Bulldogs get electric victory over big rival

BERNE — In the five seasons Andy Wright has led the Berne-Knox-Westerlo boys’ basketball team, Schenectady Christian has been the benchmark program.

This year, the Bulldogs find themselves in the top spot along with the Falcons.

BKW beat Schenectady Christian, 61-56, on Saturday night on the Falcons’ home court at Scotia-Glenville High School.
"I’m in my fifth year," Wright said. "And they have been on top of the league in four out of five of them. They only lost to Canajoharie and lost to Duanesburg. They have lost to us twice. They have four losses and we have two of them. They don’t lose very often."

Schenectady Christian came into the game ranked second in the New York State Sportswriters Class C poll. The loss was just the second in the last 41 games for the Falcons, who also had a 33 regular-season winning streak.
"This is a win we needed as a program," Wright said. "This is a great win for this year’s Bulldogs. This gives us a chance to share a league title with them. We have to beat Canajoharie on Wednesday night. That would be huge for our program. It’s everything Coach [Brian] McCoy and myself having been building for."


The gym at Scotia-Gleville High School was packed Saturday night, with half of the people in the gym BKW supporters.
"It was electric out there," Wright said. "It was appropriate we were so close to GE. Half the gym was representing BKW. When they have a big crowd, my kids play as hard as they can. They came out and worked."

Wright said that his team benefited from the loose officiating that let the two teams lay it all out on the court.
"They let us play," he said. "It didn’t feel like a small-school game. It was like the Suburban Council or the Big 10. It was physical like the game is meant to be played at the varsity level. We were not stopping every 10 seconds for fouls. That helped us, because we have scrappy kids that stay fighting."

BKW trailed for most of the game until senior Matt Lounsbury hit a three-point shot to give the Bulldogs the lead with 6:22 left.

The fourth and final quarter saw seven lead changes. Lounsbury and David Sikule made three-pointers.

The Bulldogs went on a decisive 8-0 run that featured four foul shots by Sikule, a turn-around jump shot by Joe Conklin, and a lay-up by Ben Burton.

Conklin had a big game inside for the Bulldogs on Saturday night. He scored 24 points after being held scoreless when the teams first played — a 76-54 Bulldogs’ loss last month.
"Joey Conklin was a man playing with high school players," Wright said. "Whatever we needed, he did it for us that night. We didn’t do well in the first game, and they didn’t give him any respect. He went up against a guy that was in foul trouble and his replacement couldn’t defend him...Against Schoharie, he had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Joey had confidence. It allowed him to have a good game without trying to do too much."

"First love"

The Bulldogs have been shooting the ball with confidence all season.
"We lead the section in three pointers," Wright said. "Out of 92 teams. I’m excited about that. We are also in the top 10 in every other statistic. The kids are playing well. We have three top-20 three-point shooters. Josh Skinner, Sikule, and Lounsbury each have more than 30. And Ben Burton is capable of having that many."

BKW played Canajoharie on Wednesday to close out the regular season. The Bulldogs then play in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. They will take on a team from the Northern Division in a first-round game next week.

Wright was happy to see this group of players win a game of this magnitude. Wright has a special connection with his players this season.
"I’ve known all of them since they were little kids and I was umpiring their Little League game," Wright said. "Their fathers were coaches and managers of their teams. I’ve known them for a big portion of their lives. I’ve known Matt Lounsbury since he was 3 probably...
"This is a different group of kids," Wright added. "They don’t play other sports. Even David Sikule, who is excellent at golf, he’s a basketball player. That’s his first love. Lounsbury plays other sports, but his love is basketball. That’s what they love to do and I’m glad it’s basketball. I share that with them. They are special and I’m glad they have a chance to win a championship."

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