Bria Watkins was the rock to lean on in the first half. Big sister Mariah took over in the second.
Together, the Watkins sisters helped power Webster Schroeder to a gritty 49-41 win over White Plains in the Class AA state championship Saturday night at Hudson Valley Community College near Albany. It was the first state title in program history and followed the first sectional title won by Schroeder since 1976.
“It is surreal,” head coach Codi Mrozek said. “We just the first sectional championship in 47 years. To win states now, it’s surreal, but it’s also so earned and I knew that this team could do it. Very talented but they buy into everything else. So, it’s very deserving.”
Bria Watkins scored seven of the Warriors’ 20 first half points, including a short floater at the halftime buzzer that sent Schroeder to the locker room up 20-14.
Mariah didn’t hit the scoresheet until nearly the final two minutes of the first half. However, she opened the third quarter with a three-pointer that might also have doubled a warning siren she was going to own the final 16 minutes. She scored 15 of her game high 18 points after the break.
White Plains never went away in this game. Schroeder led by six late in the third quarter when Mya Perales and Addison Morgan canned back to back three’s that doubled the lead to 12 points. It still wasn’t enough.
The Tigers whittled the deficit back down to four with three minutes left in the game, but Morgan navigated two defenders for a fast break layup and the Warriors finished the win with free throws.
Morgan’s 14 points and three triples were a huge contribution for Webster. Bria Watkins finished the game with nine points and seven rebounds. Mariah also grabbed 12 boards. The Warriors took the state championship without much experience but did show urgency beyond their years.
“Having no seniors on the team plus the willingness to win and not thinking that we’ll get back here again. This is it no matter what,” Mrozek said. “Just playing with so much heart today and not giving up.”
The Warriors have now won 11 in a row and upped their impressive record to 25-1. They will also get a chance to avenge the “1”.
They will move on to the New York State Federation tournament next weekend against New York City public schools and private schools not included in the NYSPHSAA tournament. They will next face St. Mary’s high school from Lancaster near Buffalo. The Warriors lost at St. Mary’s 66-64 in late January for their only defeat so far this season.
The Federation semifinal against St. Mary’s will tip at 3pm Saturday in Albany.