TROY – They went fast. They went slow.
And in the end, the erratic pace the Warriors of Westhill High School set was too much for the Marlboro High School girls basketball team to overcome.
The Iron Dukes of Section 9 lost to Section 3’s Westhill 58-41 on Friday at Hudson Valley Community College in a New York State Class B semifinal.
Marlboro fell short of winning its first state championship since 1984 and first in Class B. The Iron Dukes competed in Class C when they last won a state title 32 years ago.
Westhill’s combination of speed and slowing the game down frazzled the Iron Dukes.
“They were fast and got back. We weren’t getting back on defense and our defense wasn’t working as well it usually does,” said Julia Rusk, who led Marlboro with 15 points. “They were slowing us up on defense, on our offense, and kind of slowing the game down, too. They did both.”
Westhill utilized its speed to start the game. The Warriors took a 10-2 lead midway through the first quarter. By halftime, the Warriors mounted a 34-19 edge, as Marlboro had a tough time containing the duo of Delaney Martin and Mackenzie Martin.
Delaney Martin scored 24 points while Mackenzie Martin poured in 12 points and led the team in rebounds with 11. Mary Washburn added nine points and nine assists.
“(The Warriors) are a great team and I knew coming in they were going to be tough,” said Marlboro coach Marion Casey, whose Iron Dukes finished the season 22-3. “We didn’t mesh and click as much as we do in a lot of the games that we’ve had — especially the big ones so far. So I think that was a lot of it, too.”
The Iron Dukes also struggled to make shots. Marlboro made nine two-point field goals in 38 tries, although it had some success from three. The Iron Dukes made four 3-pointers in 11 tries, three of which were drained by sophomore guard Talaya Lewis. Lewis backed up Rusk with 13 points and four rebounds.
Senior forward Missy Sadler added nine points and led the team in rebounds with 13.
“Every team we faced had a lot of speed,” Sadler said. “They did a really good job on the fast break. They did pretty good going fast and slow. Coming up with the ball fast, coming down with the ball slow. They did a couple different things and maybe I guess that threw us off a little bit, but we intended to keep our composure as best we could.”
Despite the loss, the experience of an appearance in the state final four taught the Iron Dukes about playing as a team.
And, not giving up.
“We built such great friendships and they kind of proved that, whatever situation you’re in, if you play your heart out you can win,” Sadler said.
Added Rusk: “It was an amazing experience. I think I learned to (play as) a team.”
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports