TROY — Haldane has made an outrageous 17 appearances in the New York State girls basketball tournament, winning five titles, but on Saturday it was Chautauqua Lake that played like battle-tested veterans on the big stage.
The Thunderbirds, first-time visitors to states, completely dismantled their Section I opponents, winning the Class C semifinal, 61-39, before an estimated 800 at Hudson Valley Community College.
Chautauqua Lake (23-1) will take a 20-game winning streak into today’s 2:45 p.m. championship game championship against Hoosic Valley (19-4) of Section II.
The Indians knocked off previously undefeated Harpursville, 55-44, in the other semifinal.
A state title would be the 12th for Section VI since the event’s inception in 1981 and the first since Clymer won the Class D crown in 2009-10.
The Thunderbirds can only hope their momentum carries over. Their 2-3 zone defense held Haldane to 13-of-54 shooting and forced 25 turnovers.
Haldane showed flashes of what got them there, but this one was never close. Chautauqua Lake was ahead, 15-7, after the first quarter before junior Courtney Hewes connected for three three-pointers in the second quarter to help her team build a 21-point halftime lead. Hewes was 4 of 5 from three-point range for the game to finish with a team-high 19 points.
“In the rest stop on the way here I said, ‘Hey, you gotta go out and be aggressive tomorrow, do you hear me?’ ” said coach Eric Schuster, “and she’s real quiet and she gave me a head nod. She was just unbelievable today and we needed it. Our bigs got into foul trouble and we were able to keep them on the bench.”
Hewes got hot at the right time as CL was forced to sit two starters in foul trouble.
“I usually don’t shoot that much, but I was feeling it today,” said Hewes. “When our forwards went out, I knew I had to step it up a little bit.”
Hewes’ long-range shooting helped the Thunderbirds outscore Haldane, 22-9, in the second quarter. Haldane was unable to mount any runs in the second half.
“After we got that big lead, it was just a matter of boxing out, contesting their shots and rebounding, and we did that,” said Schuster.
Jenna Einink finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Ashton Albanesius added 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Ashley Moulton grabbed 11 rebounds and Tara Hunt handed out five assists. The winners also made 12 of 18 free-throw attempts.
Haldane’s Sam Lisikatos led all scorers with 22 points. She had five three-pointers, but by the time those shots started to fall, the game was out of reach.
“They were very big compared to us and they were very strong, they overpowered us” said Lisikatos. “Before we came out here we said ‘give it all you got, leave it out on the floor no matter what,’ and I think we did that.”
While Lisikatos got her points, Haldane’s other big scorer, Allie Monteleone was 1 of 20 from the floor.
“We knew they like to put it on the floor, but even when they put it on the floor we were able to force that deep three,” said Schuster. “No. 1 (Lisikatos) got hot from the three, but to be honest with you, she wasn’t the one we were really worried about. It was No. 10 (Monteleone), but she didn’t have one of her best games.”