Canaan Christian Academy girls vying for a playoff spot
While weather-related issues have been a serious problem this year, Canaan Christian Academy's girls varsity hoops team nevertheless is edging ever closer to a post season berth.
The Lady Eagles managed to get in a pair of NY-Penn League games over the course of the past seven days, each of which had ramifications for the 2018-19 playoff race.
Coach John Ashley's squad hosted Triboro first, and suffered a 35-28 loss. The local lasses rebounded quickly, though, posting a solid road win at Cortland by a score of 37-30.
With this latest victory, CCA improved its overall record to 8-4. The Lady Eagles are 6-3 in league action, trailing only unbeaten Triboro in the standings.
“While we still have a lot of work to do, this was a very satisfying win,” Coach Ashley said. “It was a real team win as everyone contributed. I'd have to say that all of our girls were 'stars' in this one.”
Weather permitting, Canaan will be back on the hardwood Thursday for a home game with Immanuel Christian. Opening tip is set for 4 p.m. at Varden.
The Lady Eagles had a tough time getting their offense untracked in the loss to Triboro.
Coach Ashley's girls were held to single digit scoring in every period en route to a 35-28 setback.
Canaan crept out to an 8-7 lead after one, thanks in large part to a scintillating start by Hannah Chapman.
The senior forward tallied six of her 10 points in the opening stanza. Chapman would finish the night with a double-double by also hauling in 12 rebounds.
Unfortunately for the hometown faithful, Triboro took the lead with an 11-6 margin in the second period and never looked back.
Madison Howell did a majority of the damage for the visitors, rattling the rims for a game-high 15 points.
Heather Lamberson turned in yet another solid all-round performance for CCA. The scrappy senior scored 10 points, grabbed six boards and snared a team-best five steals.
Emily “Shoes” Hughes contributed four points to the Canaan cause, while Brianna Smith and Celia Sheard chipped in with a bucket apiece. Smith also recorded five blocks.
The second half was a defensive battle as Triboro outscored their hosts 17-14 down the stretch.
Due to delays, dismissals and cancellations, the Lady Eagles came into the re-match with Cortland not having practiced since their last game versus Triboro.
Nevertheless, the girls showed very little rust in powering their way to a big road victory at Cortland.
“This was an exciting game right from the start,” Coach Ashley said. “I'm wicked proud of how we play as a team. These girls are incredibly unselfish and they just refuse to fold.”
Canaan trailed 8-7 after one, but then heated up with an 11-4 margin in the second quarter. The lead see-sawed back and forth after intermission, but the Lady Eagles finally pulled away late.
Lamberson paced the offensive assault with a game-high 15 points. She was aided and abetted by Smith, who dominated play in the paint with four points and 12 rebounds.
A sophomore center, Smith terrorized Cortland players all game long by either blocking or altering shots in the low post. She closed out the game with eight blocks and is now the school's all-time single season record holder with a total of 53.
Sheard took her game to another level in the fourth quarter … and her timing couldn't have been better.
The sophomore guard had been held scoreless up to that juncture, but came through with eight crucial points as time wound down.
Sheard slashed her way to a pair of field goals, but also calmly drained 4-of-5 free throw attempts.
“It was definitely Celia's time to shine,” said Coach Ashley. “It was so exciting to see her knock down those clutch foul shots because she'd been struggling all year at the line.”
Rounding out the offense for Canaan were Chapman (three points, six rebounds); Emily Hughes (five pts); Gracie Hughes (two pts).