By Sean Lynch
NEWBURGH — As the expression goes, “you live by the three, and die by the three.”
And for the team that shot 14-of-30 from beyond-the-arc — they live to fight another day.
FDR Roosevelt defeated Saugerties 60-46 in the Class A final. It’s the Presidents’ first ever Section 9 title and first sectional championship since 1986 when they were in Section 1.
“They got some good looks and took advantage of them,” said FDR head coach Jessica Paden. “To be honest, I tell them to ‘attack the rack’ but we spread the floor well and took advantage of some opportunities from beyond the arc.”
The three-point barrage started almost immediately, when junior guard Kelsea Demelis hit three straight three-pointers in the first 1:27 of the game.
“We did a lot of inside-out stuff,” said Demelis. “We’d draw our man inside and kick the ball out and most of the time someone on the perimeter was open.”
Earlier in the season, Roosevelt had lost to Saugerties twice. Kelsea added that her and the team had some pregame jitters before facing off against the Sawyers for the third time.
“It feels amazing beating them because myself and the rest of the team were really nervous coming into the game. Saugerties is a really good team. They’re talented and very well-coached but we communicated well today and came out on top.”
She led both teams with 17 points, and five three-pointers. She also scored her 1,000th career point, becoming the fourth girl from FDR to reach the milestone.
Kelsea Demelis’s 1,000th career point
Kelsea Demelis 17 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists
Deliah Smith 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
Gianna Caprioli 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal
Christie Collins 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
Grace VanRoy 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks
Anna VanRoy 12 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block
It was Paden’s first season as the coach of FDR after replacing Cliff Sauer. She played for the Presidents from 2005-07, averaging 12 points per game. For her, there’s no better feeling than being apart of a championship-winning season for her alma-mater.
“It feels like I’m at home. At the end of every practice, everyone on the team gets together and chants family,” she added. “I’m so proud of these girls; They executed what we watched in film and we got the win.”
FDR becomes the highest seed (No. 5) to win a Section 9 final since Highland (No. 6 in the 2016-17 season). They were an underdog in all three playoff games, defeating No. 4 Red Hook, No. 1 Cornwall & No. 2 Saugerties.
Being an underdog has its perks too. Demelis added that a lot of people doubted FDR, and they used that as motivation.
“I know a lot of people overlooked us, but our team knew what we were capable of. When we beat Red Hook & Millbrook in MHAL’s, that gave us a lot of momentum for the playoffs. If we keep playing like we’re playing, we’ll be a hard team to beat in the (NYSPHSAA) playoffs.”
FDR’s next game is on March 6th at 5 p.m. in the subregional round of the state tournament. They will play the winner of Section 1’s Class A final between Tappan Zee (19-4) & Somers (16-6) — which is scheduled to be played tonight at 7 p.m.