By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
SCHAGHTICOKE -- Minutes after Friday night's 64-32 loss to No. 1 Hoosic Valley, the No. 8 Fort Plain Lady Hilltoppers were already looking for ways to find the positive in a humbling defeat.
"This makes us realize we still have a lot more work to do," said Fort Plain junior Abby Boyer. "It sucks losing the games that actually count, but we've just got to work hard in the offseason."
The Lady Hilltoppers (16-3) finished their season playing against the gold standard in Section II Class C, as Fort Plain's loss came to the defending state champion Indians (17-3) in the quarterfinal round.
Hoosic Valley blitzed Fort Plain early, running off the game's first 15 points on its way to a 25-2 lead midway through the second quarter. The Indians' frenetic man-to-man defense gave the Lady Hilltoppers fits all night, as Fort Plain committed 29 turnovers.
"We're an up-in-your-face kind of team," said Hoosic Valley's Cassidy Chapko, who scored a game-high 21 points in limited minutes. In all, 10 players scored for Hoosic Valley.
"We're very aggressive and for some teams that have never played us before, it takes them a whole to adjust to our defense," Chapko said.
"That's how we practice: Going hard at each other, so we're prepared for physical games," Hoosic Valley forward Kim Kocienski added.
In the game's first minutes, Fort Plain looked out of sorts and was unable to get into its offensive sets. In the first six minutes of action, the Lady Hilltoppers managed only three field-goal attempts, all misses.
"They hit us pretty hard and we didn't know what to do," said Boyer. "They have really good help defense. They always had extra girls in the lane."
Those defenders sent Boyer's way resulted in the junior having her lowest-scoring game of the season, as the forward managed only six points -- all on free throws. Haley Kilmartin led Fort Plain with eight points, while Jenna Barhydt had seven, Kendra Trembley scored six and Allehah Van Loan added three.
Boyer also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, while Kilmartin had six boards and three steals.
But the story of the night was the defense of the Indians, which pestered the Lady Hilltoppers from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Against the stout defenders from Hoosic Valley, Fort Plain managed to only connect on seven field goals in the contest.
"They are unbelievable," Fort Plain head coach Phil Karker said of Hoosic Valley's ability on defense.
"You can't (prepare for it) unless you've seen it," he continued. "It's impossible to duplicate."
Hoosic Valley head coach Walter Dorman said that is by design.
"Not a lot of teams play man-to-man defense as tough as we do," said Dorman. "We have a philosophy: Make a girl be a player."
While a bitter way to end the season for Fort Plain, Karker said the Lady Hilltoppers could use the lopsided loss to fuel its offseason workouts. While the team loses three players from its seven-girl group -- Barhydt, Van Loan and reserve Kayla Wilder -- Fort Plain returns four starters for next season, including Boyer and Kilmartin, the team's leaders in nearly every statistical category from the past two seasons. Also, the team will get Vicky Dettmer back next season, a wing player who missed all of her sophomore season with a knee injury.
Karker said the loss could help refocus the girls and himself, saying that he would look to improve everything from practice drills to workout routines in light of the defeat.
"We start tomorrow," Karker said Friday of his team's preparation for next season.