ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After being eliminated in the third round of last year’s Section II, Class B playoff tournament, Albany Academy for Girls head coach Bryan Capitula couldn’t have asked for much more out of his team’s rebound season.
The Bears entered the day ranked third in the state, and were one of just three remaining unbeaten teams in the section at 16-0.
In order to earn win No. 17, they’d have to get through a formidable foe Tuesday night. 21st-ranked Schalmont, the reigning state champion in Class B, was in town for a rematch after Academy beat the Sabres 66-35 in Schenectady on Dec. 13.
But it was much of the same Tuesday; the Bears dominated from start to finish, and had three players score in double figures. Senior Saige Randolph led the way with 19 points.
Albany Academy maintained a 36-20 advantage at the halftime break, but credit to Schalmont junior forward Karissa Antoine for leading the Sabres in a valiant comeback effort. With 3:36 to play in the third quarter, she knocked down a runner in the lane, cutting the deficit to 10 points at 45-35. Antoine poured in a game-high 22 points.
Moments later, junior guard Mikaela Frank dropped in a deep three-pointer, and just like that, the Bears’ lead was down to single-digits.
But that’s as close as Schalmont would get. Albany Academy stretched the lead back out to 12 points by the end of the third quarter, thanks to a crafty bucket from just outside the paint from freshman Alex Leonard, and a transition lay-up from Randolph.
And Randolph helped blow the game wide open in the final frame. She cashed in on a wing triple at the 6:16 mark, and on the Bears’ ensuing possession, scored a fast-break lay-up, ballooning Albany Academy’s advantage out to 20 points.
That would prove to be the final margin, as the Bears cruised to a 70-50 victory. Joining Randolph in double figures was senior Stylianna Mantzouris (16) and Leonard (11).
Albany Academy (17-0) hits the road Friday for a 6:30 p.m. matchup with Cohoes. Schalmont (9-7) has to quickly rebound for another road tilt Wednesday night. The Sabres tip off against Scotia at 6:00.