HOOSICK, N.Y. — Hoosick Falls used an inside-out offensive attack to grab a 64-49 win over Saratoga Central Catholic on Thursday night.
It appeared there was a lid on the basket in the opening minutes, as the first points of the game came nearly halfway through the first quarter on a Marley McLellan 3-pointer from the right corner.
The quarter remained low-scoring as Hoosick Falls took a 7-5 lead into the second. The Panthers offense erupted for 57 points over the final three quarters.
The key to their success was finding center Olivia Estes in the paint. The senior finished with 14 points, but the scoring was secondary. Her presence forced the Central Catholic defense to collapse on her, allowing the other Panthers on the floor an opportunity to get open. Estes played her role well as a point-forward and facilitated the Panther offense for much of the game.
“It’s good to get the ball into her,” said Hoosick Falls coach Rich Cooney. “And if she can’t score it, she can kick it back out for an easy jumper.”
It was Mackenna Roberson who benefited the most from the defensive attention focused on Estes. The sophomore was lights out from behind the arc. All five of Roberson’s makes were 3-pointers as she scored a career-high 15 points.
Hoosick Falls led 22-15 at the half. The Panthers offense really came to life in the third, scoring 24 points in the quarter. Roberson was a big part of that offensive display, nailing all three of her shots from deep in the quarter. The last Roberson make of the quarter gave Hoosick Falls a comfortable 40-24 lead.
“I’ve been working on her telling her don’t hesitate, just shoot the ball. She’s got a good shot, and it paid off tonight.”
Amber MacNeil has been the constant for Hoosick Falls so far this season, and she once again impacted the game in a big way on Thursday. She scored a team-high 19 points.
Much like Roberson took over the third quarter, MacNeil took over the second. At one point, she went on an 7-0 run by herself scoring a couple of baskets in transition and forcing a turnover and converting an and-one opportunity growing the Panthers’ lead to 16-7 early on.
MacNeil looked comfortable starting fast breaks and took advantage when the Central Catholic defense was slow to get back on defense.
“Her motor doesn’t stop,” Cooney said.
Despite facing a 46-30 deficit heading into the fourth quarter, Ashley Upson wasn’t going to let Central Catholic go quietly.
The Saints senior hit back to back 3-pointers to begin the quarter. She then made a tough contested layup to bring Central Catholic back within single digits, 46-37 with just over six minutes left to play.
Hoosick Falls crashed the offensive boards on its next possession, as Estes finally converted for the Panthers on their fourth shot of the possession to stop the bleeding.
But Upson wasn’t done. On the opposite end of the floor, she responded by splashing another 3-pointer right in the face of a Hoosick Falls defender, cutting the Panthers lead to 48-40. Upson finished her night with a game-high 22 points
The Panthers drew up a nice play and responded with a bucket of their own as Estes got a post touch and made a beautiful pass to a cutting MacNeil who converted a contested left-handed layup in traffic.
That gave Hoosick Falls a double digit lead once again and they would not look back over the final five minutes of play.