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SLC girls eye breakthrough state basketball tournament win

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BRASHER FALLS - Will one breakthough win lead to another for the St. Lawrence Central girls basketball team?

The Lady Larries get to answer that question this evening at SUNY Potsdam’s Jerry Welsh Gymnasium when they take on Section 7 champion Northern Adirondack Central in the first round of the NYSPHSAA Class C playoffs.

“It’s been a longer season than what we’re used to but the girls are really up for it. We’ve had a great week of practice,” said coach Chad Gathier on the eve of his team’s first-ever appearance in the state tournament after having claimed the first Section 10 championship in school history with a 41-30 decision over Brushton-Moira.

“We’re ready to go. The girls have already made history. They want to go out and make more history,” he added.

Since downing BMC in the sectional final on February 21, the Lady Larries dropped a 46-21 decision to Class A champion Franklin Academy in the Section 10 Overall Tournament, which wrapped up this weekend with the Heuvelton girls claiming top honors for the first time in their school history after rallying to knock off FA 53-45 on Saturday.

The senior duo of forward Lindsey Thayer and guard Jenna Kesner has filled the leadership role for the Lady Larries, who enter tonight’s game with a 13-8 record. Thayer is averaging a double-double with nearly 16 points and 15 rebounds a game while Kesner has averaged just under five points, three rebounds and three assists per outing. Junior Chelsea Savage has also made lead all-around contributions averaging more than nine points and seven rebounds while freshman Bailee Gauthier and Breanna Evans have steadily improved their overall play since the start of the season with Gauthier averaging more than seven points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals and Evans tallying more than four points and three rebounds per game.

“When we started the season, it was kind of a two-person show with our seniors. We’ve made a lot of progress as a team. Our younger players have really stepped up. We’re still getting better as we go,” noted Gauthier.

Senior Abby Taylor has provided quality minutes off the bench roaming the paint for the Lady Larries. Sophomore Morgan Greer has been a key contributor off the bench while classmate Haleigh Agans, who was a starting forward at the beginning of the season but has been sidelined since early January, returned to the lineup for the game against FA and is expected to see more playing time this evening.

“Abby never hurts us when she’s in the game. Morgan has stepped up her game big time since the start of the season and having Haleigh back can only help us,” said Gauthier.

The Lady Larries won’t be the only time looking to continue making history at Jerry Welsh Gym tonight. The Lady Bobcats (14-6) are hoping to extend a breakthrough season that saw them capture their first-ever Section 7 championship with a 37-27 win over Seton Catholic in the Class C final this past weekend.

The trio of Taylor Durnin (11.3 ppg), Jillian Scott (9.6 ppg) and Rachael Venne (8.6 ppg) anchors the NAC cause.

“I went to see them play on Saturday. They don’t have a lot of size but they do have a lot of speed and that’s something we’re going to have to be ready for,” Gauthier said.

“I think this is going to be a good matchup for us. The key for us is to come out and not be too nervous. We just want to play our game,” he added.

The winner of tonight’s game advances to a quarter-final round matchup on Saturday against Section 2 champion Hoosic Valley at the Hudson Valley Community College gym starting at noon.

OTHER STATE TOURNEY OPENERS

Other Section 10 champions making their state tournament debuts this evening include; the Tupper Lake boys, who will be taking on Section 7 Class champion Seton Catholic at Jerry Welsh Gym following the SLC-NAC girls matchup, the OFA boys, who are traveling to Saratoga High School to face Section 2 Class B champion Voorheesville, and the Canton Central girls, who are headed to Troy High School for a matchup against Section 2 Class B champion Tamarac.

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