JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s been a season to remember for both the Duanesburg and Fonda-Fultonville boys and girls basketball programs.
The four teams combined to post a remarkable 40-3 record in Western Athletic Conference play, and their success culminated in the two schools squaring off for the WAC Cup Tuesday night at Fulton Montgomery Community College.
The respective regular season matchups made for epic battles. The Duanesburg boys eked out a 39-38 win at home against Fonda on Dec. 9, and the Duanesburg girls recorded a 47-36 win in Fonda – the Eagles’ smallest margin of victory in a league tilt this year.
But the Braves and Lady Braves’ bids for redemption both came up short Tuesday night. The Duanesburg girls started the evening with a convincing, 71-19 win for its’ second straight WAC title. And the Duanesburg boys recorded a come-from-behind, 45-39 victory, putting their finishing touch on an undefeated, 21-0 regular season.
The Duanesburg girls were simply on a mission. They opened up the game on a 21-0 run, and held Fonda scoreless until the 5:12 mark of the second quarter.
Eagles junior guard Allison O’Hanlon dropped a game-high 32 points in the winning effort – her third-highest scoring output of the season. Joining her in double figures was junior Hannah Mulhern, who matched a season-high with 20 points, and junior Alex Moses chipped in 13.
With the win, Duanesburg improves to 15-5. Its’ not a staggering record, considering the Eagles went 22-3 last year, but all five losses this season have come against either Class A, or AA programs.
Duanesburg head coach Chris Herron believes it’s the adversity his team has faced in those matchups with higher caliber opponents that has the Eagles prepared for a deep postseason run.
“We’ve really felt like our best basketball is still ahead of us,” said Herron. “We struggled a little bit against better teams. That’s why we scheduled these better teams – so (that) this time of year is where we’re starting to hit our stride. And you could see it today; we started to hit our stride against a very good Fonda team.”
The Eagles have their sights set on another run to the state playoffs. But they’re taking things one day, one game at a time.
“Day in, and day out, we’re trying to prepare,” said O’Hanlon. “Obviously, we want to win our last game, but we’re not overlooking sectionals; we’re not overlooking WAC. So, this is just a good stepping stone for us to be able to get to where we want to go.”
Duanesburg moves to 12-0 in WAC play with the win. Fonda-Fultonville falls to 13-7, and 10-3 in league action.
The Duanesburg boys team did not have quite as easy a time securing the WAC Cup. The first quarter saw seven lead changes, and when the dust settled, Fonda maintained a 10-9 advantage.
The Eagles’ offense found a groove in the second frame, though. With just over 29 seconds remaining before halftime, junior guard Ethan Thompson connected on a wing three-pointer, giving Duanesburg its’ largest lead of the game at eight points.
However, Fonda’s Jeremiah Jimenez countered on the Braves’ next trip down the floor with a trey ball of his own, trimming the Eagles’ lead to 25-20 heading into the locker room.
And Fonda carried that momentum into the third quarter, outscoring Duanesburg 14-4 to take a 34-29 edge into the final stanza.
The Braves managed to grow the margin to seven points on a Nate Mycek fast-break lay-up, forcing Duanesburg head coach Brett Simpson to take a timeout with 7:07 remaining in the game.
But that stoppage jumpstarted the Eagles. They went on an 8-1 run over the next 5:14 to tie the game at 39. Then, with under a minute to play, Thompson carved his way into the paint, and dropped in a floater that put Duanesburg up two points. The Eagles salted the game away at the free throw line from there, securing the 45-39 victory.
For a team that’s outscored its’ opponents by an average of nearly 35 points per game this season, Simpson was actually pleased his team was put to the test.
“It’s exactly what we needed,” said Simpson. “I’m proud of these guys; going 20-0 is great. But, we needed this. We needed to be pushed, and it just shows our guys are ready. We knew tonight was going to be a fight. I think we’re ready going into Sectionals.”
Thompson recalled what Simpson said to the team ahead of the fourth quarter that inspired the group to fight back.
“He told us, “finish this job,” ’cause all season he’s been sayin’, “job’s not finished,” said Thompson. “This was the time to finish the job, and we finished the job. Honestly, we just had to dig deep, play with heart; do what we (did) all season, and we came out with the “W”.
The Eagles extend their perfect season to 21-0, and own a 11-0 WAC mark. Fonda-Fultonville suffers just its’ third loss of the season (17-3), and second defeat in league action (9-2).
Sectional brackets for both Fonda-Fultonville in Class B and Duanesburg in Class C will be released Wednesday.