TROY — Every possession was strained with tension and emotion, both from the players on the court in the Hudson Valley community and from every fan watching the incredible class women’s basketball final A of Saturday between Averill Park and Tappan Zee. The score was tied midway through the fourth quarter and the game was up for grabs. Amelia Wood, Averill Park’s senior dynamo, picked the perfect time to highlight her spectacular five-year career and put her team forward to stay at the same time.

Wood’s driving and scoring gave the Warriors a two-point advantage. Seconds later, it was announced over the public address system as teammate Taylor Holohan was about to take a free kick that Wood had become the program’s all-time leading scorer. The elder briefly dabbled in adulation and missed Holohan’s foul second shot and scored again.

Averill Park held off massive first-half foul trouble and a relentless, skilled Tappan Zee side for 32 minutes to secure a 54-48 win for the Class A State Championship. eclipsed the record previously held by Katie Duma, had 20 points, 20 rebounds and four assists to earn Most Valuable Player tournament honors.

“I’m so proud of how our kids gutted it all, especially at the end of that game, and survived a few runs they made on us and didn’t lose their temper when they scored two points (40-38) lead on us,” Averill Park coach Sean Organ said. “We fought and found a way.”

“I’m so proud of her that she achieved this goal. It’s been a long time (to come),” Averill Park main point guard Michelina Lombardi said of Wood. “To do it in the league game and make it the basket that put us ahead, you couldn’t ask for a better year.”

Individual records were the furthest thing from Wood’s mind on Saturday. The 6-foot-2 eldest, along with Holohan and sophomore Tatiana Tune, each faced foul play issues. The trio all committed two fouls in the first half and each sat out significant time as both teams went into intermission on 23 points.

Freshman reserves Arianna Velardi and Kayleigh Ahern proved vital to the Warriors in the final five minutes of the second quarter as Tappan Zee (25-2) trailed Averill Park just 6-5 in that span. .

“It was so important,” said Lombardi, who had 11 points. “They worked all year. To come out and really help us when we needed it the most is so impressive.”

“It’s been a consistent theme throughout the playoffs where we have foul play issues,” Organ said. “Ari and Kayleigh come off the bench and their defense has grown. We can put them there and they understand their defensive missions. To be able to go out there and contribute to a state final where they don’t give up points and keep us close.”

Averill Park came out of halftime and scored 12 straight points to take a 35-23 lead. The Dutch responded with eight straight points in 35 seconds and Wood closed the quarter with a field goal as the Warriors led 37-31.

Tappan Zee took the lead as sisters Kristen Phelan and Dana Phelan knocked down 3 points in five seconds, the second with 5:48 remaining.

“Three-pointers are daggers. They compensated a lot,” Organ said.

Wood, who grabbed 17 of the team’s 24 defensive rebounds, scored to tie the game and added the historic bucket to pass Duma (1,537 career points).

When Averill Park won the NYSPHSAA and Federation Championships in 2010, Duma was the mainstay of a team that clinched the program’s first title.


“It was my last quarter – the last quarter of my high school career,” said Wood, who has 1,544 career points. “I knew if I hadn’t come out and suffered that loss, I would have come out of my senior year with a loss. I didn’t want that to happen.”

Averill Park shot 10 of 17 (58.8%) in the second half, compared to an accuracy of 8 for 33 (24.2%) for the Dutch.

Says Organ, “There’s no secret formula when you come to this game. It’s who is going to execute a little better, handle the ball a little better, and who can execute the little things a little better.”