Hammond, Canton Girls Advance To Section 10 Finals
BY DAVE SHEA
POTSDAM - The Hammond Girl Basketball program under Coach Shawn Dack, and his predecessor Coach Bob Gardner, has filled an enlarged trophy case at the school and covered expanses of the gym with banners including two tapestries for back-to-back New York State Class D Championships.
The only significant championship missing is an overall Section 10 Championship and the current Lady Red Devils can add that playoff title to the school's resume on Friday at SUNY Potsdam with a victory over defending champion Canton. The 6 p.m. start will be followed by the OFA Vs Malone Boys Championship Game.
The two winningest teams in Section 10 advanced on Wednesday with impressive victories.
Class D champion Hammond (23-1), which is currently ranked fourth in the state, won their 23rd straight game with a methodical 55-36 pull-away over Class A Champion Malone (13-9). Number 17 ranked Class B Champion Canton (19-3) used three outstanding defensive plays in the final 2:20 to quell a spirited comeback effort by Class C Champion St. Lawrence Central (11-12) 60-53.
"We didn't play Hammond this year and this should be an outstanding game. Hammond is a great team and they are shooting the ball very well," said Canton Coach Jim DiSalvo.
"We need to get out and run like we did tonight against St. Lawrence Central which played great."
Both teams feature elite level leadership.
CANTON'S CHISHOLM RECEIVES JAN REETZ AWARD
Hammond is led by senior Kelsey Bennett and junior Avery Kenyon who were honored on Wednesday as the Co-MVPs of the NAC West Division. Senior forward Kylie Vaugh and junior guard Hailey Cunningham were voted to the second team and freshman center Sadey Sprabary received the team's Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.
Canton features the senior guard tandem of Katie Chisholm and Sarah Sieminski who both earned All NAC Central First Team honors and a Second Team selection in guard Lexi Huiatt. Jillian DiSalvo received the team's Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.
Chisholm, the daughter of Scott and Martha Chisholm, was also named as the 2020 recipient of the Jan Reetz Award which is presented by the NNY Officials Board to the Outstanding Player in Section 10. She has played a lead role in three Section 10 Class B Championships and three NYS Sweet 16 games and one appearance in the New York State Final Four and earned Third Team All-State selection.
This season, the four year starter, is averaging 15.7 points per game and plans to play collegiately at St. Lawrence University.
"Katie's effort on the court is outstanding. She is a relentless worker and respects the game, the opposition and officials. She is well respected by her teammates and a constant leader on and off the court. She volunteers her time with our Canton Hoopsters Program as well as many school and community activities," said Canton Coach Jim DiSalvo.
Chisholm was chosen for the award from a group five outstanding finalists which also included teammate Sarah Sieminski, Hammond's Avery Kenyon, Malone's Leah Gallagher and SLC's Marissa McLean who were all involved in Wednesday's semi-final games.
NINE 3S KEY IN HAMMOND WIN OVER MALONE
Hammond used nine timely 3-pointers as a major key in their third win of the season over Malone. The Devils prevailed by four and six points in two nonleague games in the regular season but took an 18-13 first quarter lead and then pulled away with a 25-15 advantage in the second half.
Kelsey Bennett (4 assists, 3 steals) provided an early scoring spark hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter and finished with four 3s in a 16-point effort. Avery Kenyon buried two 3s in the third quarter where she scored 10 of her game-high 21 points.
Landree Kenyon continued to provide an offensive lift off the bench in the postseason scoring 10 points with two long 3-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds. Hailey Cunningham added six points and four assists to the victory and Kylie Vaugh added three points and six rebounds.
"The girls really locked in second half. Initially our collective intensity was missing but we adjusted that at halftime. But in first half our bench again sparked us. Kept us going. The girls also worked the clock well tonight," said Hammond Coach Shawn Dack.
"It's always a pleasure coaching and playing a Malone Huskie team. Always a challenge, they are always well coached. Coach Skelly has always pumped out quality teams. An awesome coach."
First Team All-NAC Central selection Leah Gallagher provided the bulk of the Malone scoring with a steady stream of interior jumpers and 7-8 free throw shooting in delivering a game-high 25 points. Another First Team selection Madison Ansari buried a 3-pointer late in the game to score her 1000th career point.
Second Team All-Star Caitlin Douglass scored six points on two first quarter 3s and Alana Dumas added two points.
"We played Hammond twice in the regular season in four and six point games. Tonight we just didn't play that way. Hammond has great shooters and we didn't make our defensive rotations," said Malone Coach Shelly Skelly.
"Leah Gallagher had a great game for us."
CANTON HOLDS OFF SLC COMEBACK EFFORT
In the second semi-final game of the night Canton was off and running throughout the game keyed by strong defensive rebounding and one-touch passes to find the trailer in the lane. Canton opened a 33-24 lead at the half and led 54-45 before the Larries, who earned a 9-6 edge in 3-pointers, rallied with some transition conversions of their own after celebrating Marissa McLean's 1000th career point.
Two strong conversions by Maggie Yandoh closed the gap to 56-52. But the Larries came up empty on four key possessions on three missed free throws, steals by Sarah Sieminski and Katie Chisholm and a block by Maddie Hoy.
A Mackenzie Moreau free throw cut the Canton lead to 57-53 with 46.9 seconds to play but Chisholm dropped in two free throws and the Bears sealed the issue with a defensive stop.
Sarah Sieminski sparked Canton's fast start by draining three 3-pointers in an 11-point first quarter and finished with four 3s in a game-high 21-point effort. Maddie Hoy buried two 3s in an eight-point third quarter and finished with 14 points as the frontcourt leader for the Bears who exploited a decided length advantage. Chisholm went 7-10 at the free throw line scoring nine points.
Lexi Huiat tallied six points on the break, Mary Lobdell added four points and Emily Wentworth and Ester Shipman each netted two points.
"St. Lawrence shot the ball and well and played great. They really tested us. We stayed wide on the break and did a good job with our running game," said Canton Coach Jim DiSalvo.
"We made the plays we needed at the end of the game."
NAC Central MVP Marissa McLean buried three 3s leading SLC with 16 points and joined the Section 10 1000-Point Circle. Mackenzie Moreau, Abby Lenieux and Rylee Daust all drilled two 3s scoring 12, eight and six points. Maggie Yandoh finished with 11 points with 10 in the second half.
"We gave up a lot of size but we really played well and hung in there. Missing three free throws at the end really hurt us but we certainly made them play," said SLC Coach Chad Gauthier.
"This was a good game for us. Perfect for getting ready for states."