TROY – Don’t hold Somers’ 53-41 loss to No.1-ranked Pittsford Mendon against the state-ranked (No.5) Tuskers. When you live by the three, you die by the three, and Somers High lived out the old adage first-hand last Friday afternoon in the NYSPHSAA Class A semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College. The youthful Tuskers accepted that fact with the poise of wily veterans after they battled the state’s top-ranked team tooth and nail for 28 of the game’s 32 minutes.
“Live by the three, die by three,” Somers first-year Coach Marc Hattem said after the Tuskers shot just 3 of 19 from downtown. “We struggled tonight and the pace kind of crawled, yet we were still right there with them. They dominated those last four minutes when the shots just wouldn’t go down for us. Some of our shooters struggled, and tonight it hurts us. I was always scared in the back of my head because we had seen so much man-to-man the last 10 games, and when they came out in a 3-2 zone that hurt us, too.
“Book us for next year,” the coach added, “because the best thing we have going for us is our youth. I think we’ll grow from this and be better next year.”
Despite dying a slow death behind the arc, the Tuskers were in this game every step of the way until the middle of the fourth when Mendon (25-1) pulled away. Somers (19-6), making its NYSPHSAA semifinal debut, led after one quarter, and were tied with the veteran-laden Vikings at the half. By the end of three, the Tuskers trailed by only one, but the Vikings were too strong on the perimeter and equally tough on the boards down the stretch, enabling Mendon to advance into Saturday’s state final against two-time defending NYS champion Jamesville-DeWitt, which went on to three-peat by defeating the Vikings, who missed on a last-ditch attempt to win, in the finals.
Somers junior G Jackie Penzo was lit early, scoring eight of her 10 points in the first quarter and was named to the All-Tournament team. Somers junior wing Liv Lipski finished with a team-high 12 points but found the going tough on the perimeter. Somers sophomore G Hannah Angelini added 10 points, but none of the Tuskers could match Sara Lyons, the Pittsford Mendon forward who went for 11 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter.
“They’re an amazing team,” Somers co-captain Livy Rosenzweig said of the Vikings. “We felt like we hung in there for a while and we did, but toward the end we just lost it a little, but I’m still so proud of us and what we accomplished this season. It’s amazing how much we did and I’m so happy for Coach Hattem in his first year here. I mean, who expected us to be here? This was an experience that you’ll never have again, not just the basketball but being here with friends and teammates. We fell short but hung tough against an amazing team. They are 25-0 for good reason. We just had some holes in our defense today and they just killed us on the boards, but I’m still so proud of us.”
The towns of Lincolndale and Somers, plus an entire student body, an athletic department and a throng of red-clad parents and grandparents concur: Pride is running rampant at Somers this year with four Section 1 team titles and two state crowns already in the bag.
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.