PLATTSBURGH - For six straight years, Northeastern Clinton Central School has had a stranglehold on the Section VII Class B girls basketball title. The Chiefs of Saranac put an end to their reign last Friday.
Megan Bowman's 21 points powered Saranac to a 63-53 win over the Cougars in the Section VII Class B final, held at the SUNY Plattsburgh Fieldhouse March 5.
It seemed NCCS would cruise to yet another championship as they built an early lead.
"We were full of energy the first quarter," said Cougars head coach Dave Lambert. "We passed the ball quickly and got some fast breaks."
But the Chiefs closed the gap, led by Bowman, who scored 10 of her 21 in the second quarter. Stephanie Linder scored 10 of her 16 in the first half as well, as Saranac took a 28-26 lead into halftime.
"She's such a good athlete that it's hard to contain her," Lambert said of Bowman. "She drove the middle and dished it off well. We just couldn't contain her. We tried, but everything we tried failed."
Saranac would extend their lead throughout the second half as the Cougars suddenly went cold. Jade Pellerin scored nine second-half points for the Chiefs to finish with 12.
"Our shooting in the second half was not very good and we couldn't make a free throw," said Lambert.
Collectively, NCCS finished just 16-for-29 from the line, including 9-for-19 in the second half. Meanwhile, the Chiefs hit 16-of-20, including 9-of-10 in the fourth quarter.
Katrina Garrand led the Cougars with 17 while Rachelle Barcomb added 13. Mary-Elizabeth Franke chipped in eight to go with nine rebounds.
"Just like all year long, Chelsea Brooks played her heart out," said Lambert. "Katrina had her usual good game, and Mary-Elizabeth got some big boards for us."
Lambert said the loss was dissapointing, but congratulated Saranac head coach Mark Keyser on his 300th career win.