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Keio Beats Solomon Schechter to Reach Finals

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Keio is moving on to the Class C finals.

The Unicorns defeated Solomon Schechter, 31-16, on Tuesday at the Westchester County Center in the semifinals. They will face the winner of the other semifinal game, which pits Hamilton against Haldane, on Saturday.

Keio girl’s basketball coach Justin Loeb said he tried to use last year’s experience to help his players adjust to playing on the floor of the County Center.

“We had our girls on Sunday watch last year’s tape to bring back memories for the old girls and for the new girls to feel that experience,” Loeb said.

It seemed that the strategy paid off, as Keio raced out to a 10-2 lead after the first quarter and led 18-8 at the half.

The girls also watched the boys play on Monday in a game in which they took Children’s Village to overtime before they ultimately lost. Watching that game, said Loeb, was another benefit for his team.

“They got to come in and root for the boys. We had a big discussion. I told them the court’s a little bit wider and you’re going to have seats all around,” Loeb said. “They got to view it before the game, which I think was beneficial. But coming here last year definitely helped our experience this year.”

Keio’s defense clamped down on Solomon Schechter throughout the afternoon and forced them to take bad shots. Sophomore Sae Toyomura, whom Loeb called “by far our best defender,” led the execution of the Unicorns’ game plan to pressure the opposing point guard, no matter who it was.

Keio prevented Solomon Schechter from getting into their sets and held them to just 16 points.

Toyomura, who averaged 10 points and 10 assists this season, has emerged as a leader for Keio and showed why on Tuesday. She earned plenty of praise from Loeb after the game.

“She’s the heart of the team. I couldn’t imagine us being here without her,” Loeb said. “The rest of the girls know it as well and they support her and they look for her, even though she’s a sophomore, as a leader. Even though she’s not a captain, they treat her as one.”

Keio is now one step closer to the Class C Championship. With Toyomura leading the way, the Unicorns hope to make regular appearances on the County Center floor.

“Hopefully we can make this a routine,” Loeb said. “The girls are enjoying it and I’m enjoying it. The hard work pays off and these girls put in tons of hours. I get no credit. It’s all them.”

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