Northern Adirondack will be the new kid on the block today in its NYSPHSAA Class C girls basketball regional final against Hoosic Valley.
The Bobcats (16-6) are in uncharted territory, having captured their first Section VII title and state-playoff victory in their past two games.
Their opponent comes in with a different pedigree. The Indians (17-4) have won four straight Section II titles, eight since 2006, and were the 2012 Class C state champions.
History aside, the two teams aren’t all that different, sharing a strong emphasis on keeping other teams from scoring.
“I know defense is Hoosic Valley’s mindset, but it’s always been ours as well,” Northern Adirondack coach Jessica Barnhart. “I think it’s going to be a heck of a battle.”
Tip-off is set for noon at Hudson Valley Community College. The winner advances to the semifinals 2:15 p.m. next Saturday at the same venue.
After taking over as coach four years ago, Barnhart has turned the NAC program around. The team was winless her first year, and she opted to field only a JV team her second year due to a youthful roster.
“We sacrificed not having a varsity team, but I really thought it was better off for us in the future,” Barnhart said
The Bobcats played .500 ball last season and fell in the Class C title game. This year, they posted an 8-6 record as the only Class C team in the Northern Basketball League’s Division I, filled mostly with Class B teams.
The challenging schedule helped toughen Northern Adirondack up for the level of competition on the state level. That was proven when the Bobcats shrugged off an early 8-0 deficit and posted a 42-25 win over Section X’s St. Lawrence in the first round.
“This year I was willing to sacrifice to get better and we were able to also win, so it was that much sweeter,” Barnhart said. “I’m a firm believer the harder competition you play, the better you are going to get.”