Tamarac vs. Cambridge girls basketball

Cambridge's Lilly Phillips takes a free throw during Sunday's Wasaren League girls basketball championship game against Tamarac at Skidmore College. Tamarac was a 61-51 winner.

Greg Brownell, brownell@poststar.com

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Perfection was denied Sunday night by a Tamarac girls basketball team that roared back from a 17-point deficit to hand Cambridge its first loss of the season.

The Bengals used two huge runs — one in the second quarter, the other in the fourth — to turn the tables and take control of the inaugural Wasaren League championship game at Skidmore College.

The 61-51 loss ended Cambridge’s regular season at 19-1, while Tamarac improved to 18-2 overall behind Emily Erickson’s 29-point assault.

“You hate to lose, but it’s better to lose now than the next game, or we’re one-and-done,” said Indians coach Tony Bochette, whose team heads into sectional play as the potential top seed in Class C. “It’s a long grind to go 20 games without losing. It’s very tough to do.”

“It’s disappointing, but we all have hopes for the future, that we can keep going in sectionals,” senior center Helen Mooney said. “Obviously we wanted to win, but we can come back from this.”

Cambridge had jumped out with a 14-3 run to start the game, including three 3-pointers by freshman Sophie Phillips, in the first two minutes. Forcing turnovers and poor shots, the Indians closed the first quarter with a 10-0 run, eight points by freshman Lilly Phillips, Sophie’s twin sister.

Lilly Phillips led Cambridge with 20 points and Sophie added 16.

“I’ve been in a lot of these games where you have to weather the storm,” Tamarac coach Curt Bailey said. “I just told my kids to keep their composure and let them know there’s still 27 minutes to go.”

Tamarac — last year’s Class B sectional runner-up to Glens Falls — turned the tables in the second quarter, forcing turnovers to spark its transition game. The Bengals outscored Cambridge 15-3 in the period, including a 13-0 run while the Indians struggled to even take shots.

“We changed things up on defense, a lot of what we weren’t doing early — trying to hedge the screen and close the gaps a bit, and make them take outside shots,” Bailey said.

Tamarac’s run continued into the third quarter, as Kayla Doody gave the Bengals their first lead with a 3-pointer fewer than two minutes in. The lead changed hands five times before the Indians ended the third with a 42-39 lead.

However, Erickson struck for a 3-pointer 1:15 into the fourth quarter to put Tamarac ahead for good, part of a 15-0 blitz to a 52-42 lead, which the Bengals maintained to the end. Cambridge committed nearly 30 turnovers in the game.

“That was the difference — they executed very well and we didn’t make our shots,” Bochette said. “We got a lot of easy shots in the first quarter, but they clamped down on defense after that.”

“I think they’ll realize what a special season they’ve had, and they can reload and focus on winning the C’s. They’re very talented team,” said Bailey, whose team should be a high seed in Class B.

Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity and check out his blogs on poststar.com.

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Sports writer

Covering high school and minor-league sports in Section II since 1989. SUNY Plattsburgh grad. Colleen's lesser half. Three amazing young people call me Dad. Fan of Philadelphia Eagles, New York Rangers and Mets, and Syracuse Orange.

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