Watkins wins state championship at buzzer
TROY-The Watkins Glen girls varsity basketball team won the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship game, Sunday, March 19 at Hudson Valley Community College.
The Watkins girls claim the New York state title with a 22-2 season record and a victory over Port Jefferson 65-63, Sunday.
Hannah Morse sunk the game winning shot for Watkins Glen as the buzzer ended the game, helping the team capture their first state title in school history.
The big story in the game was the 28 point fourth quarter, which allowed the Senecas to overcome the 16 point deficit they faced at the end of the third quarter. The Schuyler County girls trailed every quarter except the fourth.
The game began with Watkins' strong defense challenging Port Jefferson. The Senecas had a 5-0 lead early, while PJ struggled to find the net. With some adjustments however, PJ got on the board with their first two points and pushed ahead to a 15-10 advantage at the end of the first.
Early in the second, Ryanna LaMoreaux, Emmie Bond and Taylor Kelly each scored for Watkins Glen to tie things up, 16-16. PJ charged ahead though, and at one point was ahead by seven points. The second quarter closed with Watkins down by five points, 29-24.
The third quarter really tested the Senecas. Although at first a basket by Morse narrowed the lead to three, PJ quickly scored two and then three points to distance themselves 34-26. Again, Kelly, Morse and Bond worked to keep the score close, 38-34, before PJ hit their stride. Free throws, combined with a number of baskets and a late three-pointer greatly expanded their lead, 53-37, to close the third quarter.
The fourth quarter would be a very different story.
Mariah Gonzalez began the Watkins scoring onslaught in the fourth by recording a free throw. That was followed up by a Clara Chedzoy basket to bring the score to 53-40. A PJ three looked to kill the momentum, but Gonzalez and Chedzoy combined to sink eight unanswered points.
A huge three-pointer by senior Amanda Pike brought the Senecas within striking distance, 56-51.
Morse was then fouled and able to net both shots to narrow that margin to three, 56-53.
The ball moved back to the Royals half of the court and they capitalized with a free throw of their own to stay up 57-53. However, Watkins Glen pushed closer as Gonzalez was fouled and hit both shots making the score 57-55.
The Royals answered with a basket and a made foul shot. Pike was then sent to the line and sunk a pair of singles to go 60-57.
PJ came back with two points of their own, before Pike hit another three to bring the score to 62-60.
Then came the fouls in the closing minute. Kelly had a free throw for Watkins to make it a one-point game. PJ then got a chance at the charity line to make it 63-61.
Next was Pike for Watkins, and she nailed both attempts at the line to tie the game at 63.
Morse won the game with a short shot as time ran out.
Pike led with 17 points in the game. Bond had 12. Kelly and Chedzoy each recorded nine. Morse and Gonzalez scored eight, and LaMoreaux two.
This season marked a third constitutive Section IV Class C title for Watkins Glen, a state regional win, a state "Final Four" appearance and ultimately the first state title in program history.
As the basketball team made their way back home on the bus an escort began with the Ovid Fire Department. By the time they made it to Watkins Glen the impressive lineup turned into a parade to the field house at the school. Fans greeted the newest Class C state champions and a celebration was held in the gym.
Photos by: Gregory Fisher for the REVIEW&EXPRESS.