Reprinted with permission from The Times Union
HUDSON – The more Hudson girls’ basketball coach Brice Ivery called for a timeout in the second half Saturday night, February 22, the further his Bluehawks fell behind and the more confident a young contingent from Ichabod Crane became.
The Riders, featuring just one returning starter in senior standout Madison Graham along with three sophomores and three freshmen, produced the kind of second-half playoff performance usually reserved for senior-laden squads.
Although it wasn’t exactly a stellar offensive evening for the visitors, the Riders more than offset that by holding Hudson without a basket over the final 12 minutes. The Bluehawks only scored three points during that time as Ichabod Crane rallied for a 37-29 victory in Section II Class B first-round play.
The Riders (13-9), seeded No. 12, claimed their second sectional victory in three days and next travel to take on 2019 Section II Class B champion Mechanicville (17-4) Wednesday night in quarterfinal play.
Hudson (16-3) only scored seven points in the second half against Ichabod Crane’s active 2-3 zone.
“Is that all we gave up?” Ichabod Crane coach Adam Vooris asked when told. “At the beginning of the game, we asked the girls what they envisioned for today and most of them said ‘Defense.’ We were very active on defense. It was great.”
Hudson made just 2 of 23 attempts from the field after leading 26-19 midway through the third quarter. The Bluehawks also turned over the ball 16 times in the second half and committed 30 turnovers overall.
“At halftime, the score (to us) was 0-0 and we went out and played our best basketball,” Graham said. “All year, the 2-3 zone defense has been where it is at. It really was tonight. We got those steals in the post and got out and ran with them.”
Saturday’s defensive performance further exemplifies just how far and how much the Riders have grown since the start of practice in November. Ichabod Crane lost its first six games this season — three by wide margins against Holy Names, Schalmont and Cobleskill.
“It has been a complete 180,” Graham said. “If you had asked me on Senior Night, after six games I was in a different head space. I had different thoughts on how this (season’s) outcome would be. I am really proud of this team and, if anything, they taught me patience. My leadership skills have skyrocketed and I am really proud.”
“We took our lumps early, they got up to speed and we had a great break with no games over Christmas,” Vooris said. “We really focused in on who we are as a team and made sure when we show up on the court, that is what we get.”
Saturday, the Riders showed off their defensive prowess and took a 28-26 lead at the end of the third quarter on a steal and conversion by sophomore guard Abigail Dolge.
In the fourth quarter, Ichabod Crane used baskets from sophomore forward Malati Culver, freshman guard Ashley Ames, Graham and freshman forward Delaney More to gain separation as the Bluehawks missed all 12 of their attempts over the final eight minutes.
“One of our game plans going into the game was to pack the middle as much as we can because we knew they didn’t have a very strong 3-point shooter,” Graham said. “We knew they would drive and try to draw fouls, so we packed the defense in on drives.”
“Malati Culver played awesome defense in the second half. I don’t know how may steals she had, but it had to be a lot. She was right where she needed to be, whether it was on the offensive end or the defensive end.”
Since the Christmas break, Ichabod Crane has amassed a 13-3 record and look to keep its playoff push going Wednesday.
“We just like playing together and want to continue,” Vooris said.