Scholars Academy falls short in final

Scholars players watch as their team faces an overwhelming deficit. Photo by Ken Maldonado
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The Scholars Academy girls’ basketball team’s season ended with the same heart it displayed throughout the year.

There were multiple times in the Seawolves’ eventual 66-54 loss to Cardinal O’Hara (Buffalo) that it appeared the state Federation Class semifinal was out of reach Saturday at the Times Union Center.

Each time Scholars rallied and battled.

The Seawolves players were displaced from their homes and their school by Hurricane Sandy, played three league games a week after five were postponed because of the hurricane and underwent a coaching change right before the playoffs.

Scholars Athletic Director Joe Lunati would not comment on why head Coach Janet Kleiner is no longer with the team.

Scholar wasn’t going down easy one last time.

“They said, ‘We’re not dying and we are going to fight until the final buzzer,’” said assistant Coach Jeff Attard, who replaced Kleiner along with head Coach John Coscia. “I think it says a lot about them as players and as people.”

The final push came after a three-pointer from Aisha Shabazz that put the Hawks up 53-41 with 5:43 left in the game. Scholars (28-1) then went on a 10-2 run that Jessica Glaz capped with a bucket that cut the O’Hara (28-1) lead to just 55-51 with 3:11 to go. Glaz, who scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, fouled out shortly after and Scholars watched the Buffalo school close the game out.

“We always go down fighting,” said senior guard Taylor Gallagher, who had 17 points and 10 boards. “We left everything on the court. We never gave up.”

The Seawolves had no answer for O’Hara forwards Kelsey McCarthy and Sara DiPasquale, who are both 6 feet tall. They combined for 23 points and 16 rebounds. Leah McDonald added 18 points and Shabazz had nine points and 13 boards.

Scholars shot an uncharacteristic 1-for-11 from three-point range, losing their biggest offensive weapon. Emma Michaels added 11 points and eight rebounds, but the Seawolves were out rebounded 45-34.

“It’s just tough because they’re big,” Attard said.

There was a bit of disappointment for the Scholars players. They had hoped to win the school’s first Federation tournament game in their third straight trip. Instead they had to settle for being more competitive following two straight lopsided defeats with the hope of getting back here again next year.

“It’s a little unsatisfying,” Gallagher said. “As long has we went out there and played our best we are happy with it.”

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