Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top 10 stories of 2009: No. 6 - Hoosic Valley girls make it to state title game

Carolyn Houston leaps to secure a pass during Hoosic Valley's run through the 2008-09 New York State Class C playoffs at Hudson Valley Community College. Houston, The Record's 2008-09 high school girls basketball Player of the Year, led the Indians all the way to the state championship game.

The following was what I wrote after the team lost in the state championship game on March 22:

Hoosic Valley's brand of basketball (defense, defense, defense) is a bit of an acquired taste, but their teams (boys or girls) always provide an interesting game to watch. Whether it's a buzzer-beating shot or playing Voorheesville to a 25-23 slugfest in the Section II final, the Indians do it their way. Even though the team fell a few points short of their ultimate goal, it's the attitude and the philosophy that carried them this far so many years in a row. With a crop of brand-new starters next season, it's still hard to imagine their defense not being as stifling as ever when November rolls around.

So far this year, the Indians are 6-1 with a one-point loss to Class AA opponent Queensbury their only blemish. And all five starters had to be replaced, but Hoosic Valley is rolling right along.
Hoosic Valley head coach Walter Dorman consoles senior point guard Carlee Chapko after she fouled out of the state championship game. Chapko was a three-point specialist and a lockdown defender for the Indians during her career on the varsity.

The Indians are a fun team to watch, mostly because you know exactly what you're going to get before tipoff even happens. Hoosic Valley is going to play all-out on the defensive end and opposing offenses, no matter who is on the other side, is going to be frustrated. It's amazing that the defense can't be cracked, that there isn't a simple solution or an adjustment that exploits what the Indians do.

On one hand, the Indians show themselves to be one of the most well-coached teams in the area because their success is built on all the players understanding their role and not varying from it, no matter the situation in the game. On the other hand, it's not just the system. The starting five in 2008-09: Carolyn Houston, Sam Anderson, Erin Davidson, Carlee Chapko and Rebecca Moore, were all great athletes. Year-in and year-out, Hoosic Valley's team always get the best balance of basketball smarts, discipline and athleticism.

Watervliet's Jen Gates leaps into the arms of Tierney McGlynn after the Lady Cannoneers beat Johnstown in the Section II Class B title game in 2009.

Watervliet has won three consecutive Section II titles, trailing Hoosic Valley, which has won four in a row. The Lady Cannoneers play a similar defense-first style like Hoosic Valley and are again expected to challenge for a Section II title in 2010.

The Shenendehowa, Colonie, Averill Park, Holy Names and Maple Hill girls teams also have high hopes for 2010, but can they find a way to seal the deal like Hoosic Valley and Watervliet have done in recent years? On top of that, can those schools find a way to become perennial contenders like Hoosic Valley and Watervliet?

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