TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — One of the great stories in Sec. II basketball this season has come to a somber conclusion, as the Albany Academy for Girls’ quest for a state title fell short with a loss to Putnam Valley in the semifinal round of the NYSPHSAA Girls Basketball Championships Friday afternoon.
The Bears entered the the 2022-’23 season hoping to build off a modest, 16-6 campaign, and begin garnering the program the attention and respect it lacked in Sec. II after years spent at the bottom of the Colonial Council. It’s safe to say they’ve now earned that, and then some.
Academy garnered its’ first-ever league and state title this season, as well as the program’s first-ever regional championship, en route to an inaugural trip to the Class B final four.
But it was there that Bryan Capitula’s squad matched up with the top-ranked team in the state: Sec. I’s Putnam Valley. The Tigers’ sterling backcourt duo of senior Eva Dechent and junior Naieliz Torres proved too much for the Bears; the two guards combined to score 52 points, helping Putnam Valley secure a 70-50 win.
Albany Academy established a perimeter presence on offense early in the first quarter. Senior guard Saige Randolph knocked down a three-pointer from the right wing two minutes into action, giving the Bears a 5-4 edge.
Moments later, sophomore guard Eva Gitto followed suit from the opposite wing, pouring in a triple of her own, and extending the margin to two points at 9-7.
From there, Putnam Valley put the defensive clamps on, holding Academy scoreless the remaining 4:24 of the opening frame. The Tigers capitalized on that drought, closing the quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 17-9 advantage.
Putnam Valley continued to pour it on in the second quarter. Junior Brianna Foody connected on a trey ball at the 6:28 mark, capping a 17-0 extended run that saw the Tigers’ lead balloon to 15.
That margin grew even more by halftime, and Putnam Valley headed into the locker room with a 20-point advantage, leading 34-14.
Albany Academy ramped up the offensive production out of the break, scoring 36 points in the second half, but the Lions matched with 36 points of their own, and were able to coast down the stretch to the 70-50 victory.
Randolph was the only player on Academy to score in double figures; she finished with 13 points. Dechent and Torres both tallied 26 for Putnam Valley.
Capitula hopes that once the sting of losing the final game of the season fades for his players, they’ll take a step back and realize how truly special their accomplishments were this season.
“I think it’s tough while you’re in the moment to really look back and see what the moment was,” said Capitula. “We’ve done a good job of staying in the moment right now. I think we’ll take a day, or two. We told the kids in the locker room, “realize what you guys accomplished; realize the group of fans that were here, and the school support.” Two-and-a-half years ago we never thought this would even be happening. To get to this point and be in this game…what a phenomenal effort from these kids, the buy-in every day to come to practice ready to work. This year put Academy basketball on the map. We’re done with this season, but this program’s not done.”
Albany Academy ends the season with an overall record of 24-2. The Bears suffer three tough losses with the graduation of Randolph, and fellow guards Stylianna Mantzouris and Erin Huban. However, there’s a wealth of young talent to anchor next year’s squad, including Gitto, junior Bella Vincent, and freshman guards Lianna Williams, Morgan Vien and Alex Leonard.