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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 9, 2006

Guilderland girls’ basketball

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland girls’ basketball team put themselves in a hole that they couldn’t get all the way out of on Friday.

The Lady Dutch fell behind, 11-0, with 3:51 left in the first quarter against Suburban Council leader Shenendehowa and couldn’t catch up in a 47-41 loss.

"I called two time-outs in that quarter," said Guilderland Coach Frank Cacckello. "I called the time-outs so we could get back to what we practiced and go back to what we are capable of doing. And we did, and they got rattled fast and we didn’t get rattled."

Guilderland scored six straight points in the opening stanza to get back into the game before Shen’s Erin Gray made two foul shots to make the score 13-6 at the end of the first frame.

Kristin Pezze made two jump shots and Jessica Tice added another for Guilderland’s points in the quarter.

Again Shen built a lead, scoring the first five points in the second quarter, which made the score 18-6. But the Lady Dutch didn’t quit; they outscored the Lady Plainsmen, 11-4, for the rest of the quarter.

Pezze made two free throws and Tice made a jump shot to make the score 18-10 with 4:24 left in the frame.

After two free throws by Shen’s Barb Shea, Tice scored after grabbing a rebound, which made the score 20-12.

Rachel Rabbin hit a three-pointer with 1:06 left until halftime and Meghan Carroll made a lay-up to cut the lead to three points, 20-17.

Two foul shots by Gray with 22 seconds left made the halftime score 22-17, but the Lady Dutch had regained their confidence and had the momentum.

On the move

Guilderland carried that momentum into the second half and tied the score early in the third period.

Nicole Branchini scored on an inside basket and Mary Kate O’Connell made a free throw to make the score 22-20.

Then Pezze made a steal and drove the length of the court for a lay-up to tie the game with 6:31 left in the third stanza.

But Shen took the lead back on a short-range jump shot by Kristen Dessingue and then proceeded to outscore the Dutch, 8-1, over the next couple of minutes.

After Rabbin made a free throw, Gray made two foul shots for Shen.

The Plainsmen then got a big play from Sarah Watersdorf as she broke up a lay-up attempt by Rabbin after Rabbin made a steal and had a fast break.

Gray later scored an inside basket and Dessingue added back-to-back jump shots to make the score 32-23.

O’Connell ended the Lady Plainsmen’s run with an inside basket with two minutes to go in the third quarter.

The third quarter ended with the Lady Dutch down, 35-28.

Again, the Lady Dutch would not go down without a fight.

Rabbin hit a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter and the Dutch were down by just four points, 35-31.

Shea, however, scored on a drive to the basket to build Shen’s lead back to six points.

Guilderland got a basket on a strong drive to the hoop by Branchini and got a jump shot by Pezze to cut the lead to two points.

But Shen again answered as Kerri Revesz made a three-pointer with 4:32 left to make the score 40-35.

Dessingue then made both ends of a one-and-one opportunity at the foul line with 3:10 left.

Guilderland got three consecutive foul shots — one by Pezze and two by Branchini — to cut the lead to four points with under two minutes to play. But Shen put the game away on an inside basket and foul shot by Bre O’Dell.

Danielle Burns and Pezze made foul shots for the Lady Dutch, but that was countered by a foul shot by Shea and O’Dell.

Pezze was the only Guilderland player to reach double figures in scoring. She led all scorers with 16 points. Rabbin scored seven and Tice and Branchini each added six points.

Gray, who battled a shoulder injury and earlier in the week thought her season might be over, led the Plainsmen with 13 points. Dessingue added 11 and Shea scored seven.

Double fist

But it was a defensive change that put the Dutch back into the game. Cacckello switched to a two-three zone defense after the Dutch’s early struggles.

"We watched their zone offense," Cacckello said. "We did not have much luck with our man-to-man, so we went to the double fist. It shocked everyone and against the double fist, they struggled. We got everything out of that defense we wanted."

The defense took the Lady Plainsmen out of their offensive flow.

"They had a rhythm going into their offense," Cacckello said. "The other thing was, we got in foul trouble. They didn’t move much and it was more of a match-up zone."

Cackello was pleased that his players put up an excellent fight after falling behind early in the contest, especially on a night when three of his players were honored.

"It was Senior Night," Cacckello said. "And to play well for them was our number-one priority. Jen Keefe, Rachel Rabbin, and Jess Tice have meant so much to our program. We wanted to put on a good showing for them on Senior Night."

The loss drops the Lady Dutch to 9-7 overall and 7-5 in the Suburban Council. The Dutch played in the league tournament that started on Wednesday and hosted Bethlehem. Guilderland will wrap up the regular season with a trip to Saratoga on Feb. 14. Then the sectionals will follow and the Lady Dutch will be near the Suburban Council half of the Class AA draw.

The Lady Dutch seemed pleased with Friday night’s effort. They had been blown out by Shen earlier in the season.

"We faced a lot of adversity," Cacckello said. "The kids responded. We were in foul trouble and we switched defenses. We came back and hit shots and did a lot of good things. There definitely was a sectional atmosphere."

Guilderland cross-country ski team

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — Success has come in numbers for the Guilderland cross-country ski team this winter.

The squad has 38 members this season on the varsity and junior varsity team with 26 being brand new to the sports. The numbers haven’t translated to a lot of success on the course yet, but the future years look promising.

"We have not moved up like I hoped to," said Guilderland Coach Barb Newton. "The junior varsity has done a little bit better, but we are still struggling in varsity competition. But numberswise, we are very successful."

The Dutch have been helped by Jukka Kettunen, an exchange student from Finland.

"He is very competitive," Newton said. "He’s finished fifth or sixth in boys’ varsity. His technique is extremely efficient."

Kettunen is used to racing much longer distances than the varsity meets in Section II.

"He is used to doing 30 and 40 kilometers," Newton said. "He said that the 10K felt quite short."

The Dutch are led by tri-captains Aaron Bernstein, Clinton Smith, and Ryan Mercaitis. Bernstein is a senior and on the team for the third season. Smith and Mercaitis are juniors; each is in his second year on the team.

Though the captains are male, female skiiers far outnumber their male counterparts on the team.

"We need to recruit a few more guys," Newton said.

Courtney Davis, Hannah Rosen, and Katie Murdock have been bright spots for the girls’ team, Newton said.

Davis is a ninth-grader and is in year first year as a member of the team.

"She has done well on varsity," Newton said. "She could be our top skier by the end of the season. She is a downhill skier and she has made the transition well to cross-country mode."

Rosen is a sophomore and played varsity soccer for Newton in the fall.

"She has some good races," Newton said. "There is a promising outlook for her future."

Murdock, a junior, also played soccer for Newton.

"She has a high work rate," Newton said. "That makes up for what she lacks in skill. She is a hard worker."

Young team

Newton said that three-quarters of the team are underclassmen.

"We’ll only lose a handful of seniors," Newton said. "Hopefully we’ll improve and move up in the standings."

"I’m one of three or four senior guys," Bernstein said. "We have a lot of good juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. The seeds have been planted."

Newton said the team is so big this year because the students recruit among themselves.

"A lot of friends recruited friends," the coach said. "And they come out for the program. We also get the soccer players and downhill skiers that want to do a winter sport at the school."

"A lot of people downhill ski," Mercaitis said. "So they are inclined to join the ski team at school and sign up. It is fun to ski and fun to be outdoors."

The winter has been sparse with snow, but the Dutch have had only one meet canceled — last Friday — though skiing at practices has been rare. The team does a lot of fitness work and running during practices.

"They have kept a good frame of mind," Newton said. "They see how important it is for their fitness to improve. That will help them get better skiing times. They understand the importance of fitness.

"We lost our snow base," Newton added. "But we’ve done pretty good. Training every day on skis has been difficult. But the kids are starting to see improvement. They are getting the confidence to get to ski better."

"It’s been tough because of the lack of snow," Bernstein agreed. "This has been the warmest weather I can remember. We’ve done a lot of running instead of skiing."

Positive attitude

The captains have seen a good attitude with all the members of the team.

"Most people realize the situation," Bernstein said. "We work as hard as we can."

"What I like about this team is the attitude," Smith said. "It is very positive. The nice kind of weather is not what we want. It is fun running or doing track workouts; skiing is a lot more fun. But this is an ideal of team."

"What we lack," Smith said, "at northern schools, they get to train on snow. Substantially, they are better than we are. We are on snow only part of the time. They definitely have better technique and experience."

"The kids that sign up to ski," Mercaitis said, "come and work at it. They want to be good at it and they’re excited to be outdoors skiing."

As the season winds down, Newton has liked the improvements she has seen from her competitors.

"Overall it has been a successful season," Newton said. "A lot of people should return. This is a wonderful group to work with."

Finnish cross-country skier at Guilderland

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — Jukka Kettunen came from Finland to study in America and have new experiences.

He is also able to do some things he loved to do at home.

Kettunen is a member of the Guilderland High School cross-country ski team.

One of the new experiences for Kettunen is skiing with hardly any snow.

"I believe there is two feet in my hometown," Kettunen said. "It almost is never a problem. It’s also cold, too. It was minus-45 degrees Fahrenheit for five days last week. They had to cancel a couple of races."

The length of races has been different for Kettunen as well. He is used to skiing much longer races than the 10-kilometer races held in New York.

"I didn’t know what to expect," Kettunen said. "I thought the skiers would be as good as in Finland. I raced for fun with friends and not on a team in Finland. I wanted to join a team."

He has had to change his skiing style to fit with the shorter races, though it has been difficult.

"It is harder for myself," Kettunen said. "I do not do sprints too much. I do long distance. It is very hard to ski for a short period of time. It’s hard for me."

Kettunen has brought a lot to the Guilderland team.

"He certainly is great for looking at technique," said Aaron Bernstein, one of Guilderland’s captains. "He has great skiing form and its good to see what competitive cross-country skiing is all about. We learn a lot from him."

"He’s been a nice addition to the program," said Guilderland Coach Barb Newton. "He has a good chance at going to states."

Even with the mixture of old and new experiences, Kettunen said he is having a blast.

"I’m enjoying my time 100 percent," he said. "Nice guys over here."

Kettunen’s hometown has a population of just 20,000, which is smaller than the town of Guilderland.

"It’s nice but it’s too big," Kettunen said. "It’s a nice place to visit. The Capital Region here is as big as our Capital Region in Finland."

Kettunen said that there is also a big difference in schools.

"Schools over here are bigger than in Finland," he said. "My school had 450 students. We have more specialized schools. We have a sports school, art school, theater school, and also a regular high school."

Kettunen said he has adjusted to the larger school and, despite speaking English very well, it was still a bit of a barrier.

"It was the hardest thing at first," Kettunen said. "I’ve been here five-and-a-half months and it isn’t a problem anymore. For eight years, I’ve been studying English before I came here. All students in Finland learn English in the third grade."

Knowing English has made it easier for Kettunen to participate in a couple of his favorite American pastimes.

"I like to practice and then hang out with my friends," he said.

Berne-Knox-Westerlo girls’ basketball

By Tim Matteson

BERNE — The players on the Berne-Knox-Westerlo girls’ basketball team knew what was at stake on Tuesday night.

A win would put the Lady Bulldogs in third place in the Southern Division of the Western Athletic Conference; a loss would put them in fifth as the regular season came to a close.

The BKW players responded by playing a determined brand of basketball, in posting a 55-40 win.

"The game was for third place," said BKW Coach Tom Galvin. "Coming into this year, I knew Schenectady Christian and Schoharie would be the top two teams. But I thought we could be in the mix and be in the top three. We ended up sliding into the third spot. We worked for the last few games to do it.

"It’s a tribute to them," he said of his players. "They battled. I wouldn’t trade them for anybody."

The Lady Bulldogs led at the end of the first quarter, 13-8, and at halftime, 24-18.

BKW held a 36-26 lead after C.J. Vincent made a jump shot with 3:07 left in the third quarter.

But Middleburgh would not quit and made things interesting in the next couple of minutes.

The Knights got a jump shot from Ashley Farrell and an inside basket by Samantha Huxtable to cut the lead to six points with 1:52 left in the quarter.

Farrell was then fouled on a three-point shot and sank all three free throws to make the score 36-33 with 56 left in the frame.

But the Bulldogs scored the final five points in the quarter — in 15 seconds — to build back their lead.

Andrea VanDyke scored an inside basket and Christine Sikule made a three-point shot at the buzzer to make the score 41-33 at the end of the stanza.

"Momentum changer"

"Christine’s shot was huge," Galvin said. "Unfortunately girls can’t dunk but they can hit buzzer beaters and that got the crowd going. It broke Middleburgh’s spirit. We came running off the floor at the end of the quarter and they were walking off the floor. It was a momentum changer."

BKW dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring Middleburgh 14-7 in the frame and pulling away with the win.

"The kids believed," Galvin said. "They finally did it. It was a nice tribute to the seniors. They refused to lose. Third place is not glamourous but they came out and did it."

Sikule, a senior, scored 14 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs. Classmate Sarah Furman scored two points but contributed during her limited time on the floor.

Vincent also scored 14 points for the Bulldogs. VanDyke added 12 points and Brittany Krimsky scored seven. Every active player but one scored for BKW.

"Our team got better as the year has gone on," Galvin said. "We lost to them earlier by four points before Christmas. And we beat them by 15 tonight."

A lot of the improvement has been because of a tenacious defense. That defense put BKW in the game against the top three teams in the league — Schenectady Christian, Schoharie, and Fonda-Fultonville.

"Cara Swain was again our unsung hero," Galvin said. "She held their best player, Emily Karsch, to five points. And Andrea held their second leading scorer to two points. It was a great team effort. Eight of us are healthy and all eight have been great."

Galvin has liked the way his team has played late in the year after struggling for most of the season.

"We lost to Schenectady Christian by one, Fonda by six, and Schoharie by four," Galvin said. "We lost by a combined 11 points to the top three teams in the league. I would not want to play us right now. We are playing up to our potential."

The Bulldogs wrap up the regular season with a 6-12 overall record and a 6-8 league mark.

The Bulldogs will play in a Western Athletic Conference crossover game on Saturday at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Galvin said the Bulldogs will probably play Mayfield at 5 p.m. They will have a home crossover — win or lose on Saturday — at home on Tuesday. Then its on to the Class CC sectional tournament.

"The CC’s are loaded," Galvin said. "We’re playing well going into the CC’s. We are going in after a tough season to play for the title."

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