Times Union All-Stars: Small-School Girls’ Basketball

When her college career began as a seventh grader, Graber and her teammates found it extremely difficult to win. As the prominent guard ended her university trip for the Sabers this winter, victories ultimately defined her undeniable presence in the program’s history.

Not only is Graber Schalmont’s leading scorer ever with 2,033 points, she was the driving force behind the first Class B state championship. The senior guard finished a tournament where she got the most valuable players with 20 points as the Sabers beat Waterloo 56-54 at Hudson Valley Community College.

“You go back to last year when we knew there would be no sections, she was locked in – in practice and in fights – knowing we were preparing for this year,” Schalmont coach Jeff Van Hoesen said. “The first goal was the section championship. We wanted to plan (by playing Class AA teams) and she was most excited to play against tougher teams like Fairport, Bethlehem and Colonie, so we proved ourselves as a team and she also improved as an individual. “

“It’s just surreal,” Graber said. “To cope with it all the way after facing so many obstacles with COVID and all sorts of things, the satisfaction of winning it all your last year is amazing.”

Graber and fellow senior guard Haley Burchhardt, both six-year-old college standouts, led the attack for a team that finished with a superlative 27-1 overall record. In Graber’s first season, playing alongside big sister Madison, the Sabers won just three games.
Having the opportunity to compete against Class AA competitions during the season is something that Graber not only reveled in, she excelled in every competition. She got 18 points against Colonie, got 26 points and 12 steals against Fairport, got 28 points against Niskayuna and scored 26 points against Bethlehem.

Graber matched her season high of 30 points in the Section II semifinals as she drained eight 3-pointers in a 50-33 verdict over Ichabod Crane.


The senior, who attracts Division II and recruits interest, finished second in Division II in 3-pointers (76) and sixth in scoring (21.7 points per game). Graber achieved her third first-team pick in the Times Union in a row, culminating her enormous scholastic career with memorable performances in state tournaments in victories over General Brown and Waterloo, where she combined to knock down nine 3-pointers.

“She has a deny-to-lose mentality and has been working towards this for so long,” Van Hoesen said. “Payton ended his career in style.”

“Not only am I so glad I was able to do it for myself, but it meant a lot to help the team win in the two toughest games we had all year,” Graber said. “We did everything we wanted this season.”

First team

Karissa Antoine, So., F, Schalmont: The prominent striker completed his third college season by winning Class B state full tournaments after helping the Sabers claim the title. Antoine, a Colonial Council first-team pick, showed tremendous all-around skills averaging 18.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots per game. She is entering her junior season after scoring 895 career points.

Janay Brantley, Jr., G, Catskill: This year’s player in the Patroon Conference raised his all-around game to another level in his fifth college season – averaging 29.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 7.2 steals per game. match. Brantley, the program’s leading scorer ever with 1,744 points, recorded six triple-doubles over the course of the season, joining 57 3-pointers and topping Section II in scoring.

Payton Graber, Sr., G, Schalmont: The Colonial Council’s Player of the Year really excelled when it mattered most, scoring 13 of its top-20 points in the fourth quarter of the Class B semifinal’s 52-42 victory over General Brown and followed up by scoring 20 points in the 56 -54 state championship triumph over Waterloo. Graber averaged 21.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 5.4 steals per game. struggle in its sixth university campaign.

Madison Meyer, Sr., G, Duanesburg: After missing his junior season with an ankle injury, Meyer returned with a rematch for his last scholastic campaign, leading the Eagles to their first Section II Class C championship and a spot in the state’s final four. On his way to play his collegiate basketball at Skidmore College, Meyer (a five-year captain) averaged 17.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.1 steals per game.

Alexis Wright, Sr., F, Berne-Knox-Westerlo: Named the Times Union’s first team in 2021, Wright ended a superlative college career after delivering 1,890 points and 1,279 rebounds for the Bulldogs. She averaged 27.4 points (second in Section II) and 16.2 rebounds per game. fight this season and is set to continue her career at Delaware Valley University, where she will major in veterinary science. The senior forward delivered 43 points, 23 rebounds and seven steals in an 80-64 loss to Duanesburg.

Coach of the year

Jeff Van Hoesen, Schalmont: In addition to guiding his team to the best record in the Colonial Council and a No. 1 section seed, Van Hoesen put up four Class AA enemies and the Sabers went 3-1 in those fights. Schalmont captured his first Section II Class B title since 1986, securing the program’s first state championship with a captivating 56-54 triumph over Waterloo in the final.

Second team

Haley Burchhardt, Sr., G, Schalmont

Allison O’Hanlon, So., G, Duanesburg

Alex Moses, So., G, Duanesburg

Norah Niesz, So., G, Greenwich

Carolina Williams, Fr., G, Ichabod Crane

Third team

Jaidyn Chest, Jr., G, Johnstown

Saige Randolph, Jr., G, Albany Academy for Girls

Kyla Smith, Sr., G, Fonda

Hannah VanDerzee, Jr., F, Ravena

Jaden Wilson, Sr., F, Johnstown

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