Leading off today:
The third time was the charm Thursday for perennial Section 2 girls basketball power Shenendehowa, which pulled off a 59-52 upset of unbeaten Shaker in the Class AA semifinals.
Shenendehowa, ranked 29th in the state this week, previously suffered losses by scores of 61-33 and 59-40 against No. 16 Shaker this season.
Sophomores Carly Boland and Samira Sangare led the Plainsmen with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
"In our pregame and throughout the week, we talked about, 'confidence, confidence, confidence.' They are a very talented group, but they had to believe it," Shen coach Joe Murphy told The Times Union. "The win last week (in the quarterfinals) vs. Catholic Central really made them buy in that we're a pretty good team."
The Plainsmen move on to Monday's final vs. defending champion Albany, ranked seventh in the state.
Quite a battle: No. 2 Mount Vernon squeezed out a 43-40 win over No. 24 Mahopac in a tense, physical Section 1 boys Class AA basketball semifinal, advancing the Knights to Sunday's championship against No. 16 Spring Valley.
The teams grabbed 21 offensive rebounds apiece, scratching for second-chance points on a night they each shot just over 30 percent. Mahopac finished with a 45-39 edge in total rebounds.
"It was tough -- a lot of bumping, a lot of hitting," Mount Vernon senior Brandon Martin, who had a team-high nine points and grabbed eight boards, told The Journal News. "It was a very physical game, but we just grinded it out."
200 given the boot: Panas advanced to the Section 1 boys Class A basketball final by defeating Tappan Zee 39-38, but that wasn't the big story.
The 200-member-strong Tappan Zee student section was kicked out of building by a school administrator for a childish (and anatomy-specific) chant late in the game.
Tim McCauley, taunted as "overrated" by some of those same Tappan Zee students, finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and the game-winning bucket.
Surprise addition: In a gesture that flipped a proverbial middle finger at the rest of the PSAL girls Class AA field, Francis Lewis honored 6-foot-1 Chelsea Robinson in a brief senior night ceremony Thursday before the Patriots walloped Boys & Girls 81-50 in the playoff opener.
What's wrong with adhering to a time-honored tradition of recognizing a senior player, you ask? Well, Robinson wasn't a genuine Francis Lewis player until a few minutes later. Robinson, who came in from The Taft School in Connecticut, was making her first appearance in the lineup -- a dubious escalation of PSAL shenanigans that has real implications for the rest of the tournament field.
Robinson, who spent her first two high school seasons at Brooklyn's Nazareth High, scored 11 points in her debut with the state's ninth-ranked squad. "It felt great to be able to play and to play with the girls," she told the Times Ledger.
Robinson left Taft, a private boarding school in Connecticut, over the Christmas break after a year and a half of playing basketball there. She resurfaced at Francis Lewis and was added to the team's inactive list Jan. 27 -- four days before the eligibility deadline.
However, the PSAL rules on eligibility say "No PSAL student-athlete may participate in the same sport for more than one school (public, private, parochial) in the same sports season."