Second half surge propels Cambridge to sectional final
The Cambridge girls basketball team embodied that fact Tuesday night in its Class C sectional semifinal game against Hoosick Falls at Cohoes High School.
The Indians found themselves in a position they rarely encounter, as they were down by six points at the half.
Cambridge (22-1) knew it had to get back to its brand of basketball and that's exactly what they would do, as strong play on both ends in the second half propelled them to a 49-42 win against the Panthers.
With the win, the No. 1 seed Indians move on to play No. 2 seed Mekeel Christian Academy in the sectional final on Friday at Hudson Valley Community College.
Cambridge got off to a hot start and held an eight-point lead by the end of the first, but Hoosick Falls came out and dominated in the second quarter. The Panthers outscored the Indians 19-5 in the second frame.
According to Indians coach Tony Bochette, it wasn't a matter of making any major adjustments, it was about playing like Cambridge has all season.
"We weren't doing what we had been doing well all year," Bochette said. "(Hoosick Falls) came out with a great defensive game plan against us and it kind of threw us off our game. We made the adjustment in mentality and made a couple little switches. We just had to get back to the way we are capable of."
"Hoosick Falls played a great game and getting down is kind of scary, but there's always going be games like that and you really have to get back," added senior Helen Mooney. "All of us have a lot of faith in each other, so when we got down, we just had to reset our minds."
A player who hasn't received as much spotlight in the past, due to the influx of a talented freshman class taking a major role, has been Mooney. Mooney has had a different role on this year's Cambridge team than she's had in the past with all of the talent around her.
Tuesday night, the center showed the talent that everyone knows she possesses and took over in a big way. The senior led the Indians with 19 points and did a great job defensively as well.
"With the success of the team this year, we have a different way of going through the offense," Bochette said. "She's starting to take some senior leadership. She's saying, 'you know what, I know I can do this.' The confidence is back. When she's playing with that confidence at 5-foot-11, athletic, she's tough."
Cambridge had solid production around Mooney, as Lilly Phillips added seven, Sophie Phillips, Grace Snyder and Bridey Nolan added six, while Hailey Herrington had five points.
Snyder and Herrington's play stood out in a nice way. With freshman forward Fiona Mooney in foul trouble for a lot of the second half, the two seniors had some nice energy minutes for the Indians.
All season long, Logan Thayne has been the catalyst for Hoosick Falls on both ends of the floor. When the sophomore center is on, the Panthers always have a chance to win. Thayne made sure she kept her team in the game throughout on Tuesday. She scored a game-high 21 points and was a force on the defensive end with multiple blocks and lots of rebounds. She scored 10 of her 21 during the run Hoosick Falls made in the second quarter.
"Logan is a great player. She's really tough to defend," Bochette said. "We came out early thinking we're going to front her and make them make passes over the top and make her stay down low. She was able to get a lot of rebounds that hurt us. We came back and played good, hard man-to-man and make her work to get hoops and I think that was the big difference."
The loss ends a Panther season that had a lot of promising moments. After losing a talent like Kelly Pine to graduation last year, Hoosick Falls' ability to still contend at a high level, especially with a new coach, was impressive throughout the season.
Cambridge sets its sights on a Lions team that had a hard fought battle in their own right Tuesday. Mekeel inched out a 51-49 win against Greenville in the game preceding the Indians' game.
The Lions are a talented team across the board, but their two main threats are seniors Rebekkah Dean and Elizabeth Singleton, who both averaged more than 14 points per game this season. The pair combined for 40 of Mekeel's points Tuesday night.
Friday's game holds extra importance for Cambridge with the Lions being the team that knocked them out of sectionals the past two seasons.
"They're dynamic. They can score and they can play defense," Bochette said. "There's not a lot of weakness there. We're going to have to play our best ball to beat them."
Friday's tip off is set for 6 p.m. at HVCC.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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