From the worst of times to the best of times.
Salmon River crossed that chasm to defeat OFA 52-47 and win its third straight Section 10 Class B Championship in the third of three girls basketball title games at SUNY Potsdam on Friday.
The Shamrocks (15-5) claimed the coveted trifecta and a berth in the overall Section 10 Final Four opposite Class D Champion Hammond (Tuesday 5 p.m. at SUNY Potsdam) by totally reversing the flow of a one-sided loss at OFA three weeks ago. Massena and Canton will be play in Tuesdays second game after the NAC Awards presentation.
Salmon River Coach Karen Francis said it was a matter of fundamentals and correcting mistakes which allowed the Shamrocks to reverse two losses in NAC Division play.
We really did a good job switching our defenses tonight. We had to do that because OFA has such great three-point shooters, said coach Francis.
And we were very patient with the ball when we ran our offense. We got some nice baskets inside and we also cut down our turnovers.
The Shamrocks snatched a 13-11 lead on a three-pointer by Abby Kelly at the end of the first quarter and held the lead the rest of the contest.
An inside conversion by Taylor Francis created the biggest margin, at 43-34 midway through the fourth quarter, and Kelly capped a 25-point outing by hitting four straight free throws in the final 1:13 to deny the Devils (14-6) who received two long three-pointers by Riley Luckie and Meg Dodge to fuel a rally down the stretch.
Dodges second three of the quarter cut the lead to 50-47 with 12.6 seconds to play and Kelly sealed the issue with two free throws with six seconds remaining.
Kelly said that the third sectional title was very special after the Shamrocks weathered a superb shooting performance by Luckie who went 4-6 from well beyond the arch scoring 20 points and passed out four assists and Felicia Barrs 11 points on 5-7 shooting with 11 rebounds.
This was such a great win because it came from everyone. We worked all week on running our plays and we did a great job, said Kelly who consistently converted in the lane off nice bounce passes and delivered six rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Our forwards really did a great job tonight, they really hit the boards.
Aliyah Cook led the boardwork grabbing 15 rebounds and scoring six points and Kwiio King tallied 11 points with eight rebounds. King also netted the most timely inside connection when her shot from directly under the basket painstakingly crawled over the rim and dropped for a 48-42 lead with just over a minute to play. Taylor Francis finished eight points, four steals and two blocks and Zaagate Jock scored two points.
Salmon River played very hard tonight and they really outrebounded us. We made a lot of mini runs but just when it appeared we would get over the top they got key baskets, said OFA Coach Lynn Blevins.
But we had a great season. The team played very well together and Shannon Tooley, Felicia Barr and Jocelyn Fifield gave us excellent senior leadership. Meg Dodge gave us another strong defensive effort tonight but Abby Kelly had a great game.
Tooley buried three jumpers which sustained OFA mini runs in scoring six points with five rebounds and four assists. Dodge finished with seven points and Courtney Sherwin added four points.