Target is on Guilderland’s back
The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael
Turning the corner en route to the basket is Guilderland sophomore Andrew Platek, right, who scored a game-high 29 points last Saturday during the Dutch’s 81-to-70 home victory over Niskayuna. Platek made 10 of his 12 shots, including all four of his three-pointers, and Guilderland moved to 6-0 on the season.
GUILDERLAND — As the only undefeated basketball team in the Suburban Council, Guilderland expects to get the best effort from every opponent. The Dutch have been roughing up challengers this season — winning by an average of 13 points per game — but the team is trying not to get ahead of itself.
“We have a target on our back now,” said senior Vincent Simeone, who had 16 points and eight assists for Guilderland against Niskayuna last Saturday. “We have to step up and handle it like we have been.”
Guilderland beat Niskayuna, 81 to 70, at home, but Head Coach Ron Osinski wasn’t too pleased with the Dutch defense after the game. Guilderland seemed to lose some of its flair in the second half; Niskayuna got within four points at the end of the third quarter.
However, the Dutchmen ramped up its signature speed and astute passing to pull away in the fourth quarter. The climax came when Marc Du Moulin dunked the ball in transition to put Guilderland ahead by 13 points.
The Dutch hadn’t played a game in 16 days because of winter break. Sure, the team practiced, but senior Billy Floyd said that the Guilderland players could barely contain themselves.
“We wanted to play so bad, but I think we lost some of our rhythm,” said Floyd after Saturday’s game; he scored 13 points. “We expected to kill them [Niskayuna] but we got too heated, and weren’t really in game shape.”
The Silver Warriors hadn’t played in two weeks, either.
Guilderland drew Niskayuna’s “A” game, Osinski said, and he anticipates that the other Suburban Council teams will follow suit. “They hurt us inside, hurt us outside, and were able to kick the ball out to shooters, who made shots,” he said after Saturday’s win. “I don’t think any team has laid down against us, but, early in the season, we didn’t really know where we were.”
Guilderland (7-0) is ranked 21st in New York State in Class AA. The Dutch beat Ballston Spa, 65 to 51, on the road Tuesday night. Sophomore Andrew Platek scored 21 points.
“We thought we could do this from the beginning, but we’re taking this game by game,” Simeone said last Saturday. “We haven’t won anything yet.”
Osinski agreed with his starting point guard, saying, “It’s the nature of the beast. You have to weather the storm. Everyone will play their best against you, which should bring out the best in you.”
The Dutchmen came into last Saturday’s contest averaging 71.6 points per game, with Simeone, Platek, and Matt Cerutti each averaging 14.8 points or more per game. Guilderland had a 26-to-15 lead after the first quarter, and Platek, a sophomore, finished with a game-high 29 points, shooting 10 for 12 from the field, making all four of his three-pointers.
Guilderland’s starting five players — Simeone, Platek, Cerutti, Floyd, and Du Moulin — know how to share the ball properly. The Dutch’s quickness, passion, and vision is something to behold, and the team can go on scoring runs over a short period of time.
“Coach tells us to move the ball around, and we like to pass the ball around,” said Simeone. “Everyone gets open, gets a shot. We’re successful because we play as a team.”
Niskayuna edged close to Guilderland at the start of the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t long before the Dutchmen blew the game open.
“We feel like no one can beat us, but that can be good or bad,” Floyd said after Saturday’s game. “Today, we thought Nisky couldn’t touch us, but they played great. For us, everyone plays hard, and no one is selfish with the ball. We want [a sectional title] more than anything, so everyone is giving it their all.”
Guilderland has much to look forward to, but traveling the Suburban Council road to sectionals will be tough.
Osinski says, “A win is a win.” He thinks that Guilderland should never have losing in its repertoire.
“We may have lost some focus during our time away from the games, but we always need to be focused on the game ahead,” he said. “Whatever the scouting report is, however the team needs to execute…you should always feel like you can’t lose.”