State championship: Hammond girls break away to Class D state title game
Mar. 18—TROY — Hammond Central sophomore guard Ava Howie came out on the floor for the second half of Saturday's New York State Class D semi-final game at Hudson Valley Community College determined to assert herself more in the offense against Panama.
She did that quickly by converting a putback on the first possession of the second half and the Devils quickly opened a 45-26 lead. Howie converted a 3-point play for 53-34 lead and buried two 3-pointers and converted three times on the break and Hammond went on to march to a 78-56 victory.
A victory which earned spot in Sunday's state title game opposite the Oxford Academy of Section 4 which advanced Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons of Section 2 75-54.
"Coach told us a halftime that we all had to step and do what we can do. We hate to play a slow paced game, we want to get out and run," said Howie.
Howie scored 18 points in the third quarter and went on to a game-high 28 points with 10 rebounds and 4 assists. She teamed with junior center Landree Kenyon who smoothly converted on the break, inside and netted two 3-pointers scoring 27 points with 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Together they powered the Devils to a 52-34 advantage in the third and fourth quarters.
Both Howie and Kenyon turned in 12-21 shooting leading a 35-59 team effort.
"They knew our stack play and defended it well but that allowed Ava (Howie) to get shots from the top of the key where she is very good," said Hammond Coach Alyssa Crosby.
"The girls had their game faces on today, they were all business. Defensively we packed it in more today."
Mandy Brink injected life into the Panama cause throughout the game with 26 points with several athletic conversions at the goal and four dribble penetration assists. Kylie Morgan tallied 11 points on 4-6 shooting and 6 rebounds and Kaitlyn Horton added 8 points and 6 rebounds.
Howie scored four points in the first half where Hailey Manning sparked the Devils to a 9-2 and 13-4 leads and scoring four of her six points with two assists in the first quarter.
Reserves Laurell Vinch and Issy Woodcock came through with key points and key minutes helping the Section 10 champions play their way through foul trouble to a 38-26 halftime lead.
Sadey Sprabary tallied nine points on 4-4 shooting in the half and finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Manning finished with six points on 3-6 shooting with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks, committed only 1 turnover in 30 minutes and received the team's New York State Sportsmanship Award. Zoey Cunningham contributed 2 assists and committed only 1 turnover in 25 minutes.
"Hailey Manning sparked us early. She always brings a lot of energy," said Howie.
The Panthers' Brink buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer of the first quarter to pull her team within four points at 13-9 and Panama, which committed only 7 turnovers in the game, played some inspired basketball netting 17 points in the second and third quarters. The Devils answered with 25 and 27 point increments with poised team play which included six quick third quarter points where Woodcock scored inside and Vinch buried two jumpers from the wing.
"We got into foul trouble against Poland so we incorporated the reserves more in practices. Laurell and Issy did a very nice job. They really know their roles," said Coach Crosby.
In their three previous trips to the Final 4 Panama lost to Heuvelton on its way to three straight state championships. Hammond looks to continue the trend for Section 10 against Oxford Academy (22-4) which received 27 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in Saturday's semi-final win where Joice Finch netted 11 points on 4-6 shooting.
Hammond will be looking for the third state title in program history. The first two came in 2007 and 2008.
CLASS D STATE SEMIS
Hammond 78 — Panama 56
Panama: Brink 9-5 26, Schauman 1-0 2, Morgan 4-3 11, Horton 2-4 8, Odell 2-0 4, Range 1-0 2, Greene 1-1 3. Totals: 20-13 56.
Hammond: Cunningham 0-0-0, Sprabary 5-0 11, Manning 3-0 6, Kenyon 12-1 27, Howie 12-1 27, Woodcock 1-0 2, Vinch 2-0 4. Jones, Tulley, Downs all 0-0-0. Totals: 35-3 78.
3-point goals: Panama (3): Brink (3). Hammond (5): Howie 2, Kenyon 2, Sprabary 1.
Records: Panama 20-5, Hammond 20-1.