Boonville NY – Her stats certainly don’t show it, but it’s been a shaky basketball season for Adirondack’s Belle Kranbuhl.
The junior spent most of the fall basketball season nursing an injured ankle, and even injured it again within the first few weeks of the Wildcats’ season. Nevertheless, Kranbuhl has powered through, playing in all eight of Adirondack’s games this season, including Thursday night’s Adirondack Tournament opener against South Lewis.
“I don’t let anything stop me,” Kranbuhl said. “I’m just so dedicated to basketball that I just pushed right through [the injury.]”
On Thursday, Kranbuhl, as well as the rest of the Wildcats, looked downright unstoppable, scoring the first 19 points of the game en route to a 54-15 victory. The junior had 18 points, while classmate Hannah Miller pitched in another 13 and senior Cam Roberts added 11. All but one player contributed at least one basket for the Wildcats in the victory.
That’s nothing new, according to Adirondack head coach Jeremy Youngs.
“I tell them, we play hard and do your job, good things will happen,” Youngs said of his team’s effort. “If you play to your potential, good things will happen.”
The Wildcats certainly played to their potential from the opening tip, using their stifling defense to hold South Lewis scoreless for the first six and a half minutes. This time, though, it was Miller leading the way, scoring eight of the team’s 21 points in the quarter and helping the Wildcats start the game on a 19-0 run. On the other side, the Falcons could not figure out the Adirondack defense, being outmaneuvered by the much bigger Wildcats and remaining stuck at zero points for quite a while.
“We’ve been struggling offensively. It’s been our Achilles heel, putting the ball in the basket,” South Lewis head coach Dave Martin said. “[Adirondack is] large when it comes to rebounding. We’ve dealt with much more defensive pressure, but we just can’t put the ball in the basket.”
Despite the height differential, South Lewis finally found their stroke late in the quarter, scoring the last six points of the first period to cut the lead to 15 at the buzzer. They would whittle the lead even further in the first three and a half minutes of the second period, outscoring the Wildcats 5-2 in that time span to cut the lead to just 12 early on. They would be led by the long range shooting of sophomore Abby Durgan, whose six points led the Falcons all the way through the game. Unfortunately, that would not last, as junior Cam Roberts was finding her long-range scoring stroke on the other side. Roberts would lead the Wildcats on a 7-0 run to end the half, scoring five of the team’s ten points and giving them a 31-11 lead heading into the locker room.
“We got off to a slow start tonight,” Kranbuhl said. “We took it to heart, picked up our heads and showed them what we were made of. With our lockdown defense, we know we can go far.”
Despite the 20-point lead, the Wildcats’ lockdown defense was certainly up to the task, although this time, neither team would score for the first 1:30 of the third period. That unyielding defense managed deflection after deflection, not allowing a South Lewis point for almost six minutes of the third quarter. Meanwhile, Miller continued to shine for the Wildcats, not only pestering the already-tired Falcons offense into turnovers, but turning those into fast-break opportunities for her Wildcats. That allowed Adirondack to outscore South Lewis 8-4 in the third period, extending their lead to 39-15 at the buzzer. For Youngs, those four points they would allow in the third quarter (and by extension, the rest of the second half) was a testament to his defense-first philosophy.
“I’m a firm believer that your best offense is a good defense,” Young said. “That’s where I would like our cornerstone to be. Someone makes a good play there, we want to run the floor, take that energy and make a good offensive play.”
The fourth quarter, at least the first half of it, was Kranbuhl’s turn to make the good offensive plays. The junior was dominant on both sides of the floor, poking away errant passes from everywhere and turning them into fast-break points for everyone on the Adirondack roster. While Kranbuhl was the main benefactor, scoring six of the Wildcats’ 15 points in the quarter, five other Wildcats managed a basket in the quarter. On the other side, the defense that had been so dominant for 24 minutes found another gear, holding the Falcons to zero points once again, this time for the whole period. That dominance allowed Youngs to empty his bench for the final two minutes, giving everyone a chance to score (with several scoring to raucous cheers from the Adirondack bench) as the clock ticked away to zero.
When asked about his team’s performance, Youngs and Kranbuhl were humble in victory.
“Overall, we played well,” Youngs said. “We told them if you do your job, good things happen. [South Lewis] plays hard. They’re out there and they’re working for sure. If you’re not working hard, they’ll get some points. We told them, if you play to your potential, good things will come.”
On the other side, Martin made no bones about his team, who fell to 2-9 on the season. “We’re still fairly young,” Martin said. “Three of our starters are sophomores…It’s a work in progress. The girls have a lot of heart, a lot of energy. They’ve been working hard in practice. We’re just taking every game one at a time. The baskets have to fall eventually.”
For Adirondack, who improved to 6-2 on the season and have all three of their league games by nine points or more, a second straight league title seems imminent, and the Wildcats’ first sectional title since 2001 seems just as close. According to Kranbuhl, Adirondack seems to have all the tools to do just that in 2018-19.
“We did so well tonight. We showed everyone what we’re made of and what we can do. I’m telling my team though not to underestimate anyone. We all have to stay together as a team and we can excel…we’re willing to give it our all.”
Adirondack Wildcats 54, South Lewis Falcons 15
Adirondack Holiday Tournament — First Round
Wildcats 21 10 8 15 54
Falcons 6 5 4 0 15
Adirondack Wildcats (54)
Liz Lawrence 1 0-0 2, Hannah Miller 6 1-2 13, Cam Roberts 4 1-1 11, Larissa Wiedmer 1 0-0 2, Payton Gaylord 3 0-0 6, Erica Sanford 1 0-0 2, Belle Kranbuhl 8 2-4 18. Totals: 24 4-7 54.
South Lewis Falcons (15)
Teisha Partridge 0 0-2 0, Chloe Hunziker 1 0-0 2, Abby Durgan 2 0-0 6, Zoey Hunziker 2 0-2 4, Jordyn Makuch 1 1-2 3. Totals 6 1-6 15.
Three Point Field Goals: Adirondack 2 (Roberts 2), South Lewis 2 (Durgan 2).
Total Fouls: South Lewis 10, Adirondack 4.
Halftime: Adirondack 31, South Lewis 11.
Records: Adirondack 6-2, 3-0 CSC-I, South Lewis 2-9, 2-7 Frontier League-C.