Panthers' road ends with loss to Sir Bills
WATERVILET, N.Y. -- For the No. 6 seed Hoosick Falls Central School girls basketball team, playing in the annually tough Wasaren League is a good prep for the postseason.
On Saturday in the Class B quarterfinals, the Panthers battled a team in No. 3 Johnstown from the Foothills Council, another extremely tough league to navigate.
So it was no surprise the game came down to the final seconds. Johnstown took a double-digit lead in the first half and then held on for a 53-45 win in the Section II, Class B quarterfinals to knock out the Panthers.
Hoosick Falls finished 14-7 on the season.
"We wanted to ground out possessions," said Johnstown coach Tim Derwin. "It's always a dogfight in the Foothills, always down to the last couple of minutes."
Johnstown took a 34-26 lead at the half, but the Panthers came out fast in the second, creating turnovers with a three-quarter court press and baskets by Megan Flynn (6 points), Carsen Williams (12 points) and Olivia Schneider (7 points) to pull within 36-34 with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Hoosick Falls held the Sir Bills to one field goal by Kendra McCoy through the entire third quarter.
"We gave up  in the first half alone, and they only scored 53 total," said Hoosick Falls coach Eamonn DeGraaf. "We made a nice run and my team doesn't give up."
In the fourth quarter, Johnstown scored the first five points, a two by leading scorer Hope Cerasuolo (17 points) and a three by Kelsi Barnholt to double the lead to 45-35. But the Panthers still had one more run, as Hoosick Falls' leading scorer Rachel Pine (17 points) scored on a drive to the hoop with 5:16 left. In the next three minutes, the Panthers went to the free-throw line eight times, making five. Williams made a pair herself with 2:29 to go to pull within 46-43.
"Rachel took it to a different level tonight, and watching film from last year, I knew she could do it," DeGraaf said. "Her early ankle injury hindered her ability to drive in the lane, she was a little hesitant because she didn't want to re-injure [it]. But she took it to the basket and I look forward to that next year."
Up three, Johnstown took a timeout and ran a successful play with Cerasuolo scoring on a layup to extend the advantage back to five with time running out.
"I told them to play to win, not to lose," Derwin said. "They made the run but we answered. Hope has been steady the entire year, she's the one we want to have the ball in her hands."
With Hoosick Falls forced to foul, Johnstown went to the line with chances to ice the game. Cerasuolo and Megan Anagnostopulos missed one-and-one opportunities, but Johnstown's offensive rebounds kept the Panthers at bay.
"Offensive rebounding killed us, we gave some up after foul shots, it's not like us to not control the boards," DeGraaf said.
In the first half, Rachel Pine had 12 points to lead all scorers.
"The outside shots weren't falling, so I [drove] to the hoop and get my teammates involved," Pine said. "We never give up, we're fighters and [Johnstown getting a lead] didn't rattle us at all."
Hoosick Falls, who loses four seniors, ends the season at 14-7.
"It's hard, you don't want to go out like that," Pine said. "I played with [the seniors] all the way up, Carsen has been my right hand man all the way. It'll be hard without them, we'll have to get through it.
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