Friday, March 26, 2010

Averill Park girls beat Medgar Evers, advance to Federation Final

Averill Park High School girls basketball players Amber Dushensky (44), Katie Duma (13) and Amanda Fitzgerald (5) walk off the court after their 58-34 victory over Medgar Evers in Friday's Class A Federation Tournament of Champions semifinal game at the Glens Falls Civic Center. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Molly Streb doesn't take many three-point shots for Averill Park - she had hit just two in Averill Park's 25 games prior to Friday's Federation Tournament of Champions Class A semifinal against Brooklyn's Medgar Evers College Preparatory School.


But Streb buried a trey from the corner just before halftime and the Warriors' most counted-upon threats from long range, Katie Duma and Michaela Ottati, kept the trend alive in the third quarter.

Ottati buried a three on the first play after halftime, Duma answered on the next possession and Ottati followed that with a three-point play. The Warriors scored the first nine points of the third quarter and walked away with a 58-34 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Averill Park (25-1), the No. 1 ranked Class A team in New York State, will face the Catholic High School Athletic Association champion, St. Anthony's of Melville (24-6) in today's Federation title game in Glens Falls. Tip-off is set for 12:15 p.m.

"We know we're going to have a tough game tomorrow and that is what our attention turns to," said Averill Park head coach Sean Organ. "The players are good about putting this one behind us and moving on to tomorrow."

Here is what the Post Star had to say about St. Anthony's in today's paper.

Their top scorer, Kerrin Maurer, broke her hip in a car crash on Jan. 21. Three other players were injured in the accident and two of them recently returned to the lineup. For a period of time, the team had only eight healthy players and spent a lot of time visiting their injured teammates in the hospital.

The Friars do not currently have a player that averages double-figure scoring. Four score between five and nine points per game.

--
Friday, Duma finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Ottati added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Still, Streb's unlikely shot from beyond the arc capped Averill Park's 12-3 run to close the second quarter and really boosted their spirits heading into halftime.

“Molly is a really good player,” Ottati said. “She comes out of nowhere and makes really good plays that give us a boost of energy that lasts a really long time. She's good at everything she does.”
Medgar Evers (23-3), New York City's Public School Athletic League champion, took a 17-12 lead with 4:57 to play in the second quarter. Averill Park ended the second quarter on a 12-3 spurt and opened the third on a 20-4 run, putting Evers in the rearview mirror for good.

Averill Park put the pressure on Evers in the second half, as sophomore forward Brooke O'Shea came up with seven steals to go along with her seven points. Most of her steals came at halfcourt as Evers could not navigate the ball into their offensive end.
The Warriors also practically couldn't miss from the field in the third quarter after a so-so first half. They finished making 38.5% of their shots after shooting 35% in the first half.

"It's probably close to as good as we've played all season," said Organ. "I don't think there are too many games where we shot better than that. I felt like it took us a quarter to adjust. The first quarter we were a little cold, but we had to step up our defensive intensity, especially in the second quarter and through the second half."

Averill Park senior Katie Duma (right) looks to block Medgar Evers' Ashley Castle's shot during a Class A Federation Tournament of Champions game Friday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

--
It will be a family affair for the Ottati clan at the Civic Center on Saturday. Michaela Ottati is one of Averill Park's premier shooters. Her cousin, Chris Ottati, is a junior on the Christian Brothers Academy team set to play Christ the King Saturday at 3:45 p.m. in a Class AA semifinal.

“It's really cool. It's a weird feeling,” Michaela said. “Two Ottatis won States and now we're in the Federations. It's a nice feeling.”

--
For the Averill Park seniors, they've got one last game. Win, lose or draw, Saturday's Federation Final will be the last time this particular group of players puts on the Averill Park uniform and tears are sure to be flowing from everyone when the final horn sounds around 1:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

"We're excited that we're representing the Suburban. We're excited that we're representing Section II and the Capital Region," said Organ. "It's kind of like a dream. It's almost like we've been living the real-life Hoosiers."

Averill Park had won cross country state titles in previous years, but last week's Class A state championship was the Warriors first title in any other sport.

"We're making history for the school right now," said Duma. "Every game, we treat it like our last and we just don't want it to end."

South Colonie won the Class A Federation title in 2001. That was before a Class AA bracket was added.
Other Section II teams to win Federation titles include Germantown ('86 and '87) and St. Johnsville ('93 and '94).
Watervliet's 1991 Class C squad was the only Section II boys team to have won a Federation title.

“It's a great feeling to accomplish this, since we've been playing together since we were little, all together,” said senior point guard Brittany O'Shea. “What more can you ask for? Each of our girls are amazing.”

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