Nazareth season ends in Class AA semis
ALBANY – Nazareth’s tumultuous season came to an end Saturday afternoon at the Times Union Center, one game short of the ultimate goal, and ultimate tribute to coach Apache Paschall who died in January.
The Lady Kingsmen lost to Cicero-North Syracuse, 80-55, in the New York State Federation Class AA semifinals, a defeat that stung more than most.
“I feel like we let him down,” Nazareth junior guard Sadie Edwards said. “I know winning this would have been one of his goals and we didn’t.”
It wasn’t for a lack of trying, though. Edwards finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and four steals and Syracuse-bound McDonald’s All-American Brianna Butler added 13 points, four assists and three steals in her final high school game.
“How can you not be proud of them?” Nazareth co-coach Lauren Best said. “Some adults would have fallen apart already.”
On Saturday, Nazareth (18-4) had no answer for Breanna Stewart, not that many teams do. The nation’s top ranked senior put on another upstate show, her 42 points on 15-of-20 shooting from the field one shy of a tournament record set by Colonie’s Michelle Blot in 2001 in Class A.
The UConn-bound dynamo also had 23 rebounds – one less than the entire Nazareth team – and had six blocks to lead Cicero-North Syracuse (22-3), ranked No. 5 in the country by USA Today, to the Federation final Sunday against Murry Bergtraum.
Brittany Paul added 20 points, five assists and five rebounds for the Northstars, which will attempt to be the first non-New York City team to win the Class AA title since Colonie in 2001.
“This is where we wanted to be,” Stewart said. “This is the furthest game we can play. Obviously we want to win.”
Nazareth, which won the Class AA title last year with Paschall on the bench, wanted that, too.
“There’s a lot of emotions that factor in a game like that,” Cicero-North Syracuse coach Eric Smith said. “I feel bad that we win the game and they don’t. Obviously I want to win, but they’ve been through an emotional rollercoaster.”
And now the returning players have to endure an uncertain future. In February it was announced the school was going to close its doors for good. There’s been a glimmer of hope in recent days, but nothing concrete.
“We’ve been through so much this year,” Edwards said. “Nothing really fazes us, I guess. Things can get wore, but how much worse?”
Contact Dylan Butler at email@example.com
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