TROY – Panama’s first New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class D girls’ basketball final four appearance was brief, thanks to Paige McCormick and some cold shooting.
The Heuvelton sophomore and captain scored 11 of her game-high 24 points during the third quarter and surpassed the 1,000 career-points mark as the Lady Bulldogs trounced the Section VI champions, 57-39, before an estimated 750 at the Hudson Valley Community College Edward F. McDonough Sports Complex.
McCormick added seven rebounds, three steals and three assists to lead the Section X champions into their first state final against either Section IV champion South Kortright or Section II’s Fort Edward at 10 a.m. Sunday.
McCormick hit the 1,000-points milestone on free throw in the first quarter to make it 17-6 Heuvelton. Panama pulled within six as Taylor Bowen scored five straight points, but the Lady Bulldogs’ athleticism, length and talent proved to be too much for the Panthers. Nathalie Barr’s three-pointer sparked a 10-4 run to end the half.
The Panama faithful tried to infuse confidence in its team prior to the third quarter with positive cheers, but McCormick silenced them. She scored 10 points during a 12-2 quarter-opening blitz that sealed the Panthers’ fate.
Olivia St. Pierre added 12 points and 12 rebounds for Heuvelton (23-2).
Bowen led Panama (20-5) with 13 points and six rebounds, while Natalie Angeletti added 10 points and six boards.
Heuvelton shot 39 percent from the floor, including 7 for 19 from beyond the arc. Panama missed all 12 of its three-pointers and made just 11-of-47 shots (23 percent).
"We made history," said Bowen following the loss. "It's been great. I'm so blessed we got this far."