TROY - The Johnstown Lady Bills trailed Tamarac by just four entering halftime, but saw their title aspirations slip away in the second half of the Section II Class B championship game.
The Lady Bengals led by 11 after three quarters and held a 15-point advantage midway through the fourth before claiming the Class B crown 53-45 at Hudson Valley Community College Saturday.
After trailing by 18 at halftime in a battle against Tamarac earlier in the season, Johnstown head coach Tim Derwin said his team's goal this time around was to not get in a big hole early. The Lady Bills were up to the challenge in the first quarter.
Tamarac’s Jenna Erickson (11) brings the ball up court guarded by Johnstown’s Megan Anagnostopulos (12) during the Section II Class B Championship on Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. (The Leader-Herald/Shaun Anich)
Hope Cerasuolo converted Johnstown's first bucket of the game, a two-point jumper, while Megan Anagnostopulos tallied five in the frame including a three-pointer. The Lady Bills were able to nullify the effectiveness of Tamarac's leading scorers, Jenna Erickson and Adiya Henderson, en route to outscoring the Lady Bengals 11-7.
Erickson sprang to life in the second to lead an eight-point swing that gave Tamarac the lead for good. After scoring points that evened the score on two occasions early in the quarter, Erickson hit two free throws to put Tamarac up 15-13. The senior scored 10 in the quarter and combined with Henderson for all 14 of Tamarac's points, while Johnstown struggled to hang onto the basketball.
The Lady Bills turned the ball over nine times in the second, compared to just two giveaways for the Lady Bengals. Brianne O'Rourke hit a jumper over Henderson near the end of the quarter to cap a six-point output for the Lady Bills and pull them within four at 21-17.
Class A Championship
Averill Park 65, Queensbury 44
Class B Championship
Tamarac 53, Johnstown 45
Class C Championship
Hoosic Valley 51, Greenwich 40
Class D Championship
Fort Edward 43, Fort Ann 39
"They're an awful good team and I knew it was just a matter of time before they were going to settle in and score some points," Derwin said. "You can't expect to play that team and not have them score. I just thought there were dry spells in our game for different periods and it hurt us."
Erickson was back at it in the third for Tamarac. The point guard used her small stature and quickness to slip into the lane for four easy layups in the frame and added one free throw to complete an and-one opportunity. Henderson and Deirdre Werner each chipped in four in the quarter.
Five girls registered points in the third for the Lady Bills, including Cerasuolo whose two free throws were her first baskets since knocking down Johnstown's opening hoop. Erickson locked down Johnstown's leading scorer for the majority of the game until Cerasuolo had some success against Henderson in the fourth.
"We talked at halftime about different ways to get her more looks in the second half," Derwin said. "They made a switch and put Henderson on her and I think that was a mismatch when we were out on the perimeter with her."
Cerasuolo poured in 10 in the fourth, including a pair of jumpers. Erickson and Henderson matched her early, combining for six points before Samantha Casle laid one up and in to put Tamarac up by 15. Johnstown went on an 8-2 run soon after to cut into the deficit, but it was too little too late for the Lady Bills.
Both squads were masterful from the free-throw line Saturday. Tamarac converted 18 of 21 free throws for an 86 percent showing, only to be bested by an 18 of 20 display by Johnstown. Cerasuolo led Johnstown with 14 points, while Anagnostopulos and Stock also finished with double-digit point totals. Cerasuolo and Anagnostopulos were named to the all-tournament team. Cerasuolo averaged 17.3 points during Johnstown's four-game run and Anagnostopulos averaged 6.3 while running the Lady Bills' offense.
Erickson led all scorers with 24, followed by Henderson, who tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds. Henderson also garnered all-tournament team honors while Erickson was named tournament MVP.
Johnstown finishes its season with a 15-7 overall record. All season, Derwin has talked about his team's epic work ethic both on the court during games and in practice.
"I've been around a long time, and this is by far my hardestworking team. The attitudes, the leadership, just the way they went about this game - the workmanlike manner that they approached it with," Derwin said. "They didn't want to lose today. It's been a great ride and they made a great run, but we met a better team today."
Tamarac 53, Johnstown 45
Tamarac7 21 17 15 - 53
Johnstown11 6 10 18 - 45
Erickson 8-8-24, Henderson 5-6-16, Casale 2-0-4, Werner 1-2-4, Gavin 1-0-3, Mitchell 0-2-2. Totals 17-18-53.
Cerasuolo 4-6-14, Stock 3-5-11, Anagnostopulos 2-5-10, Nellis 2-0-4, O'Rourke 2-0-4, McCoy 0-2-2. Totals 13-18-45.
3-point goals: Tamarac 1 (Gavin); Johnstown 1 (Anagnostopulos).