Limited to 20 points over the final 261/2 minutes of play Saturday night, Maine-Endwell’s girls were overrun by Troy, 46-30, in the Class A state girls basketball title game.
The Spartans’ 10-0 early lead seemed a faded memory by halftime, at which juncture Troy — playing a virtual home game at Hudson Valley Community College — led by 23-12 and M-E shooters were a collectively frigid 4-for-19.
As a measure of how peculiar a first half it was, the Flying Horses’ nine-point advantage came despite turning over the basketball 17 times.
Maine-Endwell (17-5) was last within a single-digit deficit when all-tournament selection Julie Yacovoni converted on the interior 2:24 into the third quarter to make it 27-19. But Troy guard and tourney MVP Kiana Patterson followed with consecutive 3-pointers to stretch it to 33-19 midway through the third.
Sophomore Patterson had 10 points and all-tourney pick Mary Pattison, a junior, scored 11 for the Flying Horses (20-5).
Yacovoni scored eight, and sisters Daniella and Victoria Dean seven apiece for Maine-Endwell, which converted nine of 38 field goal tries — two of 18 from beyond the arc. Victoria was likewise granted all-tourney recognition.
“I thought defensively we played our butts off, competed for every loose ball,” Spartans coach Sonny Spera said. “We were giving up a ton of size but I thought we did a good job defensively. Offensively, we just lost our rhythm, lost our sync. I don’t think we attacked the basket.
“We didn’t get into those seams — and probably because Troy made a lot of adjustments. Give them credit.”
Those adjustments became mighty necessary once M-E threw an early jolt into the Flying Horses in the form of that 10-0 advantage 5:16 into play.
Victoria drilled a 3-pointer to give her five points and M-E a 5-0 lead, Daniella then hit a free throw, finished on the back of the press-break and added a put-back off the latest in a string of Troy turnovers.
The hometown team called timeout with 2:43 left in the quarter, only to emerge a far different, more poised and superior squad.
“We were really nervous in the beginning but coach told us to settle down,” Patterson said. “As soon as we made the first basket we were fine. We knew our points would come.”
Oh, the points came — as in, 12 over the closing 21/2 minutes of the quarter.
Four players had a hand in that flurry, most conspicuously Pattison. She put Troy on the board with two free throws, and tacked on the last two goals on strong penetrations to the rim.
Maine-Endwell was within 14-12 when Martine Bosch was the beneficiary of Victoria’s pass interception, dash into the frontcourt and on-target feed 2:14 into the second quarter. Problem was, the Spartans were startlingly blanked through conclusion of the half.
A 3-pointer from Courtney Avery — hardly accentuated on M-E’s scouting charts — made it a 23-12 difference at the half.
“I think offensively, we didn’t execute,” Spera said. “We got a little rattled, they got pretty physical and I thought our kids rose to the challenge but offensively we got a little discombobulated. We took some shots early in the shot clock that I thought weren’t great shot selections.”
Might the squad with a single senior and in a state final for the first time in program history have been caught up in the moment?
“It kind of looked like it,” Spera said. “If I’m an observer watching the game, I’m saying that we looked young, we looked inexperienced — and I don’t think we are, but that’s what we looked like.”
The youthful look of the roster figures to pay dividends next winter, with the expected return of all but 12th-grader Becca Dewing. The coach will most certainly use Saturday night and all it entailed as an extended teaching moment.
“Going forward, what do you tell them? You tell them to remember everything,” he said. “Remember all the work you did in the offseason, remember what you did when we started the year, where you came from, what we did together.
“And then next year, we have to do it better if we want to get to this point.”