JOHNSTOWN - With both teams looking for their first Foothills Council win, the Johnstown and Hudson Falls girls basketball teams battled for 32 minutes Wednesday at Johnstown High School.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Lady Tigers had rallied from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to post a 42-38 victory over the Lady Bills.
The win was just the second in six games for Hudson Falls and the loss was the third straight for Johnstown.
Johnstown’s Kelsi Barnholt (15)?looks to pass the ball as Hudson Falls’ Emily Forcier (10) defends during Wednesday’s Foothills Council girls basketball game at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
"To come to Johnstown and get a win is huge for us," Hudson Falls coach Greg Smith said. "The Foothills is a tough league. There's not a night off."
Nicole Sheloski scored 14 points to lead Hudson Falls, while Carleigh Batchelder, Hannah Girard and Sara Casey all finished with seven points.
"Nicole finally played like the all-star she could be," Smith said.
Courtney Cirillo and Kelsi Barnholt each had 10 points to lead Johnstown, while Hope Cerasuolo added seven points.
"We've got a lot of kids that can play," Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. "There are no easy games in the Foothills and 0-3 isn't where we want to be right now. We've just got to stick with it and take it one game at a time."
Wednesday's game was a battle from the outset as seven points was the largest lead for either team in a game that featured 19 lead changes or ties.
"It's always a battle when we come to Johnstown," Smith said. "Tim [Derwin] does an outstanding job with his team, we both know each other well and what each other is trying to do. It's always a grind it out game."
The first three minutes of the game saw he teams combine for just two field goals as every shot was contested, resulting in a combined total of 11 free throws in the early going.
Hudson Falls converted five of their six free throws in the opening frame, while Johnstown was just 1-for-5 as the Tigers took a 13-10 lead after eight minutes of play.
Johnstown rallied in the second quarter, outscoring Hudson Falls 9-2 to take a 19-15 lead into the half.
Alexis Swatt open the quarter with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 13-13, while Cerasuolo scored four points in the frame for the Lady Bills.
Hudson Falls' only points of the quarter came on a pair of free throws from Sheloski.
"With Ellie [Gonyeau] out, we're trying to find new ways to score," Smith said. "We've been struggling to score this season."
Johnstown maintained its lead throughout the third quarter, taking a 28-26 lead into the fourth.
Cirillo scored four points in the third to lead the Lady Bills.
Johnstown extended its lead to seven points with a 7-2 surge to start the final quarter, taking a 35-28 lead with 6:12 to play.
However, Hudson Falls chipped away at the lead, using a 10-0 run to grab a 38-35 lead with 1:39 to play.
"We had a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter and didn't hold on to it," Derwin said. "We had poor shot selection down the stretch and it hurt us. You can point to any number of things that we could have done better."
Six of those points came on free throws as the Lady Tigers, converted 8 of 10 in the fourth quarter and 19 of 26 for the game.
"We've been putting a big emphasis on free-throw shooting," Smith said. "We did a good job from the line tonight."
After a timeout, Johnstown knotted the game at 38-38 on a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Barnholt with 33.7 seconds to play.
Hudson Falls quickly regained the lead on a drive to the hoop by Batchelder who gave her team a 40-38 lead with 20.7 seconds left.
Johnstown's next possession ended with a missed shot and in the ensuing battle for the rebound, the Lady Bills' Emma Heroth was whistled for a foul. The foul was her fifth and sent Sheloski to the line.
Sheloski converted both free throws to seal the win for Hudson Falls (2-4 overall, 1-3 Foothills), which will host Hoosic Valley on Dec. 27.
Johnstown (2-4 overall, 0-3 Foothills) is off until Jan. 4 when it will host Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons at 5:30 p.m.
"We don't have a game until January," Derwin said. "So we're going to get in the gym and work at it."
Hudson Falls 42, Johnstown 38
Hudson Falls13 2 11 16 - 42
Johnstown10 9 9 10 - 38
Batchelder 1-5-7, Casey 2-3-7, Forcier 2-0-4, Girard 1-5-7, Heym 1-0-3, Sheloski 4-6-14. Totals 11-19-42.
Barnholt 3-1-10, Cerasuolo 3-1-7, Cirillo 3-4-10, Heroth 3-4-10, O'Rourke 0-2-2, Swatt 2-0-5. Totals 13-8-38.
3-point goals: Hudson Falls 1 (Heym); Johnstown 4 (Barnholt 3, Swatt).