GLENS FALLS — By the time the Section II Class B girls basketball final was over, the difference between capturing a sectional title and falling just short came down to the 3-point shot.
Glens Falls' ability to knock down the perimeter shot while Hoosick Falls struggled from behind the arc was the determining factor Saturday afternoon at Glens Falls Civic Center.
The Indians (18-3) made nine 3-pointers compared to just three from Hoosick Falls (21-3) en route to a 45-36 victory to secure the program's first sectional title since 1987.
"Me and (Glens Falls) coach (Mark) Girard were kind of joking around about it at the beginning of the game, saying that neither team's a real great 3-point shooting team," Hoosick Falls head coach Eamonn DeGraaf said. "They have 60-something coming into the game, we had 60-something coming into the game and today was a lot different story for them. I think they made (nine) threes."
While nine 3-pointers in a game doesn't seem like an overwhelming amount, it wasn't necessarily the number of threes the Indians sank Saturday, but the times at which they came during the game.
Every time the Panthers started to cut into Glens Falls' lead, somebody knocked down a timely 3-point bucket to stop the run. No shot came at a bigger time than when Glens Falls junior Caitlin Hogan buried a 3-pointer with one minute and 51 seconds remaining in regulation.
The 3-pointer ended a 12-3 run by the Panthers that had cut the Indians' lead from 13 points at the start of the fourth quarter to just 38-34.
Hogan's big-time shot made it a three-possession game again and put the final nail in Hoosick Falls' coffin.
"There was no bigger three than the one in the corner (Caitlin Hogan) made when we were getting a little momentum," DeGraaf said. "That was a huge shot from her. We knew going into the game she was a shooter, but she made that shot in a big moment. That was the difference right there. That was the last straw."
The Panthers got out to a quick start, leading 13-7 after the first eight minutes of play, but then the Indians started knocking down some long-range shots in the second quarter.
Half of Glens Falls' second quarter baskets where from 3-point range — three — and after three quick baskets, the Indians grabbed a 16-13 lead. The two teams traded baskets the last 5:30 of the first half, except two of Glens Falls' final three buckets where 3-pointers. With the extra points, the Indians doubled their lead to six points heading into the locker room, up 24-18.
The second half was much of the same for the Panthers. Hoosick Falls would get its baskets, but instead of them being from behind the arc like Glens Falls, they'd come from inside.
"Our shots just weren't falling," Hoosick Falls senior Megan Flynn said. "We shoot threes so much better in every other game, and when we need them we can't get them. I'm not blaming it on the 3-point game, but just a rough game, rough start."
But there was no quit from the Panthers.
Down 35-22 heading into the final stanza, Hoosick Falls wasn't looking to pack it in.
Hoosick Falls opened the fourth quarter on that big run to cut the Indians' lead to 38-34 before Hogan knocked down the big 3-pointer.
"We never give up," Flynn said. "We can be down by 20 points and we're still fighting like it's tied up."
While Saturday's loss left a sour taste in the Panthers' mouths, Flynn was proud of what her team was able to accomplish this season — the No. 1 seed, a 13-1 Wasaren League record and league title.
"I'm just proud that our team got here, especially after what a great season we had last year," Flynn said. "Not many teams get to come back; we talked about it in the locker room (after the game). Every time that we go into the gym we see that we made it all the way last year. Automatically when you lose you're like, 'What do you mean no practice Monday?' As much as you hate it when you're there, I just wish there was practice Monday. I'm so proud of my team."
Glens Falls now moves on to the regional round, where it will play the champion from Section VII. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.