If Tony Bochette has learned one thing about his Cambridge girls basketball team this season, it’s that they don’t get flustered easily.
It hasn’t mattered if the Indians have trailed by seven, or 10, or 12 points during a game, they have gotten the job done — most recently in the Class C final four of the Section II tournament.
“What we’ve shown in the last two games is being resilient and coming back from behind,” the Cambridge head coach said. “You’re always skeptical when you have young players, but our seniors were leaders — they were a calming influence on our freshmen.”
One of those freshmen, Sophie Phillips, scored a game-high 19 points Saturday, including the go-ahead basket in overtime of Cambridge’s 62-59 Section II championship win over Mekeel Christian.
That victory put the Indians (23-1) into the Class C state regional semifinals against Section VII champ Seton Catholic of Plattsburgh. The game, delayed a day by the snowstorm, is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. at Saratoga Springs High School.
The winner advances to play Madrid-Waddington of Section X in a regional final on Saturday at 1 p.m. at SUNY Canton.
On Saturday, Cambridge roared back from a 10-point halftime deficit before winning in OT, led by its nucleus of five seniors and three freshmen. The seniors are all at least three-year varsity veterans — center Helen Mooney is a fifth-year varsity player — but the freshmen trio of Fiona Mooney and twins Sophie and Lilly Phillips put the Indians over the top this season.
They’re definitely above and beyond what you expect freshmen to be,” Bochette said. “They’re so unflappable, you can’t tell if they’re winning or losing or how big the game is. They developed so much more maturity and they played high-level summer ball.”
Sophie (14.1 points per game) and Lilly Phillips (12.4 ppg) are the Indians’ leading scorers, with 5-11 Helen Mooney (9.4 ppg) excelling in the post. Everyone has a role, so they mesh well together on a team that likes to score points in transition and cut inside for layups.
“We have to stop the twins, but they’re a pretty athletic team as a whole,” Seton Catholic coach Donna Dixon-Vosh said. “We have to break their press and take care of the ball, and try to slow them down.”
Seton Catholic (14-5) won its first Section VII title since 2008 in similar fashion to Cambridge. The Knights rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game in regulation, then prevailed in overtime to beat Northern Adirondack 55-49 on Friday night.
“We’d been in the Section VII final three of the last four years, but we couldn’t get past NAC,” Dixon-Vosh said. “We had more legs at the end — we picked up the pace and pushed the tempo, and we dominated in overtime.”
The Knights are led by 5-10 senior center Gretchen Zalis, a 1,000-point scorer who is averaging 17.3 ppg and will present an interesting matchup with either of the Mooney sisters inside. Junior guard Nicole Bullock is averaging 15.2 ppg, and senior point guard Rachel Racette is also an outside threat. Seton also has a pair of freshmen starters in Hailey Murnane and Leah Walker.
“(Zalis) is more of a traditional post player — she has a good post presence, so she’ll be a challenge, and they have some guards who can handle the ball and distribute,” Bochette said. “It’s a regional semifinal — you can’t expect anything but a good game. Hopefully we can execute our game plan and use our skills.”