predicted them to win the league -- they're a great team."
But with two minutes left in the second quarter and the Panthers (5-3) ahead by 10, Tamarac's Jenna Erickson broke loose. The quicksilver guard knocked down 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions as the Bengals (8-1) cut the deficit to 31-30 by halftime.
"The first quarter and a half, when we could score and get into our soft press and force them to make a few mistakes, we were solid," DeGraaf said. "We got into some foul trouble -- and we're not very deep as it is -- and I had to take the press off and it allowed them to come back there at the end of the second quarter."
Erickson tallied with 20 points to lead all scorers, including her team's first seven in the third quarter as they seized a 52-39 lead with a quarter left to play.
She finished with 12 points in the frame while Hoosick scored just eight.
"They took the momentum in [to halftime] and they came out in the third quarter and put it to us," DeGraaf said.
The Panthers struck back in the final frame as Carsen Williams hit for seven of her team-high 17 points.
Williams' jumper with just under three minutes to play made it a seven-point game, 56-49. Seconds later, Frankie Pearson (15 points) intercepted a pass and found Williams who set up Rachel Pine for a layup to trim the deficit to five.
But the Bengals responded with a trey from Jillian Gavin, her only points of the game, stretching the lead back to eight and ending the rally.
"That hurt. That was a gutsy shot," DeGraaf said.
Briana Matazinsky added 17 points -- including 11 at the free throw line -- and 10 rebounds for Tamarac, while Adiya Henderson also had a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards.
Kelly Pine chipped in with nine points and 10 rebounds for Hoosick Falls, which travels to Stillwater on Tuesday.