Whitehall girls win, eye finals
It’s no secret that the Whitehall girls basketball team’s calling card is defense. Head coach Boyd Hunt places heavy emphasis on being able to shut opponents down.
When they add hot shooting into the mix they are pretty close to impossible to contend with, and that was the case Friday night at Averill Park High School.
Leading 28-25, the second-seed Railroaders nailed four consecutive 3-pointers early in the third quarter to take a 15-point lead and went on to top six-seed Warrensburg, 58-43, in the Section II Class C semifinals.
“That was the game,” Hunt said. “We pounded it inside enough to where they started to shrink then they left us the three and we popped it.”
Although scoring nearly 60 points was impressive, Hunt made his opinion clear when asked if he could live with allowing an opponent to reach the forties when the offense was rolling.
“I can and can’t. It’s still a focal point of what we do,” Hunt said about his squad’s defense.
Jayden Hughes lit the spark by connecting on the first of the decisive treys. Madison Gould followed with back-to-back 3-pointers, then Hughes dropped in another to complete the 12-0 run.
Gould made a foul shot to open the game, then didn’t score again until going off for 15 points in the second half, nine in the fourth quarter.
“Madi’s tough. She made that one where she just pulled up. That was big,” Hunt said.
“In practice we worked on going inside out, so hitting our bigs and having them find us on the out,” Gould said. “That’s what worked in our last game we played Warrensburg. So we figured if we just did that we’d get the shots we needed eventually.”
Whitehall won the regular season meeting 35-33 on a late 3-pointer by Hughes, and it looked early on like this contest might also come down to the wire.
Warrensburg raced out to a 10-5 lead behind the strong play of Hope Sherman, Elli York and Karla Sherman. Hope Sherman scored half of the Burghers’ points as they closed the stanza with a 12-11 lead.
In the second Whitehall regained the lead at 15-13 on a gorgeous drive by Vinna Jensen. A pair of buckets by York put Warrensburg back on top 19-17, but a 7-0 spurt for the Railroaders led by Samantha Howland and Blake Bird made it 24-19.
Whitehall took a 26-23 advantage to the locker room at the half. Howland and Bird carried the load offensively in the first half for the Railroaders, combining for 20 points.
In the third, along with the 3-point barrage, the Railroaders ramped up their patented pressure defense, outscoring the Burghers 15-2 in the opening minutes.
“We torqued things up,” Hunt said. “We talked in the locker room and said it’s time to go put this game away and stop playing. You’re making them believe that they can be here. When we put the clamps on somebody we’re tough.”
Warrensburg pulled within 43-33 at the end of the frame with a 6-2 run, but never got within single digits again.
In the fourth a couple of plays stood out as Whitehall closed the game strong. Gould fired a bullet pass to Ashlyn Groesbeck on a backdoor cut for a beautiful basket. Also, after a steal Julia Arquette drove to the bucket, spun and found Howland for a layup.
Howland paced Whitehall with 17 points. Gould added 16 and Bird 12. Hughes chipped in eight.
York led the Burghers with 12 points. Hope Sherman and Karla Sherman added 10 each,
Whitehall moves on to meet top-seed defending champion Duanesburg at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy on Monday.
“It’s going to be a different beast on Monday,” Hunt said. “We’re going to have to lock up on them. We’ll see what happens.”
Warrensburg finishes the season 15-7.
Whitehall girls start slow, then roll
Maybe it was the fact that they’d beaten Hoosic Valley handily in the season opener? Possibly they were still drained from their Adirondack League title game win over Corinth? Whatever it was, to say the Whitehall girls basketball team got off to a slow start would be an understatement.
Fortunately the Railroaders still had a sizable lead at the half and found their mojo in the third as they pulled away to eliminate Hoosic Valley, 53-30, in the Section II Class C quarterfinals Tuesday night.
Even with the sluggish beginning Whitehall led 16-8 after a quarter and 27-11 at the half.
“We were very slow in the first half. It was pedestrian. Sometimes playing a team you beat that happens,” said Railroaders coach Boyd Hunt. “We actually had a really good practice yesterday. As lackluster as it was, it was still 27-11.”
Madison Gould scored 13 of her 17 points in the first half to help Whitehall fashion a comfortable advantage. Gould nailed a 3-pointer and completed an old-fashioned 3-point play after a sizzling drive to the basket in the second to give her team a spark.
“Madi looked really good tonight,” Hunt said. “She carried us a little bit in the first half. She’s been able to do that a little bit all year. When we struggle, she and sometimes Sam (Howland) carries us.”
In the third period the Railroaders came to life. Jayden Hughes scored eight points in the stanza, including a pair of treys, and Howland scored six as Whitehall took their biggest lead of the night to that point. The Railroaders led 43-21 heading to the fourth.
A 7-2 spurt to open the final period capped by a Howland 3-pointer extended the lead to 50-23. Hunt was able to rest his starters the rest of the way and even get his junior varsity players some playoff experience.
“We can’t play like that on Friday. It’s going to be a war on Friday,” Hunt said, referring to a semifinal matchup against league foe Warrensburg. The Railroaders edged the Burghers, 35-33, in their regular season meeting.
“I hope we can have some intensity,” Hunt said. “The intensity wasn’t there at the beginning of the game. We were very flat. I thought we had recovered from that in practice the last couple of days. Games and practices sometimes don’t translate.”
Howland joined Gould with 17 points for Whitehall. Hughes finished with eight and Blake Bird six.
Jaquelyn Carlo led Hoosic Valley with 14 points.
Whitehall is now 17-4 on the season.
Whitehall boys fall to Schoharie, 64-44
It certainly has been a rollercoaster ride this season for the Whitehall boys basketball team. After starting the year 0-4, the Railroaders reeled off wins in 11 of their next 12 games. Keith Redmond’s team was hampered by illness and injuries early on.
Whitehall battled back to fall just short of making the Adirondack League playoffs and was the hottest team in the circuit at the end of the season. Hopes were running high heading into sectional play, but a loaded Class C bracket would be difficult to navigate.
Last Wednesday seven-seed Whitehall saw its season come to a close in the Class C playoffs, falling at home to 10-seed Schoharie, 64-44.
The Indians accumulated only eight wins on the season, but they came into the tournament battle-tested. Schoharie competes in the Western Athletic Conference with the likes of Fonda, Duanesburg, Berne-Knox and Bishop Gibbons. That experience against tough competition paid off against the Railroaders.
Whitehall stayed close for a half but a 25-9 run through the third quarter proved to be the difference.
Matt Bernhardt netted 28 points to lead Schoharie. Preston DiGiovanni added 15 points.
Latrell Evans led the Railroaders with 17 points. Cash Burgey added 15.
Whitehall finished the season 13-8.
Schoharie improved to 9-12 and advanced to meet second-seed Hoosic Valley in the quarterfinals.