PLATTSBURGH — The AuSable Valley girls’ basketball team attacked the rim Friday night.
Northern Adirondack didn’t have the answer.
The Patriots pulled away for a 58-33 victory in the Section VII Class C championship game at the Plattsburgh State Field House, capturing their first sectional title since the 1991-92 season.
“The girls had their eye on the prize,” said AuSable Valley coach Roger Long. “We had a bad practice yesterday. You could see the girls just wanted to play the game.
“You could tell from their body language tonight that they were ready to play.”
Both teams are very young.
The Patriots (18-2) have only two seniors, while the Bobcats don’t have any. AuSable Valley, however, did have an experience edge over NAC.
“I think we were a little intimidated when they made their run,” said NAC coach Jessica Barnhart. “We needed someone to step up and respond to the challenge. But we couldn’t do it.”
The Patriots hit two 3-pointers in the game and the vast majority of their points came from penetration to the basket or in transition off steals. AuSable Valley stole the ball 26 times.
“We have players who can shoot the three, but we didn’t want to settle for that,” said Long. “You have to contend with the depth perception at the Field House and we didn’t want to have a quick trigger.
“We wanted to attack the rim and play strong defense. We struggled a little in the first quarter defensively, but did well after that. We also rebounded well.”
The Bobcats made a game of it in the first quarter, trailing by a 12-10 score before the Patriots settled for a 16-11 advantage after one.
But that would be as close as NAC would get the rest of the way.
“AuSable Valley came out and played great defense from the start,” said Barnhart. “They played tremendous defense — they put us under a lot of pressure.
“We stayed with them in the first quarter. But I knew going in that they would play great defense and also attack the basket. We weren’t able to keep it up.”
Three AuSable Valley players finished in double figures in points. Meghan Strong led the way with 16, followed by Taylor Saltus with 15 and Logan Snow, 13.
Haley Taylor and Sierra Snow, the only seniors on the court, combined for 16 rebounds for the Patriots, with Taylor getting nine and Snow, seven. Saltus contributed five assists and eight steals.
Rachael Venne accounted for just over half of NAC’s offense with 17 points and Taylor Durnin was next with nine. It didn’t help the Bobcats when Jillian Scott left the game in the first half with an injury.
Saltus hit a 2-pointer and Logan Snow followed with two hoops to help the Patriots open up a 22-11 lead in the second quarter.
AuSable Valley finished with a 17-4 scoring edge in the second and took a commanding 33-15 lead into the half.
Logan Snow added two more baskets and Strong one as the Patriots made it 39-15 early in the third quarter.
Venne hit a trio of 2-pointers to pull the Bobcats to within 41-22, only to have AuSable Valley tally the final four points of the stanza for a 45-22 lead. The closest NAC got the rest of the way was 21 points early in the fourth.
“I think we’re a little deeper than they are,” said Long. “It didn’t show in the first quarter, but it did later in the game.”
The Patriots will now move on to state regional play, while the Bobcats will use Friday’s experience as a learning tool.
“I couldn’t be happier with the season we had,” said Barnhart. “We were able to make it to the championship game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us tonight. But I hope the experience we got will help us get here again.
“Roger has a good team and they deserve to go on.”
AuSable Valley 58, NAC 33
Durnin 4-1-9, Warick 0-0-0, LaFountain 0-0-0, Venne 7-3-17, Magee 0-2-2, Scott 1-0-3, Lashway 0-0-0, Kerr 0-0-0, Brunell 0-0-0, Boulrice 1-0-2. Totals: 13-6-33.
AuSable Valley (58)
Strong 7-0-16, Knapp 0-0-0, Saltus 6-3-15, L. Snow 6-1-13, Taylor 2-0-4, Rondeau 2-2-6, Si. Snow 1-0-2, Douglass 1-0-2, Manning 0-0-0, McCabe 0-0-0, Garrow 0-0-0, Sy. Snow 0-0-0, Santamaria 0-0-0, Bourgeois 0-0-0. Totals: 25-6-58.
NAC 11 4 7 11 — 33
AuSable Valley 16 17 12 13 — 58
3-point goals: NAC (1): Scott. AuSable Valley (2): Strong 2.