Section II, Class AA Reactions
After the last court storming and the last team dance party had ended, the high school basketball sectionals were over Monday night at the Times Union Center.
But all I can say is wow, what a way to go out.
It seems only fitting that the Class AA finals would end with another major upset and yet another great performance from one of the area’s best players.
Regionals still await for the ten teams in Section II that continue on in their pursuits of a state championship, but for most teams, nothing compares to the thrill of going through your sectional in front of your home fans and outlasting your biggest rivals.
Let’s take a look at what happened last night at the TU Center. You can take a look at my Monday preview to see just how close (or far off ) I was.
Shenendehowa 76, Albany 54
Now I don’t know if anyone doubted that Shen could compete in this game – or even win. But I don’t know if anyone had the Plainsmen winning by 20 against the reigning sectional champs. But after knocking off an undefeated Shaker team just to get here, Shen was clearly riding the wave of momentum.
Carly Boland went for 24 points – including six three-pointers in a performance that earned her the Section II Class AA Tournament MVP. Read a full game story here.
The three main factors:
Shen knocked down 11 in total from behind-the-arc; and that really became the difference. Shen’s ability to handle ball pressure and find open shots was the main reason this game turned into a rout. Shen was up just five at halftime.
The second difference for Shen was rebounding. Albany had a clear advantage in size and strength on the interior, but Shen was able to hold its own again on the glass. Shen’s contributions came from everywhere as freshman Sydney Brown had 12 points and an astonishing 19 rebounds en route to earning all-tournament honors.
And while Shen had 11 triples, Albany had just one. The Falcons shot just 28 percent from the floor. Missed Albany jumpers turned into Shen rebounds rather than Falcon putbacks.
Samira Sangare had 10 points. I knew she would be important to the scoring effort if Shen was going to win, but the real pleasant surprise was Ashley Acker. The senior had 17 points. She had two three’s and went a perfect 7-7 at the foul line.
And once again, senior guard Madison Shea was key on defense. She was able to help limit Albany guard Ayana Hunter to just nine points while helping Shen effectively run its offense against heavy ball pressure. Shen was able to exploit Albany’s athleticism and use it to find backdoor cutters and catch the Falcons in poor defensive rotations.
The final factor in Shen’s win, aside from shooting and rebounding, was bench play. Shen was able to rotate in several players. Amanda Lee again saw significant minutes, but the star of the Shen bench was Erin Hulbert.
The reserve guard had seven points while spelling Shea. She also was able to handle ball pressure, as she saw significant time when Shea was in foul trouble in the second half.
Shen’s beaten the two best teams in the area in consecutive games. Why can’t they compete and beat Cicero-North Syracuse of Section III on Saturday at HVCC (1:45)? If they continue to shoot well from deep, they are really going to cause problems. Ayana Hunter of Albany is just going to be a junior next season. She’s a star.
Boys, Green Tech 65, Guilderland 56
It’s so cliché that I don’t even want to write it. “Big players make big plays in big games.” But that’s what Jamil Hood Jr. did last night.
The senior had 27 points. He took over when he needed to. Tied at 52-52 in the fourth quarter, he crossed over a Guilderland defender and rose up from the perimeter to give Green Tech a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Read a full game story here.
Green Tech is just tough to plan for. I think Guilderland, and Shen before them, had the game plan right. They wanted to keep Green Tech to the outside rather than allow them to penetrate. This would keep Green Tech to lower-percentage shots and also help keep players out of foul trouble because they are not constantly defending the rim.
Again, the game plan was right. But Green Tech had the answer.
The Eagles hit six threes, including four by Hood. They shot well from mid-range also. They added nine free-throws. And when they did miss, they used their athleticism to gather rebounds and attempt second shots.
As well as Hood played, the unsung hero of the game was Isiah Dobere. The guard played a lot of minutes. He scored 12 points, with nine coming in the second quarter.
His ability to handle the ball freed Hood from playing the point guard position and allowed him to hang around the perimeter to make plays for himself.
For Guilderland, it didn’t go quite as planned on the interior. Guilderland post players had just 14 points. The perimeter players played well. Andrew Platek had 17 while Billy Floyd had 12.
Green Tech will play Saturday night at HVCC, 7:30 p.m., against Utica-Proctor. The Raiders are very athletic and Green tech won’t be able to just out-run or out-jump them. But then again, they haven’t just relied on athleticism to this point, so they won’t start now. They’ll need to shoot well again to win. Dobere can be a big asset if Proctor focuses on Hood.
Once Green Tech began to celebrate, the players all rallied around each other, dancing, hugging, and talking. But one person was absent.
Jamil Hood Jr. had gone to hug his father, Jamil Hood Sr., who is the Eagles’ head coach. It was a really nice embrace before he joined the scrub with his teammates.
All in all, an awesome sectional tournament. Best of luck to the Section II teams in the regionals.