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Senior leader puts St. Michael’s ahead for good

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GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Janine Davis was having a hard time. The Murry Bergtraum press was bothering the St. Michael Academy senior point guard so much in the second quarter that Coach Apace Paschall had to pull her in favor of freshman Darius Faulk.

“I was just frustrated with myself,” Davis said. “No one should force me to struggle as a senior point guard.”

Paschall said sometimes he’ll take the emotional George Washington-bound guard out from time to time to calm her down. It definitely worked. Davis was the picture of coolness in the fourth quarter, leading St. Mike’s in its comeback. Her three-pointer put the Eagles ahead for the first time since the second quarter with 6:31 left and, on the next play, she found sophomore forward Taylor Ford inside with a nice assist.

St. Michael Academy went on to beat two-time defending champion Bergtraum 62-58 in the New York State Federation Class AA championship game Sunday afternoon at the Glens Falls Civic Center. It was the Eagles’ first federation title in their first time upstate.

“After halftime, I said, ‘This is my last game. My team needs me,’” Davis said.

It certainly did in the second half. Bergtraum (24-2) was ahead 41-31 after two CeCe Dixon free throws with 2:41 left in the third quarter. St. Mike’s (25-3) came back to cut it to 47-46 on a Allysia Rohlehr three-pointer with 6:59 left in the game and, after a Cori Coleman free throw for Bergtraum, Davis drained a three-pointer from the left wing with 6:31 left to put St. Mike’s ahead for good.

On the next time down, Davis threaded a pass underneath to Ford, who banked in a lefty layup. That Lady Blazers press wasn’t causing her to struggle any longer.

“I don’t confront her right away, because I know she’s an emotional kid,” Paschall said when he takes Davis out. “I think she needed a minute.”

Davis has conveyed time and time again this year how important it was for her to get to Glens Falls for the state Federation tournament in her last season. She’s been through plenty of close losses at St. Mike’s, including the one to St. John the Baptist in last year’s CHSAA Class AA semifinals, when the Eagles were favored.

“I don’t know how to feel now,” Davis said, looking stunned after the victory.

The Queens native missed the entire middle of the season due to a sprained MCL and wasn’t sure if she would even be able to play in the postseason. But, through the pain, she pressed on. Davis said her knee hurt bad Sunday, yet you wouldn’t have known it if you watched her play.

She transferred to St. Mike’s after her freshman season playing junior varsity at Archbishop Molloy and Paschall said she and her family took an incredible amount of heat for leaving the school, which is known for its superior academics. There were nasty phone calls and nastier posts on message boards.

“For her to be the key part in our win was huge,” Paschall said. “It was just vindication.”

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