Panthers and Indians Crowned Wasaren Champions


The Wasaren basketball championships played out Monday in Mechanicville and both the boys and girls contests gave the packed house it’s monies worth with each game being decided late.  At night’s end Hoosick Falls came away with a 55-52 decision over Waterford in the boys title run and the Cambridge girls held off Tamarac and posted the 56-48 “W” in the nightcap.  

The opening game brought together the Hoosick Falls Panthers, who seemingly haven’t lost a league game since the Bush administration, and the Fordians of Waterford who played their best basketball at the end of the regular season.

Waterford started quickly running out to an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes on a pair of Mike Castracani drives, and jumpers from TJ Kelley and Michael Talavera.

But midway through the period the Panthers got on the board when Isiah Burnett and Dimitri Rose bottomed triples on back to back possessions as the Falls closed the quarter on a 12-2 run taking a 12-10 lead into the second frame.

A Max Kipp runout at the 3:00 mark of the second gave Hoosick Falls the lead at 18-17, but it was Waterford’s turn to finish the period in style and they did so with the long ball as Talavera, Kelley and Bobby Valogorski all connected from deep to close out the half, sending the teams to the break with the Fordians leading 26-22.

After an even third period that ended with Waterford holding a 38-35 advantage, the Fordians played most of the fourth with the lead.

Waterford held a 45-40 cushion with 3:15 remaining when Kipp scored on a  runout and on the Panthers next possession a Burnett bucket trimmed the lead to 45-44 with 2:45 left.

Valigorski connected on an off balance release for Waterford that was answered by a Jon Kempf triple from the top, knotting the score at 47-47 with 1:44 left to play.

A pair of Kempf free throws with :59 remaining gave the Falls the lead at 49-47, and after an empty Fordian possession it was Kempf again converting on two from the stripe and the Panthers led 51-47.

A Talavera deuce brought Waterford to within two at the :30 mark, and quickly the Fordians gave the foul sending Kipp to the line.  The junior guard calmly knocked down both attempts and with five ticks on the clock Kempf sealed things with two more from the line and Hoosick Falls claimed it’s Wasaren championship.

Talavera led four Fordians in doubles scoring 15 points, with Talavera, Kelly and Castracani all adding 11.

Kipp and Kempf paced the Panther attack with 15 and 14 points with Kempf going a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line.

The girls game saw Cambridge dominate the first eight minutes of play fueled by the longball.  The Indians bottomed four from distance with Ruth Nolan being the first to ring the bell drilling a corner three to give Cambridge an early 7-2 lead.

Back to back triples midway through the quarter from Lily Phillips and Stasia Epler extended the Cambridge advantage to 16-4, and Nolan scored the last five points of the period on a run-out and a hit from downtown as the Indians took a 24-6 lead to the second.

Two minutes into the frame an Epler jumper gave Cambridge it’s largest lead of the night at 31-8, but from there the Bengals gained their footing.

A free throw and a transition bucket by Syrita Faraj and seven points from Emily Erickson highlighted a 13-6 Bengal spurt to close the quarter, trimming the Indians cushion to 37-21 at the break.

Tamarac continued it’s comeback with consecutive steals and scores by Erickson and Faraj to open the third forcing a quick Cambridge timeout.

Later in the period a pair of Erickson free throws at the 3:45 mark cut the Cambridge lead to 41-33, the first time Tamarac had trailed by single digits since the opening minutes.

Epler drilled a triple on the ensuing possession for the Indians, but Tamarac closed the quarter on a 5-0 run and trailed 44-38 with eight minutes left.

The final frame began with an inside bucket from the Bengals’ Jordyn Sorel as Tamarac looked to come all the way back.

But Cambridge would have none of it, quickly regaining control over the next two minutes on a trio of strikes from downtown with Nolan, Lily and finally Epler connecting from deep, giving the Indians a 54-40 advantage, more than enough for Cambridge to close things out and earn the Wasaren crown.

Erickson finished with 21 points with Faraj adding 14 to lead the Bengals offensively.

The Indians placed three players in doubles with Lily scoring 17 points, Epler 16 and Nolan 14 points, all connecting multiple times from deep, part of 10 made triples by Cambridge in the win.








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