GLENS FALLS, NY- When both Cameron Corbett '17 and Megan McEwan '17 came into Staten Island Academy to start their freshman years, the basketball program wasn't one that anyone in New York City knew about, but with their goals and dreams set, nothing was going to stop the current seniors from putting SIA on the map.
It may have been a goal that people doubted, but with a NYS Class B Federation Championship having come their sophomore year, and a Class A Federation Championship last year as juniors they were already well on their way.
The lasting mark would be to close things out in style, and after a semifinal win on Saturday against James Madison they had their chance against the NYSPHSAA power they knocked off for the title last season in Jamesville-DeWitt.
Without a doubt, there were definitely challenges leading up to this run for Staten Island Academy, starting when the head coach of the previous two titles Rose Bruno, stepped down from her spot, and the school tabbing former Notre Dame Academy JV coach Nicole Sarcone to take over.
She wanted to put her own spin on the program with her assistants instilled new wrinkles to the already successful unit, but throughout the season the team that is called the "Strong Seven" because they only have 7 players on the roster, bought into everything she was selling.
They all as a collective group fell in love with their new coach, but while that challenge was overcome, another hiccup hit the team last weekend when McEwan suffered a Torn ACL in her left knee. Losing McEwan would mean that the Tigers would lose their heart and soul, but McEwan wasn't going let that happen.
Saying she was running on adrenaline and heart, McEwan pushed through the pain that she felt admitting that even with the Torn ACL that she will have surgery on next week, she wasn't going to miss one last chance to be crowned champions.
"To be honest I didn't think of not playing," McEwan stated. "Just mentally I wasn't going to let it affect me, it wasn't going to affect my jabs, and I just looked at it as a challenge."
It was a challenge that not many would be able to deal with, but with more guts than anyone Sarcone says she has ever known, she was out there leading her team on Saturday and Sunday to what she, Corbett, and fellow senior, two year Tigers player Clare Mitchell '17, hoped would be the culmination of a special season, and a very special high school career.
With Jamesville-DeWitt having fallen in the 2015-2016 Class A Federation Championship Game to SIA, everyone associated with the Tigers knew that they would get the very best this time around from the Red Rams, and with both teams hungry to prove that they were the best Class A team in New York State, it lived up to the billing as a game to remember.
A back and forth opening half saw a pair of late Elizabeth Althoff '18 FT's give Staten Island Academy a 25-24 lead at the break, but while the momentum going into the locker room was still hanging in the balance, it was the Tigers scoring the first 6 points of the 3rd quarter that started to take control of the game.
Outside of Momo LaClair '21 doing good things from long range for Jamesville-DeWitt, the Red Rams offense was stifled as Julia Kelner '17 struggled to get in good positions to score down low, and with Meg Hair '18 also being tightly contested on the perimeter, the stars for J-D were not seeing the success that they normally were used to.
Mitchell was playing with the energy and intensity of someone who was willing to put it all on the line for the title on Sunday, and even though Jamesville-DeWitt was on a pair of occasions late was able to get within 1, McEwan said there wasn't any sense of fear, saying that as long as they believed, good things would happen.
"When I saw them trying to come back I thought this can't be a repeat of yesterday," McEwan said referring to the late game rally by James Madison in their semifinal game on Saturday. "I didn't want to cut it that close so all of us seniors stepped up and I knew if the heart was there we would stop them."
There was more than enough heart as SIA truly seemed to be a team of destiny as even with Jamie Boeheim '18 able to do good things when she touched the ball in the paint for J-D in the 4th quarter, a late game drive by Emily LaPointe '19 gave the Tigers a 4-point lead that they would not let go of.
If a new coach in Sarcone, and McEwan's ACL tear wasn't enough to stop SIA, then nothing clearly would be and as the final seconds ticked down the excitement among the Tigers players continued to build, and when the clock finally hit all zeroes the celebration was on with the Staten Island Academy players all storming the court to celebrate the schools 3rd straight Federation Championship, taking down Jamesville-DeWitt for the second straight year to get it done, 47-43.
A total team effort, the former "Strong Seven" is now officially the "Magnificent Seven" as Althoff had 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead for SIA, with Mitchell adding 13 points, and LaPointe chipping in with 12 points as well.
Jamesville-DeWitt fell to Staten Island Academy once again coming up just short once again in their quest for the elusive Federation Title. Boeheim led the Red Rams with 13 points, while Hair added 12 points, though you can fully expect to see them back in the championship picture again next year as the main core of the team will once again return.
Never even in the realm of possibility to achieve this kind of success when first entered Staten Island Academy, Corbett and her two fellow seniors will now exit as 3-time Federation Champions and will have memories that will live with them forever.
For Corbett it's as special a day as she ever could've imagined as not only did she win her third Federation Championship on Sunday, but Sunday was also her 18th birthday, and there was no better way she wanted to celebrate than going back to SIA once again at Federation Champions.
"This is the best gift I've ever received. I started crying I was like oh my god because this is the best gift ever," Corbett said with the biggest smile imaginable.
An amazing moment for not just Corbett, but for all of her teammates and the Staten Island Academy program who were once doubted, but are now firmly planted as perennially among the best in New York State.