TROY – Panama had no interest in being careful what it was wishing for when it set its goal on wanting to earn a rematch with defending state Class D champion.
That was the Panthers’ goal ever since losing in the state semifinals to the Bulldogs in blowout fashion last year. Panama wanted revenge and on Sunday morning at the site of the most painful defeat in program history, the Panthers had their chance.
With the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class D girls basketball championship there for the taking, the Panthers fell just short of achieving their goal but not by much.
Heuvelton defeated Panama, 62-60, before an estimated 1,000 at Hudson Valley Community College to complete the unbeaten season.
Tournament MVP and senior Paige McCormick scored 13 of her game-high 27 points during the Bulldogs’ decisive 18-4 run from midway through the third quarter to the early stages of the fourth, while Natalie Barr’s three in the final minute proved to be the daggers that warded off a gritty effort by the Panthers.
After the two teams played to a 24-24 halftime draw, the Bulldogs pulled away once McCormick returned to the game after taking a seat due to foul trouble. She started the run with two layups and later swished a trey to make it 43-37. Heuvelton led 47-39 after three.
Emilee Sperry had 17 to lead Panama (22-5), including a trey at the buzzer for the final margin.