CENTRAL VALLEY — All Newburgh Free Academy had to do was win this game and it could have claimed its first OCIAA Division I championship since 2005.
As has been the case all season, nothing has been easy in a topsy-turvy and unpredictable Division I.
Monroe-Woodbury sophomore point guard Kerry McHugh scored 22 points and the Crusaders’ defense kept the Goldbacks off-balance throughout in the 54-40 victory Thursday evening at Monroe-Woodbury High School.
Was that a career-high for McHugh?
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I just try.”
McHugh had four 3-point field goals in the game and also made four steals. She’s been a major asset to the team since starting point guard Amanda Bessim went down with a knee injury on Jan. 5. Bessim returned for very limited action Thursday on senior night.
“I don’t know,” McHugh said. “I just get the ball and shoot my good shot. I like 3-pointers.”
“I couldn’t be any more proud of her,” Bessim. “She’s stepped up completely. She’s doing a great job. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Monroe-Woodbury, which has lost just once in the division, the first game against NFA, in fact, has a chance to clinch the division Wednesday at Pine Bush.
NFA is done with the regular season and will await its seeding in the Section 9 Class AA tournament. (The Goldbacks will scrimmage John A. Coleman Catholic and may also schedule another scrimmage or two between now and then).
For first-year NFA head coach Rich Desiderio, it just may have been the right loss at the right time, what with a run through a wide-open Class AA bracket coming up for the Goldbacks.
“Honestly, it may be a catalyst for us to do good things because I would not have…if we would have come back and won by one point, I’m not getting their attention,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. I got their attention again.”
We also shot video at the game. Look for the clip on Varsity845.com Friday morning.
If you’re looking for updates from Friday’s MHAL girls’ and boys’ championships at SUNY Ulster, follow me on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery.