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Monday Musings: Class AA Previews

An unbelievable sectional season wraps up tonight with Class AA action at the Times Union Center. The girls kick things off at 6:30 with Albany and Shenendehowa while the boys take the court after with Green Tech and Guilderland.

Both should be great matchups. Let’s take a look at each team’s profile and the keys to the game.

Girls

Shenendehowa (16-4, 12-4 Suburban)

How they got here: Defeated Catholic Central and Shaker to reach finals.

Keys to game: Confidence should be sky high for a Plainsmen team that knocked off Shaker in the semifinal, ruining the Bisons’ perfect season. Shen hit nine threes in the semi, and they are going to need to similar success from the outside against a quick and physical Albany team. Points on the interior are going to be hard to come by.

They will also need all their stars to show up to pull a second straight upset. Carly Boland (17.5 ppg) and forward Sydney Brown (12.4) will need to score, and they will need the added scoring of Samira Sangare, who had 15 against Shaker.

Defensively, Madison Shea will be a major factor at the point guard position. She will be tasked with defending Ayana Hunter, one of the quickest guards in the area. She was brilliant against Shaker, but she has to remain out of foul trouble if Shen wants to take the title.

Finally, the Plainsmen need to rebound against the bigger Falcons. Limiting Albany to one shot will be crucial. If Albany gets second and third opportunities, it could be a long day for Shen. Shen’s bench can help in this department like it did against Shaker.

Albany (18-1, 12-0 Big 10)

How they got here: Defeated Columbia and Bethlehem to reach finals.

Keys to game: For the Falcons, it’s all about how they start. Most people expected Shaker to be the opponent here, so they need to come out and treat Shen with the respect they have earned to this point.

Athletically, Albany has the major advantage. They are big and they are physical. Defensively, they can really wreak havoc for Shen by using that athleticism and toughness. If they have their way on the boards, Albany should have a good shot at a second consecutive Section II title.

Cara Waterson has 39 three-pointers on the season for the Falcons, but no other player has more than seven. They need her to hit from the outside, and if she’s not, all the more reason that rebounding becomes vital.

Boys

Green Tech: (14-5, Independent)

How they got here: Defeated Bethlehem, Shaker, and Shenendehowa to reach finals.

Keys to game: The Eagles played an independent schedule all season long before heading into the AA sectionals. This allowed them to really challenge themselves. So they’ve been tested and have played well in numerous big games this season.

If Green Tech is going to take down another Suburban foe, they need to make sure they can handle Guilderland’s big men down low. Matt Cerutti and Marc DeMoulin had 29 and 28 respectively, against Columbia.

Green Tech has the better overall athletes, but they need to make sure they play sound defense against a team that moves the ball very well. They need to force Guilderland into rushed shots and create turnovers. If they can rebound on the interior, they can use their quickness to get out into transition.

Offensively, Jamil Hood Jr. commands the attention of the opposition. The D1-bound guard has the ability to get to the rim and can shoot it from the outside.

If Green Tech is going to win this game, they need to hit from the outside. Shen packed in a zone and forced ‘Tech to beat them from the perimeter—and they did. Najee Ward had three triples in that win, and they may need it again.

Guilderland: (19-2, 15-1 Suburban)

How they got here: Defeated La Salle, CBA and Columbia to reach finals.

Keys to game: The Dutchmen are coming off that five overtime classic against Columbia in the semifinals. Luckily, they’ve had four days to recover. Guilderland proved itself to be one of the most balanced teams in Section II season, as they can beat you inside and outside. Cerutti and DeMoulin give the Dutchmen an advantage down low, so staying out of foul trouble and on the court will be critical. Guards Andrew Platek and Billy Floyd can hit the outside shot as well. Throw in guard Vin Simeone, and all five Guilderland starters can score.

If Guilderland can handle ball pressure, they should be OK on offense. Defensively, I think forcing Green Tech to hit the outside jumper is the best bet, but that didn’t work so well for Shen.

I’m not going to make a prediction. After reading my insights, you can make an informed decision.

I’m just rooting for another great night of basketball. It’d be the most appropriate way to end this Section II season.

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