Birds get the best of Dogs in neighbor battle

WATERVLIET — Two neighborhood rivals went across the county to determine which team would advance to the Class CC Section II semifinals.

The girls’ teams from Voorheesville and Berne-Knox-Westerlo battled in an intense, physical contest in the small old-school gym at Watervliet High School on Saturday night. The Lady Blackbirds escaped the battle with a 51-33 win over the Lady Bulldogs in front of a packed house.

Voorheesville came in as the sixth-seeded team in Class CC and BKW was seeded third.
"It was an intense, hard-played game," said Voorheesville Coach Robert Baron. "It was intensely played on both sides."

Baron’s Blackbirds advanced to the semifinals and faced Colonial Council rival Watervliet on Wednesday at Hudson Falls High School.
"It was a fun game," BKW Coach Tom Galvin said of Saturday’s contest. "It was physical and we knew that. Both teams knew what they could get away with. I like those kinds of games. I tell my kids all year to be physical, physical, physical. Voorheesville came at us quick and punched us in the face a bit. We adjusted and, at the end, it was a good game. I was unhappy it ballooned at the end. It was not a 51-33 game."
"At the sectional level, the intensity goes up," Baron said. "The kids play hard because they know it is one and done. No one on the team wants to lose, so we put our best effort forward."

Hot start

Voorheesville got off to a hot start and scored the first six points of the game.

Senior Brittany Vogel opened the scoring with four points and Heather Bates made two foul shots to give the Birds a 6-0 lead.

BKW got on the scoreboard with two foul shots from Anna Kusler.

Voorheesville added to the lead after Bates scored on a fast-break lay-up after a pass was stolen by Vogel. Then Bates made a free throw and Vogel scored on a fast-break lay-up after a steal by Casey Becerra and the Blackbirds led, 11-2, with 2:52 left in the opening frame.

The teams traded baskets with Kusler scoring inside for the Bulldogs and Sarah Goss scoring off a rebound for Voorheesville.

Elizabeth Madden scored inside for the Lady Blackbirds but that was answered by a three-pointer from BKW’s Amber Pitcher to make the score, 15-7, with 1:19 left in the first quarter.

Pitcher added two foul shots later in the period, but Voorheesville led, 15-9, at the end of the first stanza.

BKW could not get any closer in the rest of the first half, and trailed, 20-13, at the halftime intermission.

Kusler scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to cut Voorheesville’s lead to four points early in the second frame.

Then both teams went into a scoring funk as the ball and bodies were flying around the gym at Watervliet but the ball was not going into the basket for either team.

Kusler scored off an offensive rebound for BKW with 3:06 left until halftime.

Voorheesville finally scored again on a jump shot by Vogel with 1:39 left in the quarter. Goss then knocked down a jumper with 38 seconds left in the stanza and Vogel added a foul shot with 10 seconds left, and the Lady Blackbirds had a seven-point lead at halftime.

"Our best basketball"

Voorheesville led by eight points at the end of the third quarter, 34-26.

Jocelyn Mann opened the frame with an inside basket for BKW. After Bates hit a jump shot for Voorheesville, Katrina Yakel scored inside for BKW to make the score, 22-17, early in the frame.

Vogel scored inside for the Blackbirds and Yakel hit a short jump shot for the Lady Bulldogs.

Vogel added to the Voorheesville lead with a three-point bucket and Goss hit a jumper, and the Blackbirds led by 10 points, 29-19, with 4:16 left in the third quarter.

BKW would put together a small comeback. Lauren Ford scored on a drive to the basket with 3:28 left and Yakel scored after grabbing an offensive rebound with 2:42 left to cut the Voorheesville lead down to six points.

Ford made a foul shot and Yakel knocked down a close-range jump shot to cut the lead down to three points, 29-26, with 1:27 left in the third frame.

But Voorheesville finished the stanza strong.

Madden made two foul shots and Becerra hit a three-pointer and, all of a sudden, the Lady Blackbirds had an eight-point lead as the third quarter came to an end.

Kelly Glath then put the dagger in the Bulldogs early in the fourth quarter. She hit a three-pointer to give the Blackbirds an 11-point lead.

BKW came back with two foul shots from Pitcher and Ford knocked down a jump shot to cut the lead down to seven points, 37-30, with 6:24 left in the game.

Voorheesville got a jump shot but that was answered with a three-pointer from Pitcher with 4:50 left in the contest to make the score, 39-33.

The Lady Bulldogs would not get any closer.

Voorheesville closed the game with a 12-0 run to earn the victory and advance to the semifinals.

Kate Pendergast made two foul shots and scored inside to spark the run. Bates scored on a fast-break lay-up and Pendergast scored on a lay-up.

Becerra scored inside and Pendergast scored inside to round out the scoring and clinch the win for the Blackbirds.
"Our offense has been struggling," Galvin said. "They didn’t score for five or six minutes but we only scored a few. We gave them a 1-3-1 zone [defense] that slowed them down, but we did not have the firepower. We battled back, but, if we hit early, it’s a different game."
"I think we played our best basketball in the second half," Baron said. "Especially in the fourth quarter. We go nine deep and all nine kids played a lot of minutes. We had fresher legs and that allowed us to play our best basketball in the fourth quarter."

"We came together"

A very good season came to an end for BKW after Saturday’s loss. The Bulldogs finished the season with a 14-5 overall record and a 12-2 mark in the Western Athletic Conference, with the only losses to Schenectady Christian.

The Bulldogs will be losing six seniors.
"Kusler, Yakel, and Ford are the starters not coming back," Galvin said. "But I’ll miss all the seniors. From the stars, to the role players that played two minutes a game, we came together as a family. Most of the seniors have been with me for a couple of years. We have six juniors returning that saw some significant time during the stretch run"
"The junior varsity won their division," Galvin added. "And the modified teams lost one game combined. The kids are already bugging me about playing AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] a day after the season. They are ready for AAU and that is a good sign."

As for Voorheesville, there was more basketball to play this season. The Blackbirds battled league rival Watervliet for the third time on Wednesday in the Class CC semifinals.
"We played them in two close games," Baron said. "It was four points and three points the last two games. We lost to them by three on their court at the end of the season. We are looking forward to giving them another good battle."

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