GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Alyssa Boll and the Kellenberg girls basketball team never expected to get this far.
Boll said the goal this season was simply to “make the most of it” every time the Firebirds took the court. With a league title, state title and trip to the state Federation tournament, it’s safe to say they did.
A dominant showing in the paint by Jamesville-Dewitt was Kellenberg’s downfall in Saturday’s 62-31 loss in the Class A semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center, but the Firebirds still had reason to celebrate.
“I would never in a million years imagine that my senior year of basketball would end the way it did,” said Boll, who had nine points. “I would not go back and change one part of it. I will never, ever forget the Kellenberg basketball season that I had.”
Boll did her part to keep the Firebirds competitive, but the overwhelming disadvantage inside was the team’s undoing. Jamesville-Dewitt outscored the Firebirds 32-16 in the paint and was led by Jamie Boeheim, daughter of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
A 15-0 run spanning the first and second quarters gave Jamesville-Dewitt a cushion after Boll made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to one at 11-10 midway through the first. The ensuing spurt proved enough.
But the final moments of the game weren’t without its fair share of positives for Kellenberg (15-13). Morgan Staab, a senior forward bound for Adelphi, received her fifth personal foul with 5:47 remaining in the game and was met by a standing ovation as she walked off the court after scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
Fellow seniors Boll and Jessica Brower each received individual curtain calls of their own minutes later, a gesture by coach Matthew Kirk that he said was done to honor his three captains.
“Without them, obviously we’re not here,” Kirk said. “They’re special to the program because hopefully there’s someone out there who wants to put on a jersey just like they did . . . It was almost like a passing of the torch. We return eight girls next year, and hopefully we can get back to this spot.”
So even though the Firebirds’ leaders were initially tearful as their final moments came to a close, their sorrows quickly turned to laughs and cheers as they watched the future of the program play valuable minutes.
Sophomore Gabriella Faya and juniors Brianna Gomez and Megan Sprotte were the early substitutions off the bench, though Kirk played everyone on his roster.
Those players, along with juniors Clare Calabro and Anita Mikowski, highlight the next wave of Kellenberg basketball, and they’ll take the experience gained from a loss to a talented team into next season.
The blend of experienced leadership and younger contributors helped Kellenberg outperform the expectations of its players. Of course, Kirk knew from the beginning that they had the capability to do something special.
“Tryouts, I’ll be honest,” said Kirk of when he realized his team had what it took. “I would say tryouts. They didn’t believe it, and I was never going to tell them that, but that’s why I have to push them every day.”
It was his encouragement that helped the program succeed despite a difficult schedule and throughout the season’s ebbs and flows.
“We proved so many people wrong, and I could not be more proud of everything we’ve done and accomplished,” Staab said. “It was the best way to end my senior year.”
For Kellenberg, it wasn’t just about the result. It was about the journey.