Cardiac Kids Stage Another Comeback as Albany Downs AP

Setting the Scene: 24 hours after hitting the road for a matchup pitting Section IX Class AA & A champions against each other, it was time for Section II’s reigning victors in the two largest classifications to do the same. The Falcons of Albany High, 5-0 but with no shortage of dramatics along the way, hosted the Averill Park Warriors, 3-1 and coming off an extended layoff due to last Friday’s snow-out. As is often the case, Tuesday brought no shortage of interesting matchups, but this was one of those ‘I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t here’ games.

Nevaeh House made her presence felt at both ends after halftime and led the Falcons with 17 points in the win.

Albany 64, Averill Park 59

75 Words or Less: This whole comeback thing probably isn’t good for Coach Lawson’s heart rate, but it’s looking pretty natural for his Albany team. For the fourth time in six games, the Falcons trailed in the second half. For the fourth time, they won. Albany was down as much as 15 early and 7 in the 4th, but an 11-0 run fueled by defense & Azera Gates flipped the script for good as they pulled out another victory.


Albany is the reigning Section II Class AA champion. They have talent & unbridled athleticism. Their home court on Washington Ave. is as tough a place to play for opponents as there is in the section. And do you think any of that mattered to near decade-long defending Class A champ Averill Park out of the gate? Not a chance.

Shonyae Edmonds (Albany 2023) opened the scoring at the rim for the Falcons, but Taylor Holohan (AP 2024) answered with an and-one on the Warriors’ next possession and they were off to the races. Edmonds’ second bucket at the 5:16 mark was the last field goal Albany would make in the opening frame, and time & time again, Averill Park had a date with the rim. It was Ari Verardi (AP 2025) that came out on a tear for AP, scoring the last 7 in an 11-0 run to push AP’s early lead to 17-4. The Falcons saw starting backcourt Azera Gates (Albany 2025) and Nevaeh House (Albany 2023) go to the bench in the midst of that stretch due to early foul issues. Albany momentarily stemmed the tide during the back end of the quarter as they put AP into a foul situation themselves, with starting guards Kayleigh Ahern (AP 2025) & Bailee Lange (AP 2023, Western New England commit) being tagged for 3 and 2 first quarter fouls respectively. Amari Scott-Starr (Albany 2023) went 3/4 from the line over the last few possessions, and the end of the quarter saw AP leading 18-8.

Another quarter, another double digit run for Averill Park. Edmonds hit a right wing three to trim Albany’s deficit to 20-15, but a frontcourt-fueled flurry quickly gave the Warriors their largest lead of the night as Holohan and Tatiana Tune (AP 2024) combined for 8 in a 10-0 stretch to push their lead to 30-15. But with this being the ultimate game of runs, the hosts made sure that was all but wiped away by halftime. With Gates & House back on the floor, Albany turned the tide and created the frenetic environment they wanted to force AP into playing. House started it with a three and the avalanche went from there. In all, the last 3:30 of the half saw multiple makes from Edmonds, House, and Jordan Johnson (Albany 2024) account for the majority of a 16-2 run, those two AP points coming on free throws. The energy was lifted on the floor, the crowd was very much back into it, and a Gates drive & dump to Edmonds in the closing seconds of the half cut Albany’s deficit to 32-31 at intermission.

Where the first half had momentum shifts that felt more like mood swings, the 3rd quarter was the stalemate in a tug-of-war. The lead never crossed into Albany’s possession, but it was a one-possession game for the entirety of the frame. Six different players, three on each team, got layups in the teams’ first handful of 2nd half possessions in a quick flurry. Another House bucket at the 2:18 mark tied it for the first time at 41, but the Warriors quickly regained a narrow edge with a Tune layup. She added a free throw after getting fouled in the last couple seconds of the quarter to give her team a 44-41 lead.

Two free throws from Lange & another Tune finish pushed Averill Park’s lead back out to 7 early in the 4th and another Holohan bucket had it at 52-47 at the midway point. That’s where Albany made their game-breaking push. Gates split a pair at the line with 3:51 remaining, and a couple possessions later, defense turned to offense with an Edmonds block turning into an Iyana Weedon (Albany 2024) layup at the other end. Edmonds tied it at the 2:50 mark, and back-to-back Gates downhill takes & finishes in the paint gave Albany a two-possession with just under two to play. The Falcon run eventually stretched to 11-0 before Tune hit a pair of free throws. AP forced a desperation three just before the shot clock expired on the ensuing possession, but they were unable to corral the defensive rebound as Edmonds tracked the loose ball. The Warriors were forced to foul to extend the game at that point, and Albany made 6 of their last 8 – with Gates going 5/6 – to keep at least a two-possession cushion to the buzzer.

Nevaeh House led three Falcons in double digits with 17 points, all in the last three quarters. Shonyae Edmonds joined her in double digits with 16 and Azera Gates chipped in with 12, including 10 big ones in the final four minutes of play. Averill Park was led in the books by the frontcourt, as Taylor Holohan pumped in a game high 22 points and Tatiana Tune added 17. Arianna Verardi contributed 14 to the cause, 10 of those coming in the 1st quarter.

Next Up: The rest of the month is no breeze for Albany either. They welcome Youngstown St. bound Amya McLeod and her Rome Free Academy team for a 2:00 tip on Friday, then take a short trip west for the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase on the 27th & 28th, where they’ll link up with nationally regarded 2025 Madison Francis and reigning Section VI Class AA champ Lancaster along with fellow standout 2025 Zoe Mesuch and defending Section IX Class A champ Wallkill. It’s straight to holiday showcase play for Averill Park, who is set to spend the 28th & 29th at the Impact Athletic Center in Halfmoon for the Impact Holiday Showcase. They have a pair of scheduled 6:45 tips against Guilderland and Our Lady of Lourdes (Section IX).

With the likes of Fairfield in the gym for her, one of the several D1 programs that has already offered, Taylor Holohan went for a game high 22 points for Averill Park.


  • Look at Albany’s box scores so far this year and you almost have to laugh. They’re currently 6-0 after this win. In two of those games – Columbia & Burnt Hills – they pretty much got it out of the way in the first half. Besides that… down by 1 after three at Niskayuna (won 50-47). Down 10 at half/9 after three the next day at Bishop Ludden (won 67-62). Down 34-21 to White Plains at half (won 64-60). Then Tuesday, down 30-15 mid-2nd and 48-41 early 4th to Averill Park and won 64-59. The comeback kids pulled off another one, and now it’s feeling like the Tiger Woods effect. You know they’re coming and have to mentally withstand it just as much as physically. I’m curious to see what the response is if/when they’re in this situation and someone does hold them off – that’s when I think I’ll really learn something about this year’s Albany team – but for now, they’re showing their strength in ability to ‘land body blows’ and effectively wear opponents down & eventually make them crack before 32 minutes is up.
  • From a scoring standpoint and on the offensive end in general, it feels like Albany has a bit of a ‘big three’ situation in 2023s Shonyae Edmonds, Nevaeh House, and 2025 Azera Gates. Other players have given plenty of contribution offensively, but that’s who the offense works around. AZ is a major key and is as dangerous of an overall PG as any in Section II when she turns it downhill (and let me reiterate this… one of my favorites to watch in the area). Let’s do something I don’t do as much though and talk about the defensive end. If Tuesday told me anything, where it’s those three that are keys offensively, it’s Jordan Johnson that makes the whole thing go on the defensive end. She gave some meaningful offensive contribution with 9 points in the books, but it was fun to watch the Albany 2024 guard defend. Her effort level, commitment, and desire to win the physical & mental game at that end was impressive. She pressured the ball, picked right times to run & jump others, made a couple tremendous hustle plays in scramble mode to prevent what probably would’ve been layups, and making whoever she was guarding uncomfortable felt like a main goal for her. Pat Bev vibes watching Jordan Johnson work.
  • The last two times I’ve watched Averill Park have been close losses in 32 minute battles that I felt like I needed the car ride home with no sound just to decompress. Typical AP, with the exception of last year when they also pretty much ran through their Suburban schedule too. Win some battles & lose some battles in the regular season and end up infinitely more prepared for the Class A stretch run. Very few Class A schools in New York get tested in their league schedule like those that call the Suburban Council home.
  • I travel across New York and we can throw western Mass, Vermont, and northern PA into this too. Rattle off about 10 area codes and I’ve been in many of their high schools’ gyms for a scholastic game – if we’re talking the more highly regarded programs in all of those areas, it’s been pretty much all of them. I’ve been trying to think if there’s an environment in any gym that’s as consistently amped up as Albany, and I don’t think there is. Fun place to play if you’re one of those psychos like I was that enjoyed the wild road environments; ‘least favorite place to play’ territory for everyone else.

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