Schools of Thought: Cougars showing their potential

It was a tough weekend for area basketball teams as many teams saw their seasons end in the quarterfinals despite putting up some strong performances.

The only boys team that managed to sneak through to the Glens Falls Civic Center – after no team from Fulton or Montgomery counties advanced last year – is the Canajoharie Cougars, who punched their ticket to the Section II Class B semifinals with a 56-44 win over No. 12 Stillwater on Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College.

Class C appears to be the tightest of the five boys basketball classifications, judging by the fact Stillwater was able to upset No. 5 Schoharie in the first round and No. 8 Rensselaer came within five points of knocking off top-seeded Hoosic Valley.

Now, the Cougars will get their shot at the top-seeded Indians on Wednesday night.

A win Saturday night and the Cougars will find themselves playing for the Section II championship against the winner of the other semifinal between No. 3 Greenwich and No. 2 Lake George.

The Cougars certainly have the tools to do it. The Cougars have three outside threats in Dillan Veeder, Kevin Shannon and Zachary Bowerman. On the inside after Kevin Shannon led the way early in the paint, 6-foot-5 forward Josh Gonzalez has been a force in the paint throughout the second half of the season to become the Cougars’ leading scorer.

It would be a nice feather in the cap it would be for first-year coach Phil Schoff if he leads the Cougars to a sectional title. That would increase expectations next year with several key players returning.

But regardless of how the Cougars finish the season, I still think it will go down as a success in everyone’s eyes. Only four teams in each classification get to play at the Glens Falls Civic center and only half of those get to play for a championship. Even fewer get to return there two weeks later to play for a state title.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. There is still at least one game left in the Cougars’ season, and maybe more.

Other teams that didn’t advance beyond the quarterfinals also have things to be proud of. The Johnstown Lady Bills hung with No. 2 Tamarac for most of Saturday’s quarterfinal, even as the Lady Bengals’ leading scorer Jenna Erickson lit up the scoreboard early.

Even though the final score was 71-49, the game was much closer than that until the final 12 minutes. The Lady Bills even led by four. Despite losing several key players to graduation after this season, the Lady Bills have plenty of reasons for optimism with several key players returning.

The Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots also ran into massive amounts of firepower in a 62-39 loss to top-seeded Watervliet. Those are two teams that could light up the scoreboard if they meet in the finals.

The Broadalbin-Perth boys team also ran into Watervliet. While they couldn’t keep pace with the Cannoneers for most of the quarterfinal game, they got a taste of where they will need to be to have success in the future.

With most of that team coming back next year, perhaps there will be more than one area team at the Glens Falls Civic Center next year.

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