Dominant second drives Cambridge into regional final
Last year, at SUNY Canton, the Indians used a strong second quarter to down the Yellowjackets and Cambridge did the same thing Tuesday night as they beat M-W 58-31 at Shenendehowa High School to advance to the regional championship game.
With the win, Cambridge (22-1) moves on to play Section VII champion Moriah on Saturday at noon at Beekmantown Central School with a state semifinal trip on the line.
After a finishing the first quarter on 6-0 run to lead by six, the Indians absolutely dominated the second quarter.
Fueled on by suffocating defense that continued to fluster the Yellowjackets, Cambridge outscored M-W 25-5 in the frame.
When the Indians are at their best, they are using their length to get into passing lanes to cause tips and steals. Cambridge did just that in the second quarter, as the Yellowjackets coughed up the ball 12 times and shot just 2-for-9.
With guards Sophie Phillips and Lilly Phillips standing at 5-foot-11, and with Stasia Epler and Ruth Nolan both having solid length on the wings, the Indians can fluster an opponent with their defensive approach that causes so much chaos for an offense.
"Our length has really helped us, especially on defense," Sophie Phillips said. "Because we're so long, we're able to get tips and steals that help us get in transition."
Sophie Phillips was a major factor in that the second quarter run. She scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the quarter, with five field goals and a pair of free throws.
After starting off the game with not as much intensity as they had hoped, the Indians made a point to get back into their game that quarter.
"We got up and down the court and played really good defense and got a lot of tips," said Cambridge coach Bob Phillips. "Our defense drives our offense. We have long arms and we rotate well. It was good to see our girls really come out and perform."
The Indians started subbing a lot more after the half with a 26-point lead by halftime and they extended the lead to 31 heading into the fourth.
The Yellowjackets had a strong effort in the fourth, outscoring a mostly-reserve group of Cambridge players by four, but were way too far behind to make much of a dent in the lead.
If there was anything to nitpick about an outstanding effort Cambridge effort, it would be its rebounding, especially in the first quarter. To start the game, M-W controlled the boards and got some key offensive rebounds for some easy putback baskets.
In those types of situations, the Indians will sorely miss sophomore forward Fiona Mooney, who is out with a wrist injury. The original prognosis was 4-to-6 weeks out of action, and with it now being four weeks since the injury, upcoming check-ups will decide her availability if Cambridge continues to advance.
Lilly Phillips had 13 points for the Indians, while Stasia Epler scored 10 points, nine of which came in the first half.
After making the state semifinals last winter, Cambridge is determined to get back to championship weekend at HVCC.
With a win against Moriah on Saturday, they could make it a reality.
"We're extremely excited and we've put in so much hard work," Sophie Phillips said. "To get this far, it's amazing. We're not going to stop the mentality we've had and we'll keep that all the way through to the end."
Tip off Saturday is set for noon in Beekmantown.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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