COHOES, N.Y. -- All year long, the Hoosick Falls Central School girls basketball team knew they would eventually have to face Wasaren League foe Hoosic Valley, the top team in Class C, for a third time.
They got their chance in the Class C semifinal on Tuesday night, holding star Cassidy Chapko below her scoring average, but the Indians did just enough to get past the Panthers, 39-34.
"They are a good basketball team, no one wanted to play them," said Hoosic Valley coach Walter Dorman. "We’re just going to get out of here before they take it back."
Trailing by 10 heading into the fourth quarter, the Panthers started to chip away at the Indians’ lead. With two minutes remaining, Hoosick Falls put on the press and Kelly Pine caused a turnover, passed it to her sister Rachel for a layup to pull the Panthers, playing in their second straight Class C semifinal, within one possession.
"We had nothing to lose. I just thought, ‘Don’t miss,’" said Rachel Pine, who led the team with 14 points. "I zoned everything out and it was just me and the hoop."
Hoosic Valley pushed the lead back to five after junior Tracy Anderson grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a layup, but two Rachel Pine free throws made it 37-34. With less than a minute remaining, the Indians got the ball inside, but then it was kicked out to Anderson, who calmly knocked down a 12-foot jumper.
"We come down and have them in a tough spot, scrambling with less than 10 [seconds] on the shot clock," said Hoosick Falls coach Eamonn DeGraaf. "They tried to get it down low, against Frankie, and [they] kicked it out and [Anderson] made a great shot."
Hoosick Falls had one final chance, but Chapko blocked a 3-point attempt and sent Valley back to the sectional finals against Berne-Knox-Westerlo.
It was the closest game all season for the Indians.
"We played games against Catholic Central and Scotia this year and we didn’t finish," Dorman said. "We learned how to play defense at the end, we didn’t panic and that helped us a lot ... [it] made the difference down the stretch."
In the first quarter, it looked like an upset was brewing for the Panthers. Olivia Schneider and Rachel Pine combined to knock down three treys as Hoosick Falls zoomed out to a 10-0 lead.
"Things were rolling and we didn’t miss a shot," DeGraaf said. "You have to expect a miss, so I told the girls to keep their composure. The big theme of the night was believe and don’t give up."
In the second quarter, the Indians woke up, hitting three straight three-pointers of their own. Chapko made it 15-7 with a trey that beat the shot clock, then hit another a minute later. She was held to 12 points, and only two in the second half.
Sophomore Alyssa Paul drained another one with 90 seconds left in the half to make it 15-13 and the Panthers’ early lead was history.
"We knew they’d make a run, but the [question] was, how would we respond?" DeGraaf said. "We didn’t let them pull away, got it down to three. We had our shot and let it slip away."
Hoosick Falls finishes the season 14-7.