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Salmon River advances past Hammond

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POTSDAM - Abby Kelly buried three three-pointers in the second quarter and scored 25 points leading Salmon River to a 50-35 win over Hammond in the first of two Overall Section 10 semi-final games at SUNY Potsdam, on Tuesday night.

Afterwards, teammate Aliyah Cook was asked to comment on the junior guard’s outstanding shooting performance.

Cook said simply “Abby always shoots great and our team chemistry is really strong. That is why everything went so well tonight.”

Kelly also played a key role in the constantly converging defensive tactics by Salmon River which limited Hammond’s 2013 Jan Reetz Award recipient Alyssa Crosby to seven points which all came in the first half. Crosby turned in a very strong game on the defensive boards with eight rebounds.

“Alyssa Crosby is an outstanding player and we knew that we had to double team her everytime she got the ball,” said Salmon River Coach Karen Francis.

“We had a change our defense a few times but the girls did a very good job. Offensively were outstanding in the first half. We got the ball to Abby Kelly in the right places for her shots.”

The Shamrocks will look for that chemistry, defense and sharp shooting to become a strength again on Friday as they meet NAC Central League rival and Class C Champion Canton in the overall Section 10 Championship at SUNY Potsdam at 5:30 p.m.

Canton advanced with a 41-39 victory over Massena in the other semi-final game.

Against Hammond, the Shamrocks (16-5) answered two first-quarter three-pointers by Hammond’s Gabby Marshall, to take a 15-10 lead on a three-pointer by Kelly and stretched the margin to 17-10 when Jaiden Mitchell converted a fastbreak layup at the buzzer.

Kelly erupted for 13 points in the second quarter finishing smoothly from the perimeter off excellent passes while Cook (13 rebounds) and Kwiio King (7 rebounds, 4 assists, eight points) controlled the defensive boards and controlled timely offensive rebounds.

“Aliyah Cook missed the first half of the season and is starting to come on strong now,” said Francis.

“Playing for the overall title is big plus for us became our girls need to to play together as much as they can.”

The Shamrocks played very well together upping their lead to 48-30 after in third quarter where Jaiden Mitchell (7 points, 4 assists) and Taylor Francis (5 points, 4 assists) each scored five points. Hammond’s reserves provided a bright spot as the Devils in the fourth quarter.

Sparked by four points from Cassi Whalen (8 points) and two blocks by Holly Ogden, the Devils managed to cut the difference to 11 points with three minutes remaining but could get no closer.

“Late in the third quarter it looked to me like Alyssa (Crosby) tweaked her ankle so I went with the reserves and they did a nice job. If they could have hit some free throws we could have made it closer.” said Dack.

“We call Cassi Whalen and Holly Ogden the twin towers when they are in together. Holly is just a freshman but knows the game very well and tonight she ran the floor extremely well. Salmon River played very well tonight, we needed to come out much strong against Abby Kelly.”

Coach Dack is looking for is 20-2 team to regain its season-long momentum on Tuesday when Hammond hosts the Section 7 Class D Champions (Elizabethtown-Lewis or Moriah) in the first round of the state tournament at SUNY Potsdam.

Marshall hit three first-half threes to lead Hammond with nine points and Mikayla Horton (4 rebounds) scored her seven points in the second half. Taylor Bowman and Emily Bush each scored two points and Brianne Langtry added two steals.

Zaagaate Jock added two points for the Shamrocks who have drawn a first round bye in the states and will play in the Class B regional finals on March 9 at a Section 2 site.

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