LATHAM, N.Y. -- Shaker basketball swept a doubleheader matchup against Shenendehowa Saturday to repeat January's victory performances.
Last month's competition was held at Sienna College's Alumni Recreation Center, where ticket sales raked in $22,000 for the memorial scholarship funds of Christopher Stewart and Deanna Rivers. For this faceoff, the Shaker girls and boys teams hosted their opponents at home, raising an estimated $7,000 in ticket and T-shirt sales to help Bailey Wind and Matt Hardy's families pay for the medical bills incurred after December's deadly Northway crash.
Playing at home proved to be a beneficial move for the Blue Bison, who made sure to earn statement-making wins when the girls took the court in a 60-39 victory, followed by the boys who finished 67-45 over the Plainsmen.
Led by senior standout Madison Rowland, the Shaker girls set the tone for the night's competitions. Rowland dominated the first half, with 27 points in the two periods and a season-high 33 points overall. Add that scoring power to seven rebounds, eight steals and two blocks to grasp the impact of Rowland's court presence in its entirety. Last month at Siena, Rowland faced foul trouble early and spent the majority of the evening watching from the bench in a 51-43 triumph. In what came to be a much closer battle, she scored a season-low four points.
Tipping off after the girls' commanding performance, Chris Stewart's cousin, senior point guard Zach Yakel drained four 3-pointers in the second half, finishing with 13 points overall.
"I played for Chris the whole time," Yakel said. "It shouldn't take a tragedy like this to pull us together, but it definitely has. Already being such big rivals with Shen, we've gained a lot respect for them, but it just makes us want it that much more."
Building off his momentum from the previous faceoff, when he drained a crucial shot from beyond the arc in the final minute, Yakel hit a trio of 3's in the fourth quarter against the Plainsmen.
Despite the solid field goal accuracy, it was on the defensive end of the court that the Blue Bison sealed their win. Contributing to that effort, Shaker senior forward David Morrison added nine points to the board, but made a real impact on the defensive end where he grabbed 10 rebounds, four steals and blocked three shots.
The pressure defense forced Shen to turn the ball over 13 times in the first half alone and get into foul trouble early on. Shaker boasted a 30-19 advantage going into halftime, also in part because the squad held Shen to 20 field goal attempts. For a team known for its field goal scoring abilities, the low number of looks proved difficult for Shen to overcome heading into the second.
Along with the victories, both the girls and boys Shaker squads clinched the Suburban Council North Division title. Both Shen teams rank second.