Seven local girls basketball squads ready to battle for Sectional crowns

After a long season of jockeying for post-season position, seven area girls’ basketball teams are preparing to make runs in their respective sectional tournaments.

Of the seven squads, all but one were granted high enough seeds to warrant first-round home games.

The Amsterdam Lady Rams finished the regular season with a 9-9 overall record and were awarded the seventh seed as the only local team competing in the Class A tournament. The Lady Rams will welcome 10-seeded Mohonasen to Amsterdam High School on Wednesday.

“Once we lost our second game to Johnstown my coaches and I projected it and it looked like we were going to be the 7-seed without a chance to move up,” said Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler. “If we had beaten Johnstown it might have been a little bit different but that pretty much put us in that spot.”

Duemler’s projections had the Mighty Warriors of Mohonasen as the 10-seed and he said the Lady Rams have been preparing for the matchup for a few weeks. Like Amsterdam, Mohonasen features a freshman leading scorer in Saeeda Abdul-Aziz. Abdul-Aziz plays on an off-season team with Amsterdam’s freshman sensation Nina Fedullo meaning there is a level of familiarity between the two up-and-comers.

“They’re a little down this year (Mohonasen 1-17 overall) but the teams that they play are very good,” said Duemler. “That’s always scary when you play someone that comes from a bigger league. It’s hard to get a realistic feel for that team.”

Should Amsterdam make it past Mohonasen their next game would be against 2-seeded Troy. The Lady Rams lost twice to the Flying Horses this season – once by nine and once by 32.

“If we get a chance to play Troy it’s a no-lose situation for us because we have so many young girls, that experience is only going to help them and help our program for the future,” Duemler said.

The Johnstown Lady Bills and the Fonda-Fultonville Lady Braves will both be playing home games on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to kick off their Class B sectional tournament runs.

The Lady Bills (12-6 overall) are seeded third in the bracket to the delight of head coach Tim Derwin.

“I couldn’t be happier with our 3-seed,” Derwin said. “I think we earned it by virtue of our 10 wins against A schools. There are teams that have better records that got lower seeds but if you look at weight of schedule that’s what earned us the 3-seed.”

Johnstown will take on Greenville, who defeated Corinth 59-32 Saturday night in a play-in game to earn the right to take on the Lady Bills.

“We played them last year in the first round and a couple of their best players are still on the team so we know a little bit about Greenville,” Derwin said.

Derwin feels that his team matches up well against the Lady Spartans due to the Lady Bills’ size and overall physical style of play. With Annie Stock leading a high-pressure defense accompanied by a perceived lack of physicality in Greenville’s Patroon Conference, Derwin thinks Johnstown will be able to stifle Greenville’s offensive rhythm.

“They can score the ball but I don’t think they’re used to scoring it against that kind of pressure,” Derwin said.

The Lady Braves (13-5 overall) will vie for the Class B crown as the tournament’s fifth seed.

“By losing a couple games there late it cost us a better seeding spot and instead we’ve got to go through the number one seed to get to the finals,” said head coach Tom Nethaway. “No matter what, you’ve got to beat them all to get in anyway, so you’ve got to go out and play.”

Fonda-Fultonville lost two of their final four games, dropping them to the 5-seed and putting them in 1-seeded Tamarac’s side of the bracket.

“We could have easily been the third seed if down the stretch we won those last couple games,” Nethaway said. “Johnstown deserves having a three to five also. I’m not disappointed but we cost ourselves that.”

The Lady Braves will take on the Hudson Lady Bluehawks in their first game. Should the Lady Braves advance, a matchup against 4-seeded Schalmont could be awaiting them. Fonda-Fultonville fell to Schalmont twice during the regular season by an average of just six points. Nethaway says that his team has made some adjustments and he thinks they will be alright facing the Lady Sabres for a third time.

The Fort Plain Lady Hilltoppers garnered the seventh seed in the Class C tournament after finishing 13-5 in the regular season and will take on fellow WAC opponent Galway in their opening game on Tuesday. Despite beating Galway twice already this season, Fort Plain head coach Phil Karker does not see the game as a cakewalk.

“It’s kind of difficult when you face a team three times to beat a team, but we’re going to play as hard as we can and see what we can do,” said Karker. “This time of year you’ve got to take each game as they come and each opponent as they come and prepare for them one at a time.”

Fort Plain has made it this far on the backs of seniors Abby Boyer and Haley Kilmartin. To advance in the tournament, Karker knows his younger, more inexperienced players must step up.

“We’ve been working with them day in and day out trying to be positive with them and trying to give them some confidence,” Karker said. “They’re very good players, it’s just getting them to believe in themselves.”

The Canajoharie Lady Cougars (12-6 overall) will also be taking on a WAC team as the Class C tournament’s eighth seed. After defeating Berne-Knox-Westerlo 42-32 on Monday in the WAC Cup third-place game, Canajoharie will again be tested by the Lady Bulldogs on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be very hard to beat them but my prediction is that we beat them,” said Canajoharie head coach Joe Fowler. “I think we beat them in just pure aggressiveness and I think that’s what helped us in our win last week. We out-hustled them and if we can keep that tempo and if we can keep that same kind of play we should come out victorious.”

Fowler was displeased with his team’s 8-seed, citing a 10-3 record in a tough WAC and losses to only A and B teams. Both he and Karker expressed dismay with the seeding committee’s process. Fowler believes the system needs to be revamped, perhaps by implementation of a point system for inter-class games, while Karker feels the committee should put the same amount of effort into seeding the Class C and D teams that they put forth when seeding the other schools.

“They really worry themselves about the A’s and the B’s and the AA’s and I think by the time they get to the C’s and the D’s they’re ready to go home,” said Karker.

The final Class C school dancing in the tournament, and the only one taking to the road for their first game, is the Mayfield Lady Panthers. Led by sophomore guard Julie Hampton, the Lady Panthers (10-8 overall) grabbed the 11-seed and will take on 6-seeded Waterford on Tuesday. The Fordians finished their season 17-1 out of the Central Hudson Valley League and are led by a sophomore guard of their own in Abby Fountain. Fountain has nailed 41 shots from downtown this year while Hampton set a Mayfield school-record with 33 triples so far.

“From the sounds of it they’re a very guard-oriented team,” said Mayfield head coach Brian Moore. “I think we’re going to match up size-wise very well at a lot of positions and hopefully get some good post play from our senior Alex Sheldon.”

After entering last year’s tournament as the 20-seed, this year represents a marked improvement for the Lady Panthers. Mayfield won their final three contests of the regular season, all by three points or less, to put themselves in their current position.

While Waterford accumulated their near-perfect record facing D-caliber opponents, Mayfield was able to play C’s and B’s all year and even defeated Class A Gloversville 42-25.

“I think the competition level on our side has really prepared us to be in this great situation,” said Moore. “I think the girls are up for it and ready for it and I like the draw.”

The Lady Falcons of Northville (7-11 overall) are the final team competing in sectional play this season and will do so as the eighth seed in the Class D tournament. They will face Germantown on Tuesday at home.

“We come out of the WAC with a 7-11 playing all C schools all year,” said Northville head coach David Bush. “I was hoping that the committee would see the body of work and grant us that home game.”

Northville will have to contend with a pair of 6-footers in Germantown’s Megan Phelan and Kasey Griffin. Phelan and Griffin were first and third on their team in scoring, respectively.

“We’re going to have to contend with their height,” Bush said. “Fortunately, we’ve had to deal with Spa Catholic, Galway and Fort Plain, who have had similar height, so it’s something that we’ve played against ,so we’re kind of used to it.”

The Lady Falcons will take on the 1-seeded Fort Edward Flying Forts if they make it out of their first-round matchup. Bush’s advice to his team is to leave everything on the court since they have nothing to lose knowing Class D’s best team is waiting in the wings.