TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s been the season of firsts for the Albany Academy for Girls basketball team. After securing the program’s first outright Colonial Council title, the Bears followed that up with their first Sec. II title. Now, they can add “first-ever regional championship” to that growing list of milestones.
Albany Academy matched up with Saranac, a top-five team in the state for Class B, Saturday afternoon at Hudson Valley Community College in the regional round of the state tournament. The fifth-ranked Chiefs proved to be no match for Bryan Capitula’s squad, though. The Bears led wire-to-wire, advancing to the state semifinals with a commanding, 62-37 win.
Academy’s suffocating brand of defense, which has been its’ calling card all season, was on full display in the opening quarter. The Bears held Saranac to just six points, and used a balanced scoring attack to jump out to an 18-6 lead after the first eight minutes of action.
And there was no let-up from the Sec. II, Class B champs in the second frame. They ramped up their offensive production even further, scoring 26 points in the quarter, while still holding the Chiefs to just six points.
At the halftime break, Albany Academy held a whopping, 44-12 lead. Senior guard Stylianna Mantzouris led the first-half scoring effort with 10 points, and she was one of seven Bears to find their way into the box score before the break.
Academy continued to grow its’ lead after returning from the locker room, outscoring Saranac 13-9 to take a 36-point lead into the final stanza. It was there that the Bears coasted a bit – the Chiefs outscored them 16-5 in the quarter – but the result was never in doubt.
Coach Capitula felt his team had something to prove in its’ inaugural regional championship game, and it’s safe to say, “mission accomplished.”
“We’ve been hungry all week,” said Capitula. “We came out to kind of make sure everyone knows we’re here; I think we did that in the first half. (It was) just unbelievable. We had a great week of practice; great energy yesterday at practice. We tell the kids every day, “anything we do in practice transfers over.” Practice hard, and play hard. It just transfers to the game. That’s what happened today.”
In what was arguably Academy’s most complete game of the season, Mantzouris detailed what led such a dominant showing.
“We started off strong; we stayed together; we communicated, listened to our coaches,” said Mantzouris. “We just trust each other; that’s the biggest thing. And we get the job done every time. Honestly, teams just have to be ready (for us), and we’re gonna be ready also.
Mantzouris finished with 10 points. Senior guard Saige Randolph tallied a team-high 14 points, and sophomore guard Eva Gitto rounded out the trio of Bears in double figures; she contributed 11 points.
Albany Academy now sets its’ sights on a state semi-final matchup with Sec. I’s Putnam Valley, the No. 2 ranked team in the state for Class B. The Tigers have compiled a 25-1 overall record. That game will be played Friday morning at HVCC. Opening tip-off from the McDonough Sports Complex is set for 11:45.