Reigning girls' champions lined up for repeats
Reigning Seciton II champions made out well when the brackets for the Section II girls’ basketball tournament were drawn up Wednesday.
Shaker (Class AA), Averill Park (Class A), Hoosic Valley (Class C) and Fort Edward (Class D) all are projected to repeat as postseason champions. Watervliet, which lost in the Class B final to Hoosic Valley in 2011, got the No. 1 seed in Class B.
The tournament opens Friday with preliminary-round games in the two biggests brackets, Classes B and C.
As if Shaker needed any further validation of its 2011 Class AA championship, the Lady Bison knocked off Shenendehowa last week to force a tie for the top spot in both the Suburban Council’s North Division and overall championships.
“It was big for our confidence,” said Shaker coach Emily Caschera-Blowers, whose team beat Albany in one 2011 semifinal. Colonie eliminated returning champ Shenendehowa in the other. “Shenendehowa has always represented a different hurdle for us. To be able to split our games with them, and with both games being good, competitive games, I think that shows the girls how good we are.”
Shaker’s 58-55 home victory over the Lady Plainsmen last Friday was the Lady Bison’s first over its rival from Clifton Park since the 2000-01 season, covering 23 games.
Shaker’s reward was seeing a coin toss flip last season’s projected semifinal pairings.
“The first tiebreaker was head-to-head, and we split,” said Caschera-Blowers, whose team was 15-1 in league play, 16-2 overall, during the regular season. “The next one was a coin flip. Ken [Shenendehowa coach Ken Strube] called heads, it landed on tails, and we got the No. 1 seed.”
And a top bracket that includes another big rival, Colonie.
“The last two years, the top seed has gotten upset,” said Caschera-Blowers. “The girls are aware of that, and we’re working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen this year.”
Averill Park’s repeat run to a state championship game impressed the committee enough to put the Warriors on top in Class A ahead of Scotia-Glenville, last year’s top seed which fell in the semifinals.
“Averill Park won last year and returned everbody. I don’t have any problem with them being No. 1 and us being No. 2,” said Scotia coach Regan Burns, whose team was unbeaten in the Foothills Council and had non-league wins over Catholic Central and Hoosic Valley. “I think our non-league schedule, and Holy Names’ losing to Ravena, solidified our spot ahead of Holy Names.”
Hoosic Valley drops back to the Class C enrollment this season, giving Watervliet — Section II’s only unbeaten team — the top spot in Class B. The Lady Cannoneers joined Averill Park and Shenendehowa as sectional and regional champions two years ago.
Tamarac drew the No. 2 seed in the 19-team Class B bracket, with Cohoes and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk the other projected semifinalists.
Voorheesville, year’s Class C winner, is the No. 2 seed, followed by Patroon Conference champ Maple Hill and Greenwich.
Argyle, Heatly and Fort Ann got the next three seeds in Class D.