Nazareth Academy girls’ basketball team wrote a suspenseful final chapter to their team’s history.
The Section 5 Class B champions fell to Section 1 champs Irvington High School by a score of 80-70 during the state championship semifinal game March 19 at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, according to the Section 5 Web site. Irvington went on to win the state championship March 20.
In a game that featured several lead changes, Nazareth hung in until Irvington went on an 18-2 run, which proved to be insurmountable, said Coach Chris Belmont.
“Their size got to us,” Belmont said of Irvington’s players. “They started going inside and we just couldn’t defend against them.”
The Lasers reached the state semifinals with a 55-36 win over the Olean Huskies March 12 and a 43-29 win over Wayland-Cohocton Eagles March 9 in regional playoffs.
Nazareth won the Section 5 championship March 5 in a 60-50 decision over Wellsville, and Belmont logged his 300th varsity win during the Lasers’ sectionals run this year. The Lasers basketball team has earned nine Section 5 titles in the past 12 seasons and won the Class C state championship in 2009.
The game was the team’s last chance to vie for a state title; Nazareth’s school system is consolidating with Rochester’s Aquinas Institute at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, effectively ending the Lasers’ athletic program with the conclusion of the 2009-10 school year.
Belmont said there was no better way for the Lasers to end it than by competing once again for a state championship.
“I’m very proud of their accomplishments,” he said.