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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 10, 2011

Lady Birds outlast Indians for Class C title

By Jordan J. Michael

TROY –– Basketball teams far and wide could have learned a thing or two from watching Voorheesville and Cambridge fight it out for the girls’ Class C championship last Saturday.

Quickly, the ball bounced up and down each end of the court at Hudson Valley Community College, only coming to rest for the slightest moment. Turnovers piled up at times, but only because the game was so intense and fueled.

“That was a fun game of basketball,” said Voorheesville Head Coach Bob Baron after his team won, 56 to 53. “It looked and felt like a real game. That’s the way it’s meant to be.”

Cambridge led by one point, 51 to 50, with about two minutes remaining in regulation play after the Indians’ Sara Tironi made a three-pointer, but then Voorheesville senior Brittanie Denman made her sixth and final three-pointer of the game. Alexis Case tied the score at 53 to 53 with a jumper off the bounce, but sophomore Anna Feller put the Blackbirds up for good with a nice jump shot of her own.

With under a minute left, Molly Lauver put up a shot for the Indians, hitting the side of the backboard, and bouncing to the Birds. Sarah Madden went to the free-throw line with 10 seconds left, but missed the shot. Sandra Andrew rebounded for Cambridge, but Voorheesville senior Jane Pritchard stole the ball, sealing the title win.

“I had to get that ball,” Pritchard said of the steal afterwards. “I could tell that Sarah was getting psyched out at the line, so I was ready for it.”

Pritchard and Denman made sensible senior plays throughout the game. Denman, named Class C Most Valuable Player, rained three-pointers at key moments and finished with 20 points.

“I’m not going to be selfish, but, if it feels right, I’ll shoot,” said Denman, who had been having back problems, seeing a chiropractor before the game. “The footing felt right. I wanted this so badly.”

“We finally got our shooting back,” Baron said. “Everyone was in a great frame of mind and everybody stepped up.”

That’s what the Lady Birds bring –– everybody –– all nine players. Most teams have a starting five and a few bright spots off the bench, but Voorheesville can hit opponents with nine different angles.

And it used to be 10 players. Junior Jen Cillis went down for the season with a knee injury three weeks ago and, at the time, she was the team’s leading scorer. Everyone else has been hauling the cargo since. She was there on Saturday, on crutches, to cheer her team on.

“This is an all-around team,” said Baron. Mariel McGinnis, Emily Blow, Jillian Clark, and Malarie McGinnis all provided solid minutes off the bench on Saturday and Voorheesville never lost a step. “They all bring something strong to the table, especially on defense,” Baron continued. “We always have fresh legs.”

After clinching the Class C championship, Denman and Pritchard told The Enterprise that their team had felt alienated by the rest of Class C. “Other schools were saying that we didn’t deserve the number-one seed, but we earned it,” Denman said.

The Class C field had 10 teams with a better record than the Blackbirds, but Voorheesville plays in the Colonial Council during the regular season against Class A and B schools.

“We got a ton of motivation from all the seed talk,” said Pritchard. “We’re very confident and we play a tough schedule. The committee saw that, we know.”

“People were throwing negative things at us,” said Denman. “It feels even better to win with a target on your back. We completed it.”

The Lady Birds (15-7), representing Section II, get a first-round bye in the Class C Regionals as the second seed. The team will play either Lake Placid or Madrid-Waddington this Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College at 3 p.m.

Last Saturday marked the second Class C final in three years for Voorheesville since Baron took over coaching the team four seasons ago. The Blackbirds lost a close game to Hoosic Valley in 2009.

Pritchard, the only player left from the 2009 team, couldn’t handle losing again. “That would have been really bad,” she said. “It’s my last chance.”

Baron said that the experience of being in the finals in 2009 helped the 2011 team, even if only one player remained. “It’s a wonderful thing,” he said with a smile. “We focused.”

The Birds will celebrate a Class C title, but not too much, Pritchard said.

“Go back to work,” Pritchard said. “We’re happy right now, but not completely satisfied.”

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