ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Few Sec. II basketball playoff brackets offer the depth of talent found in the Class AA girls tournament. Seeds one through five are all state-ranked, and three of those teams were in action in the quarterfinals round at Albany High School Thursday night.
The Albany Falcons, owners of the top seed in their section, hosted the two quarterfinals tilts in the top half of the AA bracket. Albany defended its’ home court well, powering past eighth-seeded Guilderland 66-37 behind a double-double from senior forward Shonyae Edmonds.
But before the Falcons took the court, a battle of state-ranked squads played out between No. 22 Colonie, the fourth seed in the tournament, and No. 26 Saratoga Springs, the five-seed. The Raiders won the regular season matchup 66-53 back on Jan. 31, and had the Blue Streaks’ number again Thursday night, punching their ticket to the semifinals with a 68-52 win, thanks in large part to 20+-point efforts from senior shooting guard Bella Franchi and senior small forward Jayla Tyler.
Colonie controlled the pace of the game from the opening tip, jumping on Saratoga with an offensive flourish that had the Raiders up 18-6 after the first quarter.
The onslaught continued into the second frame. Not even three minutes into the quarter, junior shooting guard Gabrielle Martin poured in a three-pointer from the left wing, and in the blink of an eye, Colonie maintained a 21-point edge at 30-9.
The Raiders took a 39-19 lead into the locker room at halftime; Saratoga actually outscored Colonie in the second half 33-29, but the initial deficit was too much to overcome. The Raiders were able to coast to the 68-52 victory.
Franchi logged a game-high 24 points, connecting on a team-high three long balls. Tyler scored 20 points in what was her ninth outing this season netting 20, or more. Junior forward Carly Wise played some inspired basketball for Saratoga, leading the team in scoring with 21 points.
So, the Raiders would await the winner of game two between Albany and Guilderland, and while the Falcons didn’t have the hot start Colonie did, they finished stronng, and had an overall dominating performance.
Just five combined points were scored in the opening three-and-a-half minutes of action, with Albany taking a 3-2 advantage on a right corner three-pointer from Edmonds.
As the first quarter progressed, the Falcons settled in on offense. Junior guard Iyana Weeden dropped in a three-pointer at the 1:25 mark, extending their lead to double-digits at 14-4.
That margin grew to 16 by the end of the first half, as Albany outscored Guilderland 14-8 in the second quarter to claim a 30-14 lead at halftime.
The Falcons ramped up their offensive production even more in the second half. They used a 15-point third quarter and 21-point fourth frame to secure the 66-37 win, and land a spot in the semifinals.
Edmonds finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Joining her in double figures for Albany was eighth grade guard Janae Byrams, who had 10 points. Junior guard Haley Waldron and senior guard Destiny Pipino led the offensive attack for the Dutchwomen; they each notched 11 points.
Albany and Colonie will now meet in the semifinals Monday at Hudson Valley Community College. Opening tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m. Saratoga Springs ends its’ year 14-7. Guilderland concludes the season at 10-12.