Highland and Marlboro’s girls’ basketball teams played twice in a week this season, and the Huskies, defending their 2017 Section 9, Class B title, won both games.
Highland, which beat Marlboro for that title last year, reached the final Sunday at SUNY Orange as the one seed and Marlboro, the six seed, was there to try and derail any chances of winning another sectional title.
But it really wasn’t much of a challenge as Highland led 12-2 at the end of the first quarter. Highland continued to pull away, leading 45-20 at the end of the third quarter before settling for a 52-31 victory and a second straight sectional title.
“People say it’s hard to beat a team three times, so we kind of had that in our head that can’t take them lightly,” said Bri Rozzi, who led Highland with 22 points.
Rozzi went nine for 12 from the foul line while downing three threes. Candace McCutcheon scored 12 points for Highland, and Erin Lofaro led Marlboro with 15 points as the only Duke in double figures.
“It feels great to be a section champ again this year,” said Sam Garcia, who scored eight points for Highland. “We thought we would be able to do it with all the hard work we put in this season.”
Rozzi, a junior, scored her 1,000th career point this season and has continued to move on beyond that. But those scoring opportunities were aided by a stingy defense that helped secure another sectional title for Highland.
“We focused a lot on defense this year,” said Garcia, “making sure we knew how to play together.”
Marlboro was a state semifinalist two years ago and has proven to be a contender since then. But the Dukes have had to contend with Highland to try and get back into the state tournament.
“Tonight, we weren’t on,” said Marion Casey, Marlboro’s coach. “And Highland’s a great team.”
The Lady Huskies (22-1) were scheduled to face Irvington Tuesday night in a state regional playoff game at Beacon High School. Irvington beat Briarcliff 74-64 for the Section 1 crown Saturday. Briarcliff handed Highland its only loss way back in December.
By Bond Brungard