The 2nd week of August has marked the culmination of the Empire State Takeover summer league for the last three years; where many of the best players within 3 hours of Albany battle for the title & bragging rights for a year. Last year, a Section IX heavy Outwork squad overcame a 13 point deficit with 6 minutes left to take home the championship as the 2 seed. This year, the Outwork namesake – exclusively Section I & IX now – came into the playoffs one seed lower, but the script read much like it did in 2016.
With a new playoff format separating the top four seeds from the bottom four, the ‘quarterfinal’ game was aborted as matchups went straight to semifinals. Thanks to major efforts from Chloe Chaffin, an original Outwork member and Fordham commit playing in her 41st & 42nd EST games over three summers, along with timely contributions from fellow defending champs Rebecca Townes (3-year Outwork member) and Brianna Rozzi & a strong supporting cast of first-year players, their team was able to take down the top two seeds en route to the title. A full recap of the night’s eight games below:
(8) Show Stoppers 53, (5) Lockdown 39
It has been a long summer for Show Stoppers, battling injuries to several original players and some inconsistent attendance to fall short in every regular season game. They finally broke into the win column with a strong wire-to-wire performance and strong contributions from 2018 guards playing in their final EST games over two years. It didn’t look like it’d end that way at the outset though, as Lockdown started off establishing the perimeter & post in inside/outside duo Makayla Blake (Colonie 2020) and Sam Dayter (Cohoes 2018). Dayter scored 9 of her team high 14 in the first 15 minutes, 7 coming in a 10-3 run that gave Lockdown a 19-10 lead midway through the 2nd. However, they would go on a long scoreless stretch from there, as a pair of Maggie Kirby (Bethlehem 2018) free throws would start a 15-0 run for Show Stoppers reaching into the 3rd quarter. Hancock 2021 Laycee Drake, an electric newcomer, scored all 8 of her points in the run. Emily Frodyma took over from there for Show Stoppers, as she reeled off 7 quick points of her own to maintain the cushion through the 3rd. A Lockdown basket from Amelia Wood (Averill Park 2022) early in the 4th brought their deficit down to 6 at 38-32, but it was all Show Stoppers from there, as 6 different players scored in a game-clinching 11-2 run. A Frodyma basket pushed their cushion to 49-34, the largest lead of the game. She led all scorers with 19 points (7/12 FG), and she added 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Haley Steenland (Stamford 2018) went 4/5 from behind the arc and 13 points and 2 steals. Drake added 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks to her 8 points. Dayter contributed 4 rebounds along with her team high 14 points for Lockdown. Blake added 7 points & 7 rebounds; Jenalyse Alarcon (Troy 2021) chipped in 6 points & 9 rebounds.
Lockdown (4-7): Sam Dayter 14, Brooke Curtin 3, Kelsey Wood 3, Taylor Hansen 2, Jenalyse Alarcon 6, Amelia Wood 4, Makayla Blake 7. Totals: 15-6-39.
Show Stoppers (1-10): Holly Manchester 3, Molly Kirby 1, Haley Steenland 13, Emily Frodyma 19, Maggie Kirby 4, Laycee Drake 8, Callie Chevalier 2, Riqiya Harris 3. Totals: 17-9-53.
Field Goals: Lockdown 15/58 (Dayter 6/16, Curtin 1/6, K. Wood 1/6, Hansen 0/2, Alarcon 3/15, A. Wood 2/7, Blake 2/6), Show Stoppers 17/50 (Manchester 1/7, Mo. Kirby 0/3, Steenland 4/8, Frodyma 7/12, Ma. Kirby 1/6, Drake 3/7, Chevalier 0/1, Harris 1/6).
3-Point Field Goals: Lockdown 3/15 (Dayter 2/7, Curtin 1/3, K. Wood 0/1, Hansen 0/1, Alarcon 0/1, A. Wood 0/2), Show Stoppers 10/21 (Steenland 4/5, Frodyma 3/5, Drake 2/2, Manchester 1/4, Mo. Kirby 0/1, Chevalier 0/1, Ma. Kirby 0/3).
Free Throws: Lockdown 6/12 (Blake 3/7, Hansen 2/2, K. Wood 1/3), Show Stoppers 9/17 (Frodyma 2/2, Ma. Kirby 2/2, Chevalier 2/4, Mo. Kirby 1/2, Steenland 1/2, Harris 1/5).
Rebounds: Lockdown 39 (K. Wood 10), Show Stoppers 33 (Mo. Kirby 8).
Assists: Lockdown 8 (Hansen 3), Show Stoppbers 12 (Manchester 5).
(7) Young Guns 67, (6) Dynasty 45
After a very slow start to the summer, Young Guns turned it around and became a truly dangerous team heading into playoffs. Unfortunately, with the balance of the league, their late push only brought them to the 7 seed with a 4-6 record. They played like a team much higher than their seed once again, though, as a long run stretching from the middle of the 1st quarter into the middle of the 2nd set the tone as there was no question who was coming away with the win. Dynasty held the lead for a short stretch in a back-and-forth start, but the first points from Aysia Pink gave Young Guns a lead they’d never relinquish. The rising Guilderland freshman, who has been one of the breakout performers of the league, then followed up with the last 9 points of the 1st for her team to forge a 19-13 lead. 5 more points to start the 2nd stretched it out more, and a Molly Williams (Waterville 2019) free throw completed a 16-3 run and gave them a 28-13 lead. Dynasty would only bring their deficit to single digits once from then, when Emily Zeyak (Columbia 2018) scored 4 quick points late in the quarter to knock their deficit to 9. Lexi Van Vorst (Columbia 2019) responded with a three for Young Guns to take a 34-22 lead into the half. Any question was erased when Young Guns reeled off the last 8 points of the 3rd – 3 from Pink, and a 3 point play from Mikyla Mitchell (Scotia-Glenville 2020) to end the quarter – to take a 47-28 lead. Pink led all scorers with a season-high 23 points, and did so on just 11 field goal attempts. Mitchell added 14 points & 3 steals, and Williams added 10 points, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Haedyn Roberts (Holland Patent 2020) and Lexi DeBeatham (Shaker 2018) hauled down 9 rebounds apiece, helping Young Guns gain a 36-21 edge on the boards. For Dynasty, Zeyak finished with 8 points and 6 assists, and Deliah Smith (FDR-Hyde Park 2020) added 8 points.
Young Guns (5-6): Molly Williams 10, Kyra Oeffler 4, Mikyla Mitchell 14, Lexi Van Vorst 7, Haedyn Roberts 5, Aysia Pink 23, Lexi DeBeatham 3, Sophie Wittenbeck 1. Totals: 23-11-67.
Dynasty (4-7): Alivia Paeglow 4, Emily Zeyak 8, Kyara Triblet 5, Ahnalese Pearson 6, Paige Brinkman 5, Bella Stuart 3, Emmalee Morgan 6, Deliah Smith 8. Totals: 16-7-45.
Field Goals: Young Guns 23/59 (Williams 4/6, Oeffler 1/6, J. DeBeatham 0/4, Mitchell 5/12, Van Vorst 3/8, Roberts 2/5, Pink 7/11, L. DeBeatham 1/2, Wittenbeck 0/5), Dynasty 16/42 (Paeglow 2/7, Zeyak 2/6, Triblet 2/3, Pearson 2/5, Brinkman 2/4, Stuart 1/4, Morgan 2/5, Smith 3/7, Daubon 0/1).
3-Point Field Goals: Young Guns 10/25 (Pink 4/7, Mitchell 2/4, Williams 1/2, L. DeBeatham 1/2, Oeffler 1/3, Van Vorst 1/3, J. DeBeatham 0/1, Wittenbeck 0/3), Dynasty 6/19 (Pearson 2/5, Smith 2/5, Stuart 1/2, Brinkman 1/3, Morgan 0/1, Daubon 0/1, Zeyak 0/2).
Free Throws: Young Guns 11/15 (Pink 5/6, Mitchell 2/2, Roberts 1/1, Williams 1/2, Oeffler 1/2, Wittenbeck 1/2), Dynasty 7/13 (Zeyak 4/7, Morgan 2/2, Triblet 1/3, Paeglow 0/1).
Rebounds: Young Guns 36 (L. DeBeatham, Roberts 9), Dynasty 21 (Paeglow, Stuart 4).
Assists: Young Guns 12 (L. DeBeatham 4), Dynasty 11 (Zeyak 6).
(1) Next Big Thing 38, (4) Next Level 36
It was playoff basketball at its finest in the 6:30, as two teams that have won games with plenty of offensive firepower decided to turn up the defensive intensity & make it a grind of a game. In a game with a handful of lead changes that was always within range for the team that was trailing, Next Big Thing was able to throw the last punch and then get saved by the buzzer to hold onto the victory.
Next Level, a talented 4 seed that many looking at rosters expected to run the table in EST, held the lead for most of a low scoring 1st half. They established the post from the tip, and Belle Kranbuhl (Adirondack 2020) scored 6 of the team’s points and anchored the middle on the defensive end. An 8-2 run in the 2nd gave NBT a brief lead on a Julie Ford (Cooperstown 2018; Albany commit) basket, but Next Level quickly responded with a 7-0 spurt to end the half to take a 20-14 lead. All 3 of those field goals were assisted by Grace Heeps (Northfield Mount Hermon (MA) 2019); the last 5 points came from Sophie Tougas (Brewster Academy (NH) 2020). NBT came back with a run of their own in the 3rd, anchored by a stellar defensive start. Ford scored 7 of the 9 points, and they held Next Level to just one field goal in the quarter, a Jackie Piddock (South Jefferson 2022) basket in the last minute. With the score tied at 23 after 3, it was NBT that again started the quarter off strong. A 10-2 run to start the 4th, with Ford receiving help from Wasaren League rivals Renna Poulin (Tamarac 2019) and Logan Thayne (Hoosick Falls 2020), gave NBT the largest lead of the game at 33-25. Next Level responded out of a timeout with one last major push. Piddock & Tougas knocked down threes, both assisted by Heeps, and then Heeps hit one of her own to make it 35-34. After a Stephanie Jankovic (Averill Park 2018) free throw, Next Level received the answer from Kranbuhl. Her first points since the 1st quarter tied the game up at 36. That set the stage for Jankovic. Held without a field goal to that point in the half, she was able to get the ball in the lane, quickly make a move to her left and put one in off the glass to make it 38-36 with 20 seconds left. Their thrill came dangerously close to agony though, as a designed Next Level play led to the ball going in Tougas’ hands. After a shot fake from well beyond the arc & dribble, her running three sailed through the net, but left her hand a half-second after the buzzer.
NBT got a huge game from their posts, which has been the case as the summer goes on. Ford had a monster showing, finishing with 18 points & 12 rebounds, and Thayne added 9 points & 9 rebounds. Jankovic added 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, as the three combined for all but 3 of NBT’s points. Tougas knocked down 3 threes in the game and paced Next Level with 13 points & 4 rebounds, and Kranbuhl finished with 8 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks in another strong performance.
Next Big Thing (10-1): Julie Ford 18, Stephanie Jankovic 8, Renna Poulin 3, Logan Thayne 9. Totals: 14-9-38.
Next Level (6-5): Kylie Sisto 3, Grace Heeps 3, Belle Kranbuhl 8, Sophie Tougas 13, Jackie Piddock 6, Aubrey Halloran 3. Totals: 13-5-36.
Field Goals: Next Big Thing 14/49 (Doody 0/1, Ford 7/14, S. Jankovic 3/7, Poulin 1/9, A. Jankovic 0/4, Schuermann 0/2, L. Phillips 0/1, Thayne 3/9, S. Phillips 0/2), Next Level 13/48 (Sisto 1/3, Heeps 1/10, Moreau 0/2, Kranbuhl 3/7, A. Piddock 0/2, Tougas 5/15, J. Piddock 2/5, Halloran 1/4).
3-Point Field Goals: Next Big Thing 1/14 (S. Jankovic 1/2, Doody 0/1, Schuermann 0/1, L. Phillips 0/1, Thayne 0/1, Ford 0/2, Poulin 0/3, A. Jankovic 0/3), Next Level 5/25 (Tougas 3/8, J. Piddock 1/3, Heeps 1/7, Halloran 0/1, Sisto 0/2, Moreau 0/2, A. Piddock 0/2).
Free Throws: Next Big Thing 9/16 (Ford 4/5, Thayne 3/5, S. Jankovic 1/2, Poulin 1/2, L. Phillips 0/2), Next Level 5/8 (Kranbuhl 2/2, Sisto 1/2, J. Piddock 1/2, Halloran 1/2).
Rebounds: Next Big Thing 34 (Ford 12), Next Level 35 (Kranbuhl 11).
Assists: Next Big Thing 8 (S. Jankovic 3), Next Level 11 (Heeps 7).
(3) Outwork 58, (2) Rising Stars 48
It’s an EST tradition by now. On playoff day, it’s Chloe Chaffin’s world and we all just live in it. She continued this tradition in the 2017 semifinal, dominating the game from the opening tip and taking control again when needed throughout the game to help write her Outwork team a ticket into the finals for the 3rd straight year.
Thanks in large part to a hot start by Chaffin, a Fordham commit, the game was never truly in question after the 1st quarter. Outwork ran out to a 10-2 start, and another 11-3 run after a couple Rising Stars baskets brought their lead to double digits. A Rebecca Townes (Our Lady of Lourdes 2018) basket brought Outwork’s lead to 23-10 after 1 quarter, a quarter in which Chaffin scored 12. Their success continued early in the 2nd, as Erin Fox (Millbrook 2020) helped with a pair of baskets to extend their run to 12-0 and lead to 29-10, the largest lead of the game. From then on, Rising Stars would only cut the lead to single digits twice – once in the 2nd quarter, as a 10-0 run ending with a pair of Dolly Cairns (Saratoga Springs 2020) free throws cut it to 29-20. 4 more points from Chaffin stopped the bleeding for Outwork. She followed with three more timely baskets in the 3rd quarter, two coming back-to-back to extend Outwork’s lead back to 43-28 late in the period. Rising Stars chipped away once more, and a Cairns trifecta cut their deficit to 9 at 51-42, but it was Chaffin again who answered with a basket to extend the lead back to double-digits. Sam McKenna (Millbrook 2019) followed with a three to ice the finish.
Chaffin finished with a game high 24 points and added 7 rebounds & 4 steals. McKenna had a solid game for Outwork as well, finishing with 13 points (9 in the 4th), 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Fox, her high school teammate, had 8 points & 6 boards. For Rising Stars, Giuliana Pritchard (Amsterdam 2018) had 9 points & pulled down 13 rebounds. Cairns, along with Grace Mahar (Mount Anthony Union (VT) 2020) also finished with 9 points apiece.
Outwork (7-4): Chloe Chaffin 24, Brianna Rozzi 6, Erin Fox 8, Rebecca Townes 3, Madison Burke 4, Sam McKenna 13. Totals: 25-5-58.
Rising Stars (7-4): Giuliana Pritchard 9, Cat Almeida 5, Allie Pacatte 4, Julia Ryan 8, Dolly Cairns 9, Grace Mahar 9, Sarah Mattfeld 4. Totals: 18-5-48.
Field Goals: Outwork 25/54 (Chaffin 10/18, Rozzi 3/9, Fox 4/8, Townes 1/4, Burke 2/5, McKenna 5/10), Rising Stars 18/60 (Palleschi 0/8, Pritchard 3/10, Almeida 2/7, Pacatte 2/4, Ryan 3/4, Cairns 2/5, Mahar 4/10, Mattfeld 2/12).
3-Point Field Goals: Outwork 3/14 (McKenna 2/5, Chaffin 1/4, Fox 0/1, Townes 0/1, Burke 0/1, Rozzi 0/2), Rising Stars 7/17 (Ryan 2/2, Cairns 2/2, Mahar 1/1, Almeida 1/3, Pritchard 1/4, Palleschi 0/2, Mattfeld 0/3).
Free Throws: Outwork 5/10 (Chaffin 3/4, McKenna 1/2, Townes 1/4), Rising Stars 5/10 (Cairns 3/4, Pritchard 2/4, Pacatte 0/2).
Rebounds: Outwork 27 (McKenna 8), Rising Stars 39 (Pritchard 13).
Assists: Outwork 13 (Townes 6), Rising Stars 12 (Almeida 4).
(7) Young Guns 61, (8) Show Stoppers 43
A fast start from the upstart Young Guns was too much for the Show Stoppers to overcome, as the hot streak continued for the team in orange. The game was a runaway seemingly from the word ‘go’, as 6 quick points from Mikyla Mitchell (Scotia-Glenville 2020) & 4 more from Julia DeBeatham (Shaker 2020) helped Young Guns gain a quick 14-0 edge. Show Stoppers were able to gather themselves and get on the board, but a 20-8 1st quarter margin quickly blew out of proportion as Aysia Pink (Guilderland 2021) and Haedyn Roberts (Holland Patent 2020) combined forces on a 9-0 run to start the 2nd and extend their lead to 29-8. Show Stoppers didn’t quit, going on an 8-0 run to cut their deficit to 13, but Roberts ended the quarter with a pair of free throws, and the margin was never closer than 15 in the 2nd half. To make matters worse, Show Stoppers suffered a loss late in the 3rd as point guard Holly Manchester (Susquehanna Valley 2018) – who had 9 points at the time – went down with an ankle injury. A Pink three gave Young Guns their largest lead in the 4th at 54-30, and they coasted to the finish line.
Pink again led all scorers with 18 points (7 in the 4th), and she added 5 rebounds. Mitchell contributed 11 points (9 in the 1st), 4 rebounds, & 2 steals, and they received 8 points on 4/5 shooting from Lexi Van Vorst (Columbia 2019). For Show Stoppers, the twins combined for half of their scoring as Maggie Kirby (Bethlehem 2018) finished with 11 points and Molly Kirby (Bethlehem 2018) added 10. Maggie added 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in what was her best showing since returning just over a week prior from an ACL tear. Manchester added 9, and Laycee Drake (Hancock 2021) chipped in 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.
Young Guns (6-6): Molly Williams 2, Kyra Oeffler 7, Julia DeBeatham 6, Mikyla Mitchell 11, Lexi Van Vorst 8, Haedyn Roberts 5, Aysia Pink 18, Lexi DeBeatham 2, Sophie Wittenbeck 2. Totals: 22-13-61.
Show Stoppers (1-11): Holly Manchester 9, Molly Kirby 10, Emily Frodyma 4, Maggie Kirby 11, Laycee Drake 7, Riqiya Harris 2. Totals: 17-6-43.
Field Goals: Young Guns 22/55 (Williams 1/7, Oeffler 2/6, J. DeBeatham 2/6, Mitchell 4/5, Van Vorst 4/5, Roberts 1/3, Pink 6/12, L. DeBeatham 1/6, Wittenbeck 1/5), Show Stoppers 17/53 (Manchester 4/9, Mo. Kirby 4/8, Frodyma 1/5, Ma. Kirby 4/11, Chevalier 0/3, Drake 3/11, Harris 1/6).
3-Point Field Goals: Young Guns 4/16 (Pink 2/6, Mitchell 1/2, Oeffler 1/4, Williams 0/1, J. DeBeatham 0/1, Wittenbeck 0/2), Show Stoppers 3/22 (Mo. Kirby 2/4, Drake 1/6, Harris 0/1, Frodyma 0/3, Manchester 0/4, Ma. Kirby 0/4).
Free Throws: Young Guns 13/17 (Pink 4/4, Roberts 3/4, Oeffler 2/2, J. DeBeatham 2/3, Mitchell 2/4), Show Stoppers 6/8 (Ma. Kirby 3/4, Frodyma 2/2, Manchester 1/2).
Rebounds: Young Guns 34 (Oeffler, Roberts, Pink 5), Show Stoppers 28 (Ma. Kirby, Drake 6).
Assists: Young Guns 11 (J. DeBeatham 4), Show Stoppers 9 (Drake 3).
(5) Lockdown 46, (6) Dynasty 44
A Lockdown season that could aptly be described as a roller coaster finished on a peak, as they overcame a 9 point 1st half deficit to take a late lead, then held off a late rally and got a game saving block from a less-than-likely source to end with a win.
It didn’t look like it’d end in this fashion at the start, as Dynasty threw the first punch and went on a 12-0 run to end the 1st quarter up 16-7. Their balance was key, as they received scoring from 5 different players in the run. However, a staunch defensive effort by Lockdown forced their opponents into 3/15 shooting in the 2nd, and the inside/outside combo of Kelsey Wood (Averill Park 2020) and Sam Dayter (Cohoes 2018) helped their team clip the deficit to 2 by the half. The two combined to score all 13 of Lockdown’s 2nd quarter points, with Dayter scoring 8 of them. The game turned into a back-and-forth affair in the 3rd, featuring six lead changes on consecutive baskets. Wood stepped out and showed her improving range, knocking down her 2nd three of the night in giving Lockdown a 30-29 lead midway through the 3rd, their first lead since early in the 1st. The tug of war continued into the 4th, featuring three more lead changes to start the quarter. A Dayter 3-point play gave Lockdown a 39-37 lead in the early stretches of the 4th. Jaelen Daubon (FDR-Hyde Park 2020) answered with a Dynasty basket to tie it up, and a three from Averill Park 2022 Amelia Wood – her only field goal – gave Lockdown a lead they would no longer relinquish. After Dayter scored to push the lead to 5, 6’3″ Victoria Konicki (Voorheesville 2019) answered with a three to cut Dynasty’s deficit to 44-42. A Lockdown free throw was answered with an EmmaLee Morgan (Averill Park 2019) basket – the final of her team high 12 points – to cut it to 45-44. After a Brooke Curtin (Cohoes 2020) free throw pushed Lockdown’s lead back to 2, Dynasty had the ball on a sideline out-of-bounds set with a few seconds remaining. A broken play resulted in what appeared to be an open layup for Dynasty, but Taylor Hansen (Norwich 2019) – a guard – made the recovery from the weak side and climbed the ladder to block the game-tying shot right before the buzzer. It was her 3rd block in 8 games.
Dayter led all scorers with 19 in the Lockdown victory, and she added 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Kelsey Wood had a strong game, scoring 12 points on just 5 field goal attempts & adding 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Her younger sister, Amelia, had 8 rebounds and 2 steals. For Dynasty, Morgan added a team high 7 rebounds to her 12 points. Konicki added 8 points and 4 rebounds, and Anna Iannotti (Mount Anthony Union (VT) 2018) also contributed 8 points.
Dynasty (4-8): Victoria Konicki 8, Emily Zeyak 2, Kyara Triblet 2, Bella Stuart 5, EmmaLee Morgan 12, Jaelen Daubon 7, Anna Iannotti 8. Totals: 18-5-44.
Lockdown (5-7): Sam Dayter 19, Brooke Curtin 6, Kelsey Wood 12, Taylor Hansen 2, Jenalyse Alarcon 2, Amelia Wood 3, Makayla Blake 2. Totals: 16-8-46.
Field Goals: Dynasty 18/49 (Paeglow 0/2, Konicki 3/7, Zeyak 1/4, Triblet 1/3, Pearson 0/4, Stuart 2/5, Morgan 5/13, Daubon 2/3, Smith 0/3, Iannotti 4/5), Lockdown 16/48 (Dayter 7/18, Curtin 2/9, K. Wood 4/5, Hansen 0/2, Alarcon 1/5, A. Wood 1/6, Blake 1/3).
3-Point Field Goals: Dynasty 3/10 (Konicki 2/3, Stuart 1/2, Zeyak 0/1, Daubon 0/1, Smith 0/1, Pearson 0/2), Lockdown 6/22 (K. Wood 2/2, Dayter 2/9, A. Wood 1/4, Curtin 1/6, Hansen 0/1).
Free Throws: Dynasty 5/11 (Daubon 3/4, Morgan 2/3, Zeyak 0/2, Stuart 0/2), Lockdown 8/15 (Dayter 3/3, K. Wood 2/2, Hansen 2/4, Curtin 1/2, Alarcon 0/2, A. Wood 0/2).
Rebounds: Dynasty 28 (Morgan 7), Lockdown 31 (K. Wood, A. Wood 8).
Assists: Dynasty 11 (Zeyak, Pearson, Daubon 3), Lockdown 9 (Alarcon 4).
2017 EST Finals
(3) Outwork 57, (1) Next Big Thing 55
There have been many great games over the three years of Empire State Takeover, with several coming this summer, but this year’s finals go on a short list among the best games the summer league has ever seen. It was a scene much like the 2015 finals, just with an ironic role reversal. Next Big Thing, the 2017 version of 2015’s Outwork team, used an uptempo style and great teamwork to get to this point. But much like Outwork – which featured Chloe Chaffin and Rebecca Townes in 2015, just like it did this year – experienced in the league’s first year with an individual takeover by Danielle Migliore (now at St. Bonaventure) & great efforts by the Tougas sisters in a 57-53 loss, they received that same sort of individual output by Chaffin and major timely contributions from Townes, Brianna Rozzi, and the remaining players en route to a thrilling victory.
The tug of war started right from the tip, as the teams traded baskets at a breakneck pace early. The first 5 baskets included lead changes, and 5 of the 6 in uniform for Outwork scored in the first three minutes as they raced out to a 14-9 lead on a Rebecca Townes (Our Lady of Lourdes 2018) basket. They pushed the lead to 6 on a Chloe Chaffin (Kingston 2018; Fordham commit) basket, and Townes scored 4 more points late in the quarter to help counter a fantastic early effort by Next Big Thing’s Julie Ford (Cooperstown 2018; Albany commit). Townes & Chaffin had 7 each in the first 10 minutes for Outwork, giving them a 23-20 edge over NBT and Ford’s 11 points. It was Logan Thayne (Hoosick Falls 2020) who picked up the slack in the 2nd for NBT, as she scored 10 points in the frame and helped anchor a strong defensive effort that held Outwork to 2/15 shooting and 6 points in the quarter, helping NBT gain their largest lead at 37-29 at the half following an 11-0 run.
Outwork turned up the defensive intensity in the 3rd quarter, and it showed as they held NBT to an uncharacteristic single digit quarter (8 points) on 3/13 shooting. However, they suffered some offensive woes of their own in the period, with the exception of Chaffin. After scoring 10 in the 1st half, she contributed 7 of their 11 points in the 3rd quarter, with a late bucket trimming their deficit to 45-40 heading into the 4th. Erin Fox (Millbrook 2020) started the 4th with a basket to knock it down to 3, but Renna Poulin (Tamarac 2019) responded with a three – her 2nd of the game – to bump NBT’s lead back to 6. A Ford basket gave NBT a 6 point lead once more at 51-45, but that’s when Outwork made their last big push. Brianna Rozzi (Highland 2019), who made several huge plays in Outwork’s 2016 championship victory, started it off with two points off a Townes feed. Sam McKenna (Millbrook 2019) followed it with a basket, and after Ford scored her 18th point of the game, Rozzi canned a three off a Chaffin feed to cut Outwork’s deficit to 53-52. The two connected once more, with Rozzi connecting to give Outwork their first lead since the 2nd quarter at 54-53. NBT responded with a Thayne basket – her first of the 2nd half – off a Stephanie Jankovic (Averill Park 2018) feed to take the lead again. Up 1 in the waning moments, McKenna jumped a passing lane and took it the other way, getting fouled on the ensuing layup. She split a pair of free throws to tie it up, and after Outwork got a stop on the defensive end, it set the table for the final play. With NBT pressing and 15 seconds left on the clock, Chaffin got the inbounds pass and took it the length of the court, kicking out to Rozzi at the right wing. Rozzi’s shot fell just short, and Chaffin was able to win the ensuing scramble for the rebound – her 10th of the game. After securing the ball, she took one dribble left and avoided the length of NBT’s forwards and put home a left-handed reverse layup with 5 seconds on the clock to give Outwork a 57-55 lead. NBT turned it over on the ensuing out-of-bounds play, with McKenna once again jumping a passing lane, to seal Outwork’s victory.
Chaffin saved one of her best EST performances for last. In her 42nd game over three years, a journey that has taken her to the finals all three times and in the winner’s circle twice, the EST leader in games played and total points led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Rozzi, also a champion in both of her years in EST, made huge plays once again to seal the deal and had 12 points (5/8 FG) and 5 rebounds. McKenna added 8 points, and high school teammate Fox added 7 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Townes, the only other player besides Chaffin to make the finals all three years and be a multi-year champion, had 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the victory. Madison Burke (Kingston 2019) only had 2 points, but her value in the game could not be overlooked as she played a great floor game as a point guard to take pressure off players like Rozzi & Chaffin. For Next Big Thing, the posts were dominant from start to finish and it showed in the stats. The 6’2″ Ford and 6’1″ Thayne each had double-doubles against an athletic, but smaller Outwork squad. Ford had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, and Thayne had 16 points & 15 rebounds. Each shot over 50% from the field. Madison Graber (Schalmont 2018) added 10 points for NBT, and Poulin had 6. Jankovic was held to 2 points, but she made her presence felt with 6 rebounds, a game high 5 assists, and 3 steals from the guard spot.
Outwork (8-4): Chloe Chaffin 21, Brianna Rozzi 12, Erin Fox 7, Rebecca Townes 7, Madison Burke 2, Sam McKenna 8. Totals: 22-8-57.
Next Big Thing (10-2): Julie Ford 18, Madison Graber 10, Stephanie Jankovic 2, Renna Poulin 6, Anna Jankovic 1, Maggie Schuermann 2, Logan Thayne 16. Totals: 24-4-55.
Field Goals: Outwork 22/58 (Chaffin 9/24, Rozzi 5/8, Fox 2/9, Townes 2/5, Burke 1/4, McKenna 3/8), Next Big Thing 24/63 (Doody 0/3, Ford 8/15, Graber 4/9, S. Jankovic 1/7, Poulin 2/4, A. Jankovic 0/4, Schuermann 1/2, Thayne 8/14, S. Phillips 0/5).
3-Point Field Goals: Outwork 5/17 (Rozzi 2/4, Chaffin 2/5, McKenna 1/6, Fox 0/1, Townes 0/1), Next Big Thing 3/18 (Poulin 2/2, Ford 1/3, Schuermann 0/1, Doody 0/2, Thayne 0/2, S. Phillips 0/2, Graber 0/3, A. Jankovic 0/3).
Free Throws: Outwork 8/15 (Townes 3/4, Fox 3/6, Chaffin 1/2, McKenna 1/3), Next Big Thing 4/12 (Graber 2/3, Ford 1/4, A. Jankovic 1/4, Thayne 0/1).
Rebounds: Outwork 31 (Chaffin 10), Next Big Thing 44 (Thayne 15).
Assists: Outwork 10 (Fox, Townes 3), Next Big Thing 13 (S. Jankovic 5).
(4) Next Level 67, (2) Rising Stars 53
The consolation game of the 3rd annual EST summer league had every bit of the firepower of the game going on next door, but lacked the drama of its counterpart. Next Level went on an unprecedented hot streak to start the game and found itself up by a large margin early, and although Rising Stars continued to show effort and chip away, it felt much like their semifinal game as Next Level always had the answer.
The area of court behind the arc was friendly to Next Level from the tip. It started with a three from Allison Moreau (Sauquoit Valley 2019) on a Grace Heeps (Northfield Mount Hermon (MA) 2019) feed, and then Moreau paid it forward and found Sophie Tougas (Brewster Academy (NH) 2020) for a three. Rising Stars got on the board with a Dolly Cairns (Saratoga Springs 2020) trey, but Next Level reeled off a quick 11-0 run – 9 coming from deep – and Jackie Piddock (South Jefferson 2022) started & ended the run with threes to give Next Level a quick 20-7 edge. Jackie’s older sister, Abby Piddock (South Jefferson 2020), scored 5 quick points late in the quarter to give her squad a 26-11 lead through 10 minutes. Next Level shot a remarkable 7/8 from three-point range in the 1st quarter alone. They didn’t have the same success in the 2nd, but Rising Stars found it tough to climb from such a hole, even with some firepower of their own. Cairns knocked down back-to-back threes early in the 2nd to cut their deficit to 10, but Tougas and Piddock answered with baskets and Aubrey Halloran (Albany 2018) joined the party with a pair of baskets to extend the lead back to 15. A quick 8-0 spurt from Rising Stars – 4 points apiece from Grace Mahar (Mount Anthony Union (VT) 2020) and Sarah Mattfeld (Catholic Central 2021) – brought their deficit down to 38-31, but Heeps found Tougas on consecutive possessions to bump Next Level’s lead back to 12. Tougas returned the favor, finding Heeps for a three to make it 48-34, and after Mattfeld connected on her 3rd field goal of the quarter, Heeps found Tougas for her 3rd three of the game to make it 51-36. Late in the quarter, Kylie Sisto (Shenendehowa 2018) got in on the act, assisting a Halloran three and scoring herself to make it 56-38 after 3 quarters. Rising Stars would get no closer than 14 in the 4th, as Heeps kept them at bay with 4 points & 2 assists in the frame.
Tougas, who had just received a scholarship offer from Rhode Island earlier in the day after her announcement pertaining to her prep move and reclassification, had a team high 17 points for Next Level and added 5 rebounds & 2 assists. In the final game of the summer for Heeps, a 5’11” guard with 16 Division I offers, she finally grabbed her elusive first EST triple-double that she had been close to numerous times. She finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, and Grace also added a pair of blocks. Jackie Piddock added 10 points and 5 rebounds, and Abby Piddock had 9 points & 6 rebounds. For Rising Stars, Cairns had a fantastic game of her own to cap a great season, dropping a game high 18 points and adding 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Cat Almeida (Shenendehowa 2019) had one of her strongest games of the summer, finishing with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Grace Mahar & Sarah Mattfeld each had 10 points, and Mattfeld added 5 rebounds.
Next Level (7-5): Kylie Sisto 6, Grace Heeps 11, Allison Moreau 5, Belle Kranbuhl 2, Abby Piddock 9, Sophie Tougas 17, Jackie Piddock 10, Aubrey Halloran 7. Totals: 27-2-67.
Rising Stars (7-5): Giuliana Pritchard 4, Cat Almeida 11, Dolly Cairns 18, Grace Mahar 10, Sarah Mattfeld 10. Totals: 22-4-53.
Field Goals: Next Level 27/79 (Sisto 3/9, Heeps 4/15, Moreau 2/9, Kranbuhl 1/7, A. Piddock 3/6, Tougas 7/16, J. Piddock 4/6, Halloran 3/11), Rising Stars 22/57 (Palleschi 0/3, Pritchard 1/9, Almeida 5/8, Ryan 0/3, Cairns 6/13, Mahar 5/11, Mattfeld 5/12).
3-Point Field Goals: Next Level 11/29 (Tougas 3/8, A. Piddock 2/2, J. Piddock 2/3, Heeps 2/7, Halloran 1/1, Moreau 1/5, Sisto 0/3), Rising Stars 5/16 (Cairns 4/7, Almeida 1/1, Palleschi 0/1, Ryan 0/1, Mahar 0/1, Pritchard 0/2, Mattfeld 0/3).
Free Throws: Next Level 2/6 (Heeps 1/2, A. Piddock 1/2, Moreau 0/1, Kranbuhl 0/1), Rising Stars 4/14 (Pritchard 2/2, Cairns 2/3, Mattfeld 0/2, Mahar 0/7).
Rebounds: Next Level 49 (Heeps 11), Rising Stars 37 (Almeida 8).
Assists: Next Level 19 (Heeps 10), Rising Stars 14 (Cairns 5).