Athlete of the Year: Sophie Phillips, Cambridge
Larceny truly was in Phillips' heart this season, as she raised her steals total from 68 as a sophomore to 114 as a junior — despite playing in three fewer games. The 5-foot-11 guard utilized her height, wingspan and athleticism to become even more disruptive in the Indians' press.
"Individually, it is probably more on her. As a team, it was something we emphasized all year," Cambridge coach Bob Phillips said of his daughter. "They liked playing defense and they saw we played good defense, we got a lot of offense out of it. Sophie's level of intensity was all her. She really loves playing defense."
"As a team, we were really trying to get better with our defense," Sophie Phillips said. "Putting more pressure really helped create that. We picked up defense and it became easier to get more steals. Everyone was more aggressive. I think that is where a lot of the steals came from."
Phillips helped lead Cambridge to a 22-1 overall record and a third consecutive Section II Class C championship. Unfortunately for the Indians, the pursuit of a second straight state title was halted as the state playoffs were canceled at the regional final stage as the state deals with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
"It is really motivating not getting a chance to win another state championship," Sophie Phillips said. "Not getting that chance will make us hungrier knowing for most of us, it will be our last chance (next year)."
Cambridge will return its top six players for another push at a state title. This season, Phillips earned another Wasaren League Player of the Year award and also garnered Section II Class C tourney MVP honors. She averaged 17.2 points, 5.2 steals, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. The junior also knocked down 73 of 160 attempts from 3-point range (45.6 percent).
"I definitely wanted to become more consistent shooting 3-pointers," Sophie Phillips said.
Cambridge finished 22-1 overall and ranked No. 1 in the state. The Indians suffered their lone loss, a 45-38 setback at Mechanicville, on Feb. 12, snapping a 39-game winning streak. The Indians played the Red Raiders again three days later and registered a 61-41 win, led by 21 points from Phillips.
"That loss really hurt and it shows that you always have to play your best," Sophie Phillips said. "You can never let up. Going into the game, we knew we had already beat them. That should not have mattered. Every game is different. Being able to play them a few days later again was really good for us."
During the sectionals, Phillips knocked down 21 of 36 shots from the field in three games. The junior produced 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and seven steals in the Indians' emphatic 68-44 title victory over Maple Hill — the state's No. 2-ranked team.
Payton Graber, So., Schalmont: A four-year varsity performer, Graber surpassed the 1,000-point plateau with a 34-point outing in a 71-35 victory over Voorheesville on Jan. 14. The Colonial Council first-team selection averaged 20.2 points, 5.4 assists, 3.5 steals and 3.3 rebounds in helping the Sabres earn the No. 1 seed for the Section II Class B playoffs.
Avery Mills, 8th, Mekeel Christian Academy: Do not let her age fool you: Mills is already an accomplished varsity performer who has led the Lions in scoring in each of her first two varsity seasons. Named to the Western Athletic Conference all-star team, Mills averaged 22.1 points per game (eighth in Section II), 6.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 steals per game and knocked down 63 3-pointers (sixth in Section II). She scored 20 or more points 10 times and surpassed the 30-point plateau three times.
Lilly Phillips, Jr., Cambridge: Named to the Wasaren League first team, Phillips averaged 15.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game for the Section II Class C champions. The junior guard shot 41 percent from 3-point range and 77.3 percent from the foul line.
Sophie Phillips, Jr., Cambridge: The Wasaren League's Most Valuable Player, Phillips garnered Section II Class C MVP honors after helping lead the Indians to their third straight championship. Cambridge was unable to defend its 2019 state title after the season was halted at the regional final stage. The guard averaged 17.2 points, 5.2 steals, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Logan Thayne, Sr., Hoosick Falls: The Panthers' star center produced averages of 24.0 points, 14.8 rebounds and 6.6 blocks per game in her final scholastic season. Named to the Wasaren League first team, Thayne garnered her third consecutive Times Union first-team nod. Headed to play next at the University at Albany, the senior finished her career with totals of 1,723 points, 1,156 rebounds and 453 blocked shots.
Coach of the Year
Blain Goverski, Mechanicville: Led the Red Raiders to the Wasaren League title with a 45-38 win against Cambridge — the only loss of the season for the Indians — and the program's second straight Section II Class B championship. Mechanicville utilized an uptempo style and balanced attack to navigate a difficult Class B draw, earning the title as a No. 4 seed.
Molly Brophy, Jr., G/F, Greenwich
Charli Goverski, Sr., G, Mechanicville
Madison Graham, Sr., G, Ichabod Crane
Abigail Lombardoni, Sr., G, Fonda
Mikyla Mitchell, Sr., G, Mekeel Christian Academy
Janay Brantley, Fr., G, Catskill
Anna Lee, Jr., G, Johnstown
Madison Meyer, Jr., G, Duanesburg
Sabrina Pressley, Jr., F, Cobleskill
Alexis Wright, So., F, Berne-Knox-Westerlo
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