Forward Lindsay Johnson and guard Lauren Deming have been on the scouting report for every Waterloo opponent. The juniors are the Indians’ top scorers at 17 and 15 points per game, respectively.
Karen Francis certainly knew their names headed into Friday’s Class B girls basketball state semifinals and the Salmon River coach admitted she knew one more, Chelsea Steinruck. “We knew she was a shooter,” Francis said. “We obviously didn’t prepare enough for (her).”
The sophomore guard scored 16 of her career-high 24 points in the first half and drilled 5 of 8 shots from 3-point land to help shoot down the Shamrocks, 65-53, and lead the 23-1 Finger Lakes East champions into Saturday’s 4 p.m. state championship against Irvington (21-2) back at Hudson Valley Community College at 4 p.m. The Section I champions beat Oneonta, 55-53.
Waterloo has never won a state title. It was runner-up in 2005. “Right now we’re kind of calm but I’m sure we’re going to be so nervous later when we start thinking about it,” Johnson said.
Steinruck showed no jitters. Her 3-pointer 82 seconds into the game erased the only deficit, 2-0, Waterloo faced. It led by 10 points early and a couple times by double-digits late, but could never quite shake the Shamrocks (17-7) of Section X (North Country). Making 7 of 18 from beyond the arc helped them stay within reach.
Johnson scored 13 of her 23 points and Deming had 11 of her 15 in the second half, taking over what Steinruck started.
“If she’s hitting we’re really tough,” coach Michael Bree said of Steinruck, who averages about 11 points but hasn’t been too hot from deep in the postseason. “If she’s scoring then we basically have got a three-headed monster.”
Steinruck scored 13 points and hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Indians a 24-16 lead early in the second quarter. “I just tried my hardest and did my best,” she said. “I was really focused when I came out.”
Waterloo led 31-27 at halftime and made 24 of 46 shots overall (52 percent).
Deming did most of her damage on drives. She went 7-for-7 from the line. During one stretch starting late in the third quarter, she scored 10 of Waterloo’s 13 points. The margin was only five points with 4½ minutes remaining, but Johnson (11-for-17 shooting) converted a three-point play and Steinruck’s basket gave the Indians’ their first double-digit lead, 58-48, with 3:24 left.
“You’re always questioning your defense when you have three good players like that,” Francis said. “Do you stay in man? Do you switch to a zone? You have to adjust. We tried to adjust, but it wasn’t enough.”