As the final seconds ticked down in the Class B girls basketball state championship game, the teary eyes on the Waterloo bench were evidence of what happened Saturday afternoon. The Finger Lakes East champions were run off the floor at Hudson Valley Community College, beaten in a way they’d never been beaten before.
Waterloo lost, 78-40, to Irvington, as the Section I champions made history, becoming the first school from Westchester County to win four straight state titles. The Indians (22-2) were trying to etch their name in the record books, too. But just like the 2005 squad, Waterloo finished as state runner-up, and not the school’s first state champion.
“They’ll be back here next year. I guarantee it,” Irvington coach Gina Maher said.
Her squad has five seniors, including senior point guard Brittini Lai (18 points) and senior center Lexi Martins (17 points, 19 rebounds), who are headed to Marist College and Lehigh University, respectively. Maher noticed Waterloo will graduate only one senior, Haleigh Wright.
That’s what Indians coach Michael Bree wants his team to remember, too. Think about how good Irvington was and let that drive you through the offseason. “Hopefully we’ll learn from it,” he said. “Hopefully we can make a run next year.”
Waterloo was held to its lowest point total, one shy of the 41 in its only other loss (to Newark) and in last week’s four-point win over Olean. It shot 27% overall (15-for-56) and was 3-for-17 from 3-point range. It turned the ball over 21 times.
“We made mistakes we haven’t made all year. We knew they were good. We knew our hands were full. I didn’t realize how quick they were,” said Bree, whose team fell behind 9-0 and was down 24-4 late in the first quarter.
“Their speed hurt us. They seemed like they hit everything. That’s the first team that’s pulled us out of our 1-3-1 (zone defense) all year, just hitting shots and getting the ball where they wanted.”
On the other end, Maher was concerned about how well junior guard Lauren Deming (11 points, 12 rebounds) and junior forward Lindsay Johnson (15 points) work together, finding each other on cuts for shots. Irvington also was aware of sophomore shooting guard Chelsea Steinruck (12 points). She saw Steinruck score a career-high 24 points in Friday’s semifinal win.
“We play a lot of man but we decided to stick with our zone because of (Steinruck),” said Maher, whose team’s full-court pressure bothered Waterloo. “They scared me in the third quarter.”
Waterloo scored the first six points of the third quarter, as Steinruck’s runner made it 41-29. Maher called timeout. Irvington’s response: A 23-4 surge over the next 5½ minutes. Game over.
“When you win it four times in a row,” Bree said, “you know what it takes to do it.”