Saunders girls eye another city title
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The Yonkers City Tournament is a great event held by the city to crown a “champion of Yonkers” every year. The eight Yonkers high schools all compete in both boys and girls hoops, and while the boys bracket is a toss-up most years, the girls bracket has been consistently dominated by Saunders High School.
As the saying goes, history repeats itself. And it’s looking like that may hold true again in 2013.
Saunders defeated Riverside, 64-50, in the semifinal of the Yonkers City Tournament on Thursday and will face Yonkers High School in the championship game on Saturday. Saunders — which has won seven of the last eight Yonkers City titles — beat Yonkers, 52-39, earlier this season. Needless to say, the Blue Devils will be heavy favorites heading into the final.
“I think we’ve been the best in Yonkers,” Saunders coach John Volpe said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of different players come through here over the years and buy into our system. It’s going to be a great honor to go for our eighth and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Saunders senior forward Amanda Smith poured in a game-high 17 points in the win and controlled the pace of the game. She scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to break it wide open.
“I think the key was to settle the basketball and not play to (Riverside’s) speed,” Smith said. “I’ve been playing in this tournament for three years now and we’ve been four years undefeated city champs. It’s great doing this in my senior year, especially with my little sister (a freshman) being out there with us. We have a big title to hold so it was great to get this win.”
Teammate Kaira Hassell added 11 points and Gabriella Fria had 10 points. Amanda Kiriakos chipped in with nine points.
“(Yonkers) is always a challenging game,” Hassell said. “We know we’re going to win because we have the heart (for it). If we push with that heart and dedication, we’ll win. We want to win all of our (remaining games). We’re Saunders. ”
Riverside had chances to keep the game close but struggled to score at times. Saunders' press gave Riverside trouble late and the Blue Devils pushed the lead over 20 points early in the fourth quarter.
Briana Ugarte had a team-high 15 points and Gessell Molina added 13 points in the loss.
“I feel like right now, we’re beating ourselves — other teams aren’t beating us,” Riverside coach Alicia Martin said. “We can compete with any team in Yonkers, but we just beat ourselves by not putting the ball in the basket. But this tournament is great and a good experience. We play in the Yonkers league and we’re like a family. All of the coaches talk and everybody works together. To us, if anybody in Yonkers wins, it’s a good day.”
Email Jordan Griffith at Jgriffit@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_JGriffith