WEST SAND LAKE -- The Catskill Cats kept their undefeated streak alive Saturday with a 60-49 victory over the Ichabod Crane Riders in the Section II Class B semifinals for girls basketball at Averill Park High School.
Janay Brantley led the floor with 34 points for Catskill in the win, Aaliyah Shook was also in double figures with 12, and Ava Edmond and Alessia Salierno combined for ten.
Carolina Williams was the leading scorer for Ichabod Crane with 29 points, Ashley Ames scored nine, and Alexa Barkley and Delaney More combined for eight to round out the top performers.
The Riders controlled the opening tip and Malati Culver grabbed an offensive rebound after a miss by Carolina Williams, but she could not convert the second chance opportunity. Ashley Ames missed from three point range but Ichabod Crane secured two straight offensive rebounds and Williams made a three from the corner for the game’s first basket.
Alessia Salierno uncorked a shot from beyond the arc as well, but it banked off the glass and the side of the rim. Janay Brantley hit a step back on the Cats’ next possession, but was inside the line and it was good for two. Ava Edmond got a hand in the face of Delaney More on defense and forced a miss from deep.
Brantley missed from three point range as well but the Riders threw a pass out of bounds for a turnover. Williams came back down for Ichabod Crane with a tough shot over Edmond for two. She then found Ames on a cross-court pass and Ames knocked down the three this time.
Brantley blocked a shot on defense by More, and got to the foul line to make two shots at the other end to cut the lead to 8-7. Then she fed Edmond with a pass on the fastbreak and Edmond gave them the lead 9-8 with the layup in transition.
Williams answered however with a second chance shot for two points for Ichabod Crane. Edmond went for a block on an attempt by Williams, was called for the foul, but Williams missed both free throws. Carolina Williams stayed aggressive on defense though, stole an inbound pass by Aaliyah Shook, and hit a shot over Brantley and off the glass for another two.
Shook missed a three pointer as the first quarter closed and the Riders led the Cats, 14-9, after one.
Janay Brantley knocked down a midrange jumper over Delaney More for two, but More responded with a bucket and the foul for the Riders. More would miss the free throw however, and Brantley worked the give-and-go to Kaylee Nearey, and then Nearey passed back to Brantley for the lay-in.
Carolina Williams answered with a floater from the side of the backboard over Nearey for Ichabod Crane. On their next possession, Alexa Barkley tried a three but Williams caught it underneath as it fell short and she laid it up and in for two and a 20-13 Riders lead.
With that two-point shot, Carolina Williams reached over 1,000 points for her basketball career at Ichabod Crane so far. Ames pulled up in the lane on the Riders’ next opportunity at offense, and flicked her wrist to hit the floater and give them a nine point lead at the 4:50 mark to the tune of a timeout.
Out of the stoppage, Brantley hit a jump shot over Emma Holmberg for two points as the Cats looked to chip away at the deficit on the scoreboard. Shook and Brantley each made a jumper for Catskill, and Williams and More combined to go three for four at the foul line as the game neared halftime. Ames laid one up and in to put the lead back to eight to close out the quarter, and the Riders led, 28-20, at the break.
Kaylee Nearey opened the third period with a tough shot she had to force through contact in the middle of a double team. Nearey got the foul call and the shot went in, but she did not complete the three point play at the line. Williams lost the dribble on a drive along the baseline for Ichabod Crane, and Brantley put it up and in at the other end to cut the lead to 28-24 just 90 seconds in.
Ava Edmond returned to action more prominently as the third began after getting into foul trouble early, and put back a missed three by Salierno on the second chance shot for the Cats. Edmond made her presence known again and forced a steal near midcourt for Catskill, and Aaliyah Shook drained a three pointer to give them a 29-28 lead.
Carolina Williams answered at the other end with a bucket and a foul as she fought through a triple team under the basket, and completed the three point play with the free throw. Brantley then drew attention on a drive to the hoop down low, and dished back to Nearey who knocked down the jumper for two from the middle of the paint.
Alexa Barkley was called for the foul on a swat attempt on a shot by Shook, and Shook made one of two at the line. Brantley secured a rebound on defense this time on a miss by the Riders, and got the bucket and the foul on the fastbreak and made the free throw as Ichabod Crane took a timeout. Williams was fouled and made her way to the line, making two foul shots to cut the Cats’ lead to 35-33 with 2:22 left in the third.
Following another timeout, Brantley and More each made two shots at their respective foul lines. Salierno hit a long jumper for Catskill with her foot on the three point line so it counted for a two from the corner. Brantley blocked a shot on defense by Malati Culver and drew a foul on a drive at the other end, making one of two at the line.
After Williams made one of two shots at the line as well, Culver was fouled by Kaylee Nearey and she missed both, but that was Nearey’s fifth and she fouled out with just under a minute left in the third. Catskill outscored Ichabod Crane 20-6 in the third and took a 40-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
Williams started off the fourth with a putback on her own miss for a Riders two and they were within a basket once again. Edmond was fouled on a shot underneath and she missed the first but made the second. Delaney More got called for a travel under the hoop and her make was waved off as a result.
Stevie Arp was whistled for an offensive foul for a Catskill turnover, but Ichabod Crane was called for another traveling violation, this time by Ashley Ames. Brantley would not let the Cats go scoreless on another possession and she drove in and knocked down the layup.
A timeout was taken with 5:57 remaining, the Cats up 43-38, and Janay Brantley sitting on four fouls. Once play resumed, Brantley drew in the defense on a drive down the lane and kicked it out to Salierno on the perimeter and she buried the three for Catskill. Brantley took a three herself at the end of the shot clock on the Cats’ next possession, and drained it from beyond the arc for a nine point lead.
She hit another shot inside for two points this time, but Barkley answered with a three point shot for the Riders on the other end. Emma Holmberg came up big with a massive rejection on a three point attempt by Aaliyah Shook, but Ichabod Crane still trailed Catskill by eight with just 2:55 to go. The Riders showed their resilience as Williams drove past Edmond for another lay-in.
Following a timeout, Catskill got their biggest defensive play of the game from Ava Edmond as she chased down Carolina Williams on a fastbreak after a miss by Brantley, and stripped the ball clean for a steal. After a pair of missed free throws by Delaney More, the lead started to look insurmountable for the Riders.
Brantley knocked down a pair of foul shots to get the lead back to eight with under a minute remaining. Janay Brantley sank another four free throws, along with a pair by Aaliyah Shook, down the stretch to close things out and defeat the Ichabod Crane Riders 60-49.
Catskill’s coach Chris Quinn continues to be impressed by what this team has done all season. “Just an incredible effort from our girls,” Quinn said, “they all stepped up and contributed. Obviously Janay carried the load and just played an incredible game. I’m proud she put on such a show on the big stage as she always does.”
Coach Quinn recognized the tough fight that the Riders gave them in this semifinal game, after the classic game they had to end the regular season a few weeks ago. “The girls again, never flinched after being down by eight at the half. Congrats to Dave (Ames) and his girls because they’ve put together a heck of a two year run.” “Foul trouble hurt us with Ava Edmond and Kaylee Nearey missing significant minutes, but Stevie Arp and Tazyiah Green balled out in their place. We made a small offensive adjustment and a huge defensive adjustment which they handled like pros; to outscore that Ichabod team 40-21 in the second half shows how hard our girls executed and played.”
Catskill will put its undefeated streak on the line in the Section II Class B Championship game against Albany Academy on Thursday at 7:45 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
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