Lady Bills upend league champions
JOHNSTOWN – With seedings for the Section II Tournament set to be announced today, the Johnstown girls basketball team ended the regular season on a high note Tuesday.
The Lady Bills knocked off Queensbury, 42-37, one night after the Spartans claimed the Foothills Council crown for the first time since the 1990-91 season.
“To beat the league champions on senior night is great,” Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. “It’s great momentum for us heading into sectionals. This has got to help us for seedings. I can’t wait to see what happens in the meeting [Wednesday].”
Senior Courtney Cirillo led the Lady Bills with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Emma Heroth and Brianna O’Rourke each scored seven points. Lexi Swatt and Hope Cerasuolo each added six points for the Lady Bills.
Heroth, a senior, also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with six assists and six steals for the Lady Bills.
“She had a pretty busy night,” Derwin said of Heroth’s effort.
Nikari Carota led Queensbury with 13 points, while Jillian Davis added 12 points.
With both teams playing for the second time in as many days, the teams both struggled on the offense end in the opening quarter with Johnstown taking a 7-3 lead after eight minutes of play.
It was a ragged start for both sides as the Lady Bills finished the first quarter with seven fouls, while Queensbury was whistled for four.
Cirillo scored six of the Lady Bills’ seven points in the first quarter.
Both teams picked up the pace in the second quarter as Johnstown extended its lead to 12-4 early in the quarter only to have the Spartans rally to trail 19-14 at the half.
“This game had a wicked pace to it,” Derwin said.
Cirillo led the Lady Bills with eight points in the first half, while Davis and Carota each had five first-half points for the Spartans.
Johnstown maintained its advantage through the third quarter, outscoring Queensbury 10-7 to take a 29-21 lead into the final frame.
The Lady Bills led by 10 after a basket by Swatt to open the quarter, but the Spartans began chipping away at the Johnstown lead, closing to within a point at 38-37 with 1:52 to play after Katelyn Shevlin hit a pair of free throws.
However, Cirillo pushed the lead to four points with a three-point play with 54.7 seconds to play.
“The three-point play by Courtney Cirillo was huge for us,” Derwin said. “It gave us some breathing room when we really needed it.”
Johnstown sealed the win when Heroth hit one of two free throws with 33.1 seconds to play.
“Early in the year, we lost a lot of close games that we were in,” Derwin said. “Now, they’re starting to go our way.”
After starting their Foothills Council schedule 0-5, the Lady Bills went 5-2 in their last seven league games. Johnstown ended the season by winning seven of their last nine games and five of their last six contests.
“I felt all along that we’re as good as any team we’ve faced. We just haven’t got the results to show for it,” Derwin said.
Johnstown (10-8 overall, 5-7 Foothills) now awaits the pairings for the Section II Class B Tournament, which will be announced today.
“We’re playing well,” Derwin said. “I think we can play with any team in the B’s as long as we put in the kind of effort we put in tonight.”
Queensbury (13-5 overall, 8-4 Foothills) now awaits the pairings for the Class A Tournament, which will be announced today.
“[Johnstown] just came out on fire,” Queensbury coach Megan Bethel said. They came out ready to play and we came out flat. [Johnstown] just played great.”
Tuesday’s game was the final regular-season home contest for Cirillo, Swatt, Heroth, Lindsay Brandt, Jillian Curtis and Jenna Hohenforst.
Johnstown 42, Queensbury 37
Queensbury3 11 7 16 – 37
Johnstown7 12 19 13 – 42
Shevlin 1-2-4, Nelson 0-2-2, Carota 4-5-13, Rodriguez 0-2-2, Davis 4-4-14. Totals 11-15-37.
Cirillo 5-4-14, Swatt 2-2-6, Cerasuolo 1-4-6, Heroth 2-2-7, Hohenforst 1-0-2, O’Rourke 2-3-7. Totals 13-15-42.
3-point goals: Queensbury – none; Johnstown 1 (Heroth).