Girls basketball: Albany takes down Bethlehem for title

Poor shooting night dooms Lady Eagles in Class AA final

— Experience trumped youth in Monday's Section II Class AA girls basketball final at the Times Union Center.

Three Albany players reached double digits in scoring to lead the Lady Falcons to a 64-47 victory over Bethlehem.

Senior guard Emia Willingham-Hurst had 15 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and five steals to help Albany (20-1) win the Sectional title one year after losing to Colonie in the Class AA final.

"That was a big one," said Willingham-Hurst. "It was great to get over (the hump)."

Playing in its first Sectional final since 2009, Bethlehem (20-1) had a difficult time getting into an offensive rhythm. The Lady Eagles made only 27 percent of their shots from the field and turned the ball over 21 times.

"That was us playing a very good team, and we didn't execute as well as we had during most of the season," said Bethlehem coach Matt Bixby.

The key moments came in the second quarter. Albany scored the first six points of the period to build a 26-13 lead. Bethlehem countered with a 7-0 run fueled by Erin O'Donnell's three-point play and a pair of free throws, but a basket by Mylah Chandler and a three-pointer from Cara Waterson put the Lady Falcons up 31-20 at halftime.

The theme continued in the third quarter. Every time Bethlehem bid to get back in the game, Albany would made a bigger run to keep the score one-sided.

"That's a credit to them," said Bixby. "That's what a championship team does."

Ayanna Hunter contributed 13 points and seven assists, and Waterson added 11 points for Albany, which advances to Saturday's regional against Section III champion Cicero-North Syracuse at Onondaga Community College.

Freshman Jenna Giacone netted 14 points, and sophomore Gabby Giacone contributed 13 points for Bethlehem.

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