The newly-crowned Watkins Glen girls basketball team received a hero’s welcome on Sunday night after the Senecas won their first-ever state title.

“It was amazing,” Watkins Glen head coach Alicia Learn said. “All the support, even when we got to Ovid (town 22 miles North of Watkins Glen) even Ovid fire trucks and even players from South Seneca were on the street cheering us as we got back.”

The Senecas’ fans had reason to celebrate, as Watkins Glen earned a 65-63 victory over Long Island’s Port Jefferson from Section VII in the Class C title game.

“The fans filled up the stands at the fieldhouse when we got back. You get goosebumps when you see all of the community out in honor of your hard work,” Learn said. “The girls were yelling out the window, people lined up, cars lined up, it was awesome.”

Before the parade and the screaming fans, Watkins Glen had its work cut out for it in the championship game, as the Senecas found themselves down 53-37 at the start of the fourth quarter against the Royals.

“I told them to not give up, we’ve been down before,” Learn told her team before the final period. “We have eight minutes left to leave it all out there, this is it.”

Watkins Glen heeded the fourth year coach’s words as it opened the quarter on an 14-3 run which cut the lead to five with 3:30 left on five points from Mariah Gonzalez, six points from Clara Chedzoy and an Amanda Pike three-pointer.

Pike went on to score seven of the next eight points for the Senecas, including two key free-throws to tie the game at 63 with 24.3 seconds left.

“She’s always a go-to player, she know what she needs to do and can do,” Learn said of Pike.

Watkins Glen forced a turnover on the Royals’ ensuing possession when Learn called a timeout with eight seconds left to advance the ball.

“I assumed Pike would be heavily guarded so I told Hannah Morse with three seconds left to attack the basket and make sure we had the last shot of the game,” said Learn. “I said overtime I’m ok with, it's four more minutes where we can pull ahead.”

The plan worked as Morse netted a baseline jumper that hit every part of the rim as time expired.

“It hung up there for a while, I was just saying ‘go in, go in’,” Learn said.

Emilia Bond led the Senecas with 14 points, Pike netted 10 points and Clara Chedzoy and Morse added nine points a piece.

With the season officially over, Learn can now reflect on her team’s place in history and direct the spotlight on her girls.

“I coach for the girls, I don’t like all the publicity to be honest, I love that the girls get it though,” said Learn. “I do this to watch how the girls grow and how they mature and I push them, sometimes to the breaking point, I just like to see how they grow into these young ladies.”