By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
In a season in which five local high school girls basketball teams won a game in the sectional tournaments, the Fort Plain Lady Hilltoppers stuck out.
Head coach Phil Karker's club won the Western Athletic Conference North Division and an area-best 16 games before falling in the Section II Class C quarterfinals to top-ranked Hoosic Valley. Leading the way for the Lady Hilltoppers was junior forward Abby Boyer, the Recorder's Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the 2012-13 season.
"Whenever we needed a basket, we went to her. That was one of the things we could count on," said Karker "If we needed to settle things down, we'd run a set for her; if we needed a basket, she was our answer."
For the second straight season, Boyer teamed up with classmate Haley Kilmartin to provide the area's best basketball tag-team, as the duo played nearly every minute of consequence for the Lady Hilltoppers. The best thing about the two stars, Karker said, is their desire to get better.
"They both realize they have a lot more work to do," Karker said.
In particular, Boyer showcased that attitude.
"We've got a few things to work on with her to continue to improve, but she played extremely hard and worked very hard every day in practice," said Karker. "She was always one of the first on the court and one of the last off, and would come in on Saturdays and Sundays whenever she could to get in extra work."
That persistence was evident in Boyer's game this season. After a strong sophomore season in which she was named to the Recorder's All-Area First Team, Boyer became a workhorse down low for the Lady Hilltoppers this season. In averaging a team-best 16.5 points per game, Boyer was a constant presence at the foul line, attempting 208 free throws during the course of the season and receiving double-digit trips to the foul line in 13 of the Lady Hilltoppers' 19 games.
"Really, last year she had that big breakout game against Spa Catholic and that really kind of propelled her to a great second half of that year and that carried over to this year," Karker said.
ALL-AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL FIRST TEAM
Erica Chase, Galway, junior
After a solid sophomore season, Chase led the Lady Eagles to a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference North Division during her junior year. Chase led the balanced club in scoring, reaching double figures in eight games. Chase's high game on the year came in a 61-35 victory against St. Johnsville when she scored 19 points.
Katie Herba, Broadalbin-Perth, junior
The engine for the Lady Patriots' offense and defense, Herba more than handled the most diverse role played by a girls basketball player in the area. On offense, Herba served as B-P's point guard, running the show while scoring in double figures in a dozen games. Meanwhile, on defense, the 5-foot-4 Herba played the middle position in B-P's unorthodox 2-3 zone and competed with the centers and power forwards of opposing teams.
Haley Kilmartin, Fort Plain, junior
Like Herba, Kilmartin handled a diverse role for her team, offering the Lady Hilltoppers contributions all across the box score. Perhaps most impressively, Kilmartin played heavy minutes for the seven-girl squad not even a year after suffering a torn ACL. "She really is our glue," said Karker. "She did everything we needed her to do."
Emily Parslow, Fonda-Fultonville, sophomore
Parslow became one of the top scorers in Section II this season, reaching double figures in her final 13 games of the season. For the season, the sophomore Lady Brave averaged 17.3 points per game and 2.1 steals. Her best game of the season came in a 60-40 win against Voorheesville, in which Parslow had 22 points, six rebounds and seven steals. Parslow also made the game-winning shot in the Lady Braves' late-season upset of Watervliet.
Kaitlin Wood, Broadalbin-Perth, senior
In leading her team in scoring and rebounding, Wood again turned in a dominant season. The 5-foot-10 senior was always the focus of opposing defenses, yet Wood managed to pump in 45 3-pointers this season and average 16.8 points per game. In addition, Wood eclipsed the 1,000-point mark this season and was named the most valuable player of B-P's holiday tournament.
Head coach Deb Wilday, Galway
The Lady Eagles' longtime coach inched closer to 300 career wins this season in guiding her team to a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference North Division and a win in the Section II Class C postseason tournament. While Galway's roster featured several stellar players, Wilday got the most out of a team that did not have one player capable of consistently scoring big; often, 10 players scored at least a basket in Galway's games this season. The balanced Lady Eagles finished 12-7 on the season.