BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — From opening practices to the final days of the high school sports season, Shenendehowa High School’s sports teams and several of the competition squads associated with the school dominated during the 2015-16 scholastic year.
Here are 10 of the school year’s top sports stories, presented in chronological order.
3 IN 24
A week after the Shenendehowa field hockey team won its sectional title, a trio of Plainsmen squads — boys’ and girls’ volleyball, plus girls’ swimming and diving — won Section II championships in a span of 24 hours.
Boys’ volleyball got things started Nov. 6 by dethroning five-time defending champion Bethlehem in straight sets. Early the next afternoon, the girls’ swimming and diving team toppled archrival Niskayuna. Finally, the girls’ volleyball team capped the stretch with a dominant win that night against Bethlehem for its sixth consecutive area title.
Both volleyball squads continued on to compete in the state semifinals, as did the field hockey team.
At the Feb. 26-27 wrestling state championships, Kevin Parker capped his high school career with a second consecutive state championship.
In his pre-finals matches at the Times Union Center, Parker won three matches by a combined 46-0. In the Division I 182-pound final, he coasted to a 13-4 victory against Alexander Melikian of Section I’s Lakeland/Panas.
“It’s all you can ask for,” Parker said of his final win. “When you’re in these years in high school, winning something like this means the world to you. It’s exciting to be able to finish out my career how I wanted to.”
THAT’S MR. BASKETBALL, TO YOU
Eventually, Kevin Huerter went on to sweep all three of the state’s top awards for a boys’ basketball player. But no award was bigger than the first one he got, when the Basketball Coaches Association of New York, Inc. announced March 9 that Huerter was this year’s Mr. New York Basketball.
“I love it because he’s everything that’s right about high school basketball,” Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas said. “He’s a bright kid. He gives you your time. He goes into elementary schools and reads to kids. He helps out with the youth basketball program up at Chango, where he went to [elementary] school — and those teachers there all love him.”
Huerter helped the school’s boys’ basketball team to a 24-1 record and an appearance in the state semifinals as a senior.
In a back-and-forth game, the Shenendehowa girls’ basketball team’s fantastic season came to a close with a 69-66 defeat against Ossining in the March 12 Class AA state championship.
Carly Boland scored 25 points in the title game, while teammate Sydney Brown added 13.
Before falling in the final, Shenendehowa had won eight straight games. The most dramatic win in that stretch was a 67-62 win against Albany in the Section II championship, a game in which Shenendehowa trailed with less than 30 seconds left before coming back to win its 12th area crown.
Shenendehowa, which graduated eight seniors, finished 23-3.
“Winning a world championship had been a dream of mine since I started. I was in disbelief for a long time after it,” team member Brittany Anderson said. “It was unreal.”
In addition to the squad’s overall title, the team’s free-flowing routine won it a “Fan Favorite” award at the championships.
UNDERDOGS FIND A WAY
Heading into the May 27 Section II Class A boys’ lacrosse title game, Niskayuna was riding an 81-game winning streak against area foes and was just weeks removed from an 18-10 win against Shenendehowa.
With a 15-14 win against the then-reigning state champions, Shenendehowa scored one of the biggest upsets of the season. Matt Stucchi scored seven goals in the victory, while goalie Anthony Tebbano made 27 saves.
“Everybody knows about the win streak they had and about the state title,” said the junior Tebbano. “We knew we could win.”
TWIN BROTHERS DRAFTED
On June 9, pitcher Ian Anderson made Capital Region history when the Atlanta Braves selected him third overall in the Major League Baseball amateur draft, the highest-ever selection for a player from the Capital Region.
Coming off a 2015 summer in which he pitched for USA Baseball at the U18 world championships in Japan, Ian Anderson allowed three earned runs while striking out 55 batters in 42 innings. In the team’s postseason run, he went 4-0 and did not allow an earned run in 28 innings.
Then, an RBI hit from Nick Jacques tied the score. Next up was Joe Palko, who lined the game-winning hit into the outfield on the first pitch he saw.
“I just wanted to see them celebrate. Really, it’s all about them,” Shenendehowa coach greg Christodulu said. “They set goals and they stayed true to each other.”
Shenendehowa finished the season 21-5. In the postseason, the Plainsmen outscored their opponents 30-10.
DOUBLE THE FUN
Competing at the National Schools’ Championship Regatta in Philadelphia, the varsity double of Josh Freitas and Mike Campone won a gold medal.
Weeks before, the duo had won a state championship.
At the June 11-12 New Balance Nationals Outdoor championships in Greensboro, N.C., six Shenendehowa girls’ track and field athletes earned All-American status and five became national champions.
Sophomore Hannah Reale, junior Julia Zachgo, and seniors Emily Crounse and Danielle Jordan won the national championship in the girls’ 3,200-meter relay, while junior Jill Shippee won the hammer throw.
Senior Kristina Watrobski joined Jordan, Reale and Zachgo in the 4×1-mile relay to take fourth place.
Top-six finishers at the national championships earn All-American spots.
“An amazing finish,” said Shenendehowa coach Rob Cloutier, whose program won both Suburban Council and Section II outdoor team championships in 2016.
Twenty of the numbers that defined the 2015-16 school year in sports and competitions for Shenendehowa athletes:
1,671: Career points scored for Carly Boland, the fourth-most in school girls’ history.
1,454: Career points scored for Kevin Huerter, the second-most in school boys’ history.
109: Minutes needed to decide the girls’ soccer area title game against Niskayuna.
99: Points scored by the boys’ basketball team in a 51-point January win against Schenectady
96.85: Winning score for the school’s color guard at the world championships.
59: Total points wrestler Kevin Parker scored in winning the state tournament.
56.46: Section II-record time Luke Gordon leaves behind in the boys’ 100 breaststroke after the 2016 state championships.
55: Strikeouts in 42 innings of pitching for baseball’s Ian Anderson.
44: Where the boys’ basketball team’s league winning streak sits.
17: Goals scored by field hockey’s Emily Fraser.
15: Touchdowns scored for football running back Carl Fiore.
14: Sports in which the Plainsmen won Section II team championships.
13: Home runs hit by softball’s Kelly Barkevich.
11: Total school skiers who qualified to compete at the state championships.
7: Runs the baseball team scored in its first-ever state championship victory
6: Sports in which the Plainsmen won regional team championships.
3: Overall pick the Atlanta Braves used to select Ian Anderson in the 2016 MLB draft.
2:02.25: Section II-record time Julia Samson leaves behind in the 200 individual medley after the 2016 state championships.
2: National championships girls’ outdoor track and field athletes Emily Crounse, Hannah Reale, Danielle Jordan, Jill Shippee and Julia Zachgo combined to win.
1: The margin in the boys’ lacrosse team’s stunning 15-14 area championship win against Niskayuna.