Cambridge prepares for Seton Catholic in regionals
The Indians became the first Cambridge girls squad since 2001 to win a sectional title when they inched out Mekeel Christian Academy in the Class C Section II championship game Saturday in overtime.
The win meant a lot to not only the team, but the Cambridge community as a whole.
"It's a great experience for these girls and for the school," said Indians coach Tony Bochette. "Everyone's been excited and supportive. The community has come out and really supported us. It's an exciting time."
With a sectional championship now in its pocket, Cambridge sets its sights on a bigger prize and that begins with a regional semifinal game against Seton Catholic of Plattsburgh Thursday at 6 p.m. at Saratoga Springs High School.
The Knights are the champions of Section VII, and like the Indians, needed overtime to win their sectional championship. Seton Catholic took on Northern Adirondack Friday at Plattsburgh State Field House and trailed for almost all of the second half. They were down by 10 with six minutes to play, but fought back to tie up the game late to force overtime.
The Knights' Gretchen Zalis gave Seton Catholic a lead in overtime it wouldn't give up and the Knights went on to win 55-49.
The win was Seton Catholic's first Class C sectional championship since 2008.
When it comes down to it, the Knights are a team very similar to Cambridge. They both fought through grueling sectional championship games and both put to rest a streak of not achieving top success at the sectional level.
"There's a lot of similarities. Putting some of that past history of not being able to win a sectional title to rest and then going at it in the fashion they did with an overtime victory just like we did," Bochette said. "I got to watch the game on film a little bit and they have a really balanced attack. They have guards who can shoot the ball and they have a big inside that really can be tough to handle."
Much like the Indians' last opponent Mekeel, Seton Catholic boasts a pretty balanced offensive attack.
Zalis figures to be the top threat for the Knights and she showed that in the sectional title game. She led Seton Catholic with 19 points in that game and scored eight of those points when the Knights were in the 10-point hole late.
Zalis came up big in the sectional semifinal game against Ticonderoga as well. She scored 17 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for a double-double. Zalis joined her school's 1,000-point club earlier in the season.
"We're just going to have to make sure we execute the game plan as far as containing her and making sure we're aggressive to the rebounds and getting to every loose ball we can," Bochette said. "She's a 1,000-point scorer, so there's only so much you're going to do against someone of that caliber."
Around Zalis, Seton Catholic has solid depth. Nicole Bullock scored 15 points in the sectional final and Haley Murnane added 12 of her own in the effort.
The Indians will hope for more of the same from their key contributors. Both Sophie and Lilly Phillips have continued their strong play throughout Cambridge's playoff run, whether it be in the scoring column or facilitating the offense.
Senior Helen Mooney figures to play a major role Thursday. Mooney has been playing her best basketball of the season during the team's playoff run. Over the past three games, she is averaging 15 points per game. Mooney also figures to be important due to the prowess of Zalis on the block. If the Indians want to keep Zalis in check, Mooney will play a major role in that.
The winner of Thursday's game moves on to play Section X's Madrid-Waddington at SUNY Canton.
That game would be effectively a home game for the Yellowjackets, as their school is located less than a half-hour from the SUNY Canton campus. The trip is more than two hours for the Knights and almost four hours for the Indians.
Tip off for the Cambridge-Seton Catholic game is set for 6 p.m. in Saratoga Springs.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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