CASTLETON-ON-HUDSON - After defeating Western Athletic Conference North Division rival Galway for a third time in the opening round, the Fort Plain girls basketball team was looking forward to facing unfamiliar opposition Friday.
The seventh-seeded Lady Hilltoppers came up short in the Section II Class C quarterfinals, dropping a 44-23 decision to host Maple Hill.
The Lady Hilltoppers looked up to the challenge that the 18-1 Lady Wildcats posed early, but Maple Hill outscored Fort Plain 30-6 in the middle quarters to earn the chance to face Greenwich in the Class C semifinals.
Fort Plain’s Haley Kilmartin (24) dribbles past Maple Hill’s Cameron Lankenau (40) during Friday’s Section II Class C quarterfinal game at Maple Hill High School. (The Leader-Herald/Shaun Anich)
Bri Florian and Abby Boyer each had four points in the first quarter for Fort Plain as they outscored Maple Hill 10-7. Maple Hill head coach Mark Bubniak was demonstrative on the sidelines, expressing obvious disappointment with his team following the first frame. Bella Nelson drilled a three-pointer on the Lady Wildcats' first possession of the second quarter to kick off a brilliant response to their leader. Maple Hill held Fort Plain to five points in the second while scoring 13 of their own.
"They went to the zone and their zone's a lot more active and a little bit longer than what we're used to seeing," Fort Plain Phil Karker said. "They kind of stopped us from going to the rim like we wanted to do and that hurt us a little bit."
Maple Hill's leading scorers took over in a third quarter that the Lady Wildcats won 17-1. Lindsay Mannion and Nelson alternated hoops, combining for 16 of the team's 17 points.
Class AA Quarterfinals
Shenendehowa 51, Catholic Central 44
Shaker 50, Guilderland 39
Albany 84, Columbia 53
Bethlehem 58, Niskayuna 31
Class C Quarterfinals
Hoosic Valley 48, Canajoharie 18
Greenwich 73, Mayfield 34
Maple Hill 44, Fort Plain 23
Lake George 57. Middleburgh 38
Class D Quarterfinals
Heatly 50, Argyle 30
Fort Edward 55, Germantown 34
Warrensburg 55, Hartford 37
Fort Ann 38, North Warren 32
Soren Shirley had Fort Plain's only point of the frame - a free throw. Mannion hit her first of two threes on her next trip down to put Maple Hill up by 15. The Lady Wildcats pushed their lead to 26-17 before cruising to the victory.
The Lady Hilltoppers, more often than not, go the way of their senior leaders and leading scorers Boyer and Haley Kilmartin. According to Karker, his team simply ran out of gas against one of the best teams in Class C.
"We got all we could out of our kids," Karker said. "We got the maximum out of them."
Kilmartin didn't convert a field goal in her final game at Fort Plain and finished with three points. She will continue her playing career at Morrisville State in the fall. Boyer had 12 points and pulled down eight boards while Florian, who will be a key figure for the Lady Hilltoppers as a senior next season, had seven points.
"This group is one of my favorites. Those two seniors, I can't say enough about those two kids," Karker said through tears. "I love them more than anything and I'm going to miss them a lot. Hopefully the younger kids will step up next year and we'll see what happens."
Greenwich and Maple Hill will clash in Cohoes on Tuesday with a trip to the finals on the line. The third-seeded Witches advanced with a 73-34 win over 11th-seeded Mayfield on Friday.
Maple Hill 44, Fort Plain 23
Fort Plain10 5 1 7 - 23
Maple Hill7 13 17 7 - 44
Boyer 4-4-12, Florian 3-1-7, Kilmartin 0-3-3, Shirley 0-1-1. Totals 7-9-23.
Nelson 8-0-17, Mannion 4-1-11, Hanrahan 3-0-6, Lankenau 2-0-4, Wolfe 1-2-4, Unser 1-0-2. Totals 19-3-44.
3-point goals: Maple Hill 3 (Mannion 2, Nelson); Fort Plain - none