Shot at title falls short for Lady Bulldogs

BERNE — It was a sectional-like atmosphere in the small gym at Saratoga High School.

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo and Fonda-Fultonville girls’ basketball teams engaged in a battle in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Championship.

The came down to the wire, but a missed shot at the buzzer gave Fonda a 43-42 win.
"It was a good high school game," said BKW Coach Tom Galvin. "We knew it would be. We played an overtime game before and we beat them. I’m happy the kids responded. We were getting shots and doing what we needed to do. We got a look at the end. We fouled them and they made their shots. We’ll just have to knock that shot down next time. I’m happy with the way we responded."

BKW was the second-seeded team from the Southern Division after finishing in second place in the division. Fonda was the top seed from the Northern Division.

Nip and tuck

The game was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout.

BKW had a seven-point lead late in the second quarter. But Fonda came back to score the final 12 points of the quarter to take a 26-21 lead at the halftime intermission. The Lady Bulldogs had a two-point lead, 12-10, after the first quarter.

The teams battled in the third quarter and Lauren Ford’s drive to the basket with six seconds left in the quarter gave the Bulldogs a 35-33 lead.

BKW started off strong in the fourth quarter. Ford made a three-pointer and Jocelyn Mann scored inside to make the score 40-33.

Fonda came back with two foul shots, and an inside basket by Amy Hitchcock cut the lead back down to three points.

Hitchcock made a lay-up to cut the lead to one, but Ford answered for BKW with a strong drive to the basket.

Molly Sullivan made a pair of free throws for the Braves to cut the lead down to one with 1:40 left in the game. Sullivan was fouled again with 47 seconds left and made both free throws to give Fonda the lead.

Sullivan missed a foul shot and, after BKW’s Anna Kusler grabbed the rebound, a time-out was called with nine seconds left.

After the time-out, the ball was in-bounded to Andrea Van Dyke who moved the ball up the court and went down the right side and then toward the rim. She took a short jump shot but it glanced away from the rim as the buzzer sounded and Fonda escaped with the win.

"A challenge"
"It was a great atmosphere," Galvin said. "It was a great crowd. We played a tough team down to the end. We responded and did a nice job doing it. That is why we play a game like that. It’s a challenge. That is a goal of a game like that. And that’s what it did."

Ford led all scorers with 22 points. She was the lone Bulldog to reach double digits. Kusler added seven points.

Paula Egelston led Fonda with 15 points. Kaitlyn Baker scored nine points and Hitchcock, Sullivan, and Alyssa Novak each scored eight points for the Braves.
"Lauren Ford is coming into her own," Galvin said. "She scored 22 points, but she could have had 40 if she kept attacking the rim. It’s pretty evident she carried us. She has been our dominant scorer. She has gained a lot of confidence when she plays like that. I haven’t found a team that can stop her. And she provides us with senior leadership."

Galvin was also pleased with his team’s defense on Saturday night.
"Defensively, we were getting a little intensity," Galvin said. "We got down early, but we picked up the defensive intensity."

The Lady Bulldogs played in the consolation game against Saratoga Spa Catholic on Monday. They concluded the regular season with a 12-2 record in the Western Athletic Conference and have an overall record of 14-5. The Lady Bulldogs finished second in the standings after a tough loss to Schenectady Christian on Thursday night.
"Thursday, we didn’t play well," Galvin said. "But against Fonda we picked it up. I was happy we were able to do that. We did what we needed to do."

After Monday night’s game, the Lady Bulldogs concluded the regular season and waited to see where they would be seeded for the upcoming Class CC Section II playoffs. The seedings were announced Wednesday and the Lady Bulldogs are the number-three seed in Class CC. They will host Cambridge, the 15th seed, on Wednesday. With a win the Lady Bulldogs will move to the quarterfinals at Watervliet against possibly Voorheesville. Voorheesville, who is seeded sixth, plays host to Galway on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs will fill some of their lay-off time with a scrimmage against Amsterdam. The Rams are the top-ranked Class AA team in the state.
"We’ll take a couple of days off," Galvin said. "Then we’ll come back and scrimmage Amsterdam. That will be a challenge; it’ll be tough. They are probably the best in Section II. We’ll find out what we need to do in the sectionals."

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