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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 18, 2007

Bulldgos’ new addition crushes Cougars

By Tim Matteson

BERNE — With an emphatic yell, Mike Hopper announced his and his team’s presence.

The newcomer to the Berne-Knox-Westerlo boys’ basketball team made an inside basket and was fouled and knocked to the floor. He let go an exuberant yell and got up to his feet and knocked down the free throw.

It was a moment of triumph for Hopper who has been through much just to step on the court this season. The end result was a triumph for BKW as the Bulldogs beat WAC South Division power Canajoharie, 65-49, showing that they are going to be a team to reckon with for the rest of the season.

"This is a great win for the program," said BKW Coach Andy Wright. "This is my fourth season and I’ve never beaten them at the varsity level. They are the dominant team in our league. They’ve been in the top two and have been champions or co-champs four of the last five years."

The BKW win raised the ire of the Canajoharie fans at Friday’s game. At the end of the hard-fought, physical game some fans got in the face of Hopper and the other BKW players.

Order was restored without incident and the Bulldogs left for the locker room to celebrate a huge win.

"With a big turnout like that," Wright said, "the kids get up to play. To win in our house, you have to bring a good game with you."

Hopper up

It was Hopper’s third game in a BKW uniform and it wasn’t the first time he heard the other team’s complaints about his being on the court. And it won’t be the last.

Hopper was a senior at Voorheesville last year. He was a contributor to the team, not a star, but he did not graduate.

He moved into the BKW district to live with a legal guardian, and has been at BKW for the entire school year. But his eligibility was in question and the BKW school district went through the proper channels to get him to play.

Hopper only played one season on varsity at Voorheesville, but had to be cleared by the Section II committee. When he wasn’t cleared by Section II, BKW tried to clear him with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. After the NYSPHSAA cleared him, Hopper had to sit out four games, due to the state transfer rules.

But now he is eligible to play and he made a difference on Friday night. He scored 24 points to lead the Bulldogs. He also had nine rebounds, two blocks, and he put an exclamation point on the win with a two-handed dunk with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

"Turning point"

BKW trailed 27-24 at halftime, but came out with a lot of fire in the second half.

David Sikule tied the game with a three-point basket and Hopper scored inside and was fouled. He converted the shot to keep the score tied.

Canajoharie went up by three points, but BKW responded as Matt Lounsbury buried a jump shot and Sikule made a foul shot to tie the game.

Canajoharie got a jump shot to re-take the lead but Lousnbury made another jump shot to tie the game again. Lenny Coons gave the Bulldogs the lead with an inside basket and free throw after being fouled.

Hopper added a 15-foot jump shot and the Bulldogs were taking control. Josh Skinner’s inside basket gave the Bulldogs a 42-34 lead.

Lounsbury’s jump shot with three seconds left in the third quarter gave BKW a seven-point lead, 44-37, going into the fourth and final stanza.

BKW pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points in the final stanza and holding the Cougars to 12.

Lounsbury and Sikule each scored 14 points for the Bulldogs. Rich Geist had just five points, but grabbed some big rebounds and played tough defense.

Keith Shults scored 16 points to lead Canajoharie. Dan Herting scored 12 and Clinton Biltucci added eight.

"I think this is a turning point in the season," Wright said on Friday. "It gives us the confidence to play any team in the league. And we’ll have to come and play, when we go to Duanesburg and Schoharie. Those teams don’t lay down, especially at their place. They just don’t let anybody win."

The Bulldogs lost to Duanesburg on Tuesday night, 50-49.

Wright saw his team play a relatively clean game, with few turnovers.

"The kids kept it cool," Wright said. "They didn’t make a lot of mistakes and we didn’t have a lot of turnovers at any one time."

But the Bulldogs size was the difference in the Friday’s game, Wright said.

"We are much taller with Lenny Coons and Mike Hopper in there together," the coach said. "They had two forwards and three guards on the floor. And that one kid [Herting] fouling out was big. They were shooting the ball. I bet they shot 60 percent.

"But it’s hard to defend our size and strength," Wright added. "You have to commit to one of our big guys on defense and that opens everything up. Mike had 24 points and was four-for-four from the foul line. And another four of those points came on 15-foot jump shots."

Tuesday’s loss ended a three-game winning streak and dropped the Bulldogs to 7-6 overall and 4-3 in the WAC.

BKW plays at Schoharie on Friday and doesn’t play at home again until Jan. 30 when it takes on Schenectady Christian.

Coach gets icing with birthday win

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — Voorheesville boys’ basketball Coach Don Catellier got a pleasant surprise for his birthday. A win over a Colonial Council power.

The Blackbirds used a strong second half to overcome an eight-point halftime deficit, beating rival Albany Academy, 60-51, on Tuesday night.

"It was a nice birthday present," Catellier said. "I asked them to give me a tough 32 minutes and I’d be happy with them. That’s all I really wanted for my birthday. They gave me a win instead."

The Blackbirds outscored the Cadets 16-10 in the third quarter and 21-12 in the fourth frame to pull out the win.

Senior Greg Carson scored eight points in the quarter and got big baskets by Chris Thompson and Evan Christner.

The game was tied, 39-39, at the end of the third stanza.

Academy got an inside basket by Jamel Fields to open the final quarter. But Voorheesville responded with a close-range jump shot by Tim Robinson.

Robinson then scored inside to give the Birds the lead for good. Christner scored on a put back of an offensive rebound but Albany Academy got two points on a lay-up by Tyler Foster.

Voorheesville then went on a 6-0 run for the next minute and a half to build on its lead.

Justin Arico made a jump shot, Christner scored inside, and Robinson scored another inside bucket to make the score 51-43 with 3:17 left in the contest.

The Cadets got a floater in the lane by Jimmer Bennett but then went on another scoreless drought and the Blackbirds ripped off four more points. Arico scored inside after making a cut to the basket and Christner scored inside with a strong move.

Fields’s lay-up made the score, 55-45, with 1:26 left and the Cadets were forced to foul to stop the clock.

The Birds made five of seven free throw attempts down the stretch to put the game away and earn a big victory on their home court.

"Playing hard"

"We finally got a close one," Catellier said. "They outscored us 19-4 in the second quarter and we got them 16-10 in the third and 21-12 in the fourth. The second quarter killed us. When they went man-to-man [defense] on us, we killed them. We struggled with their zone. We got good looks we just didn’t knock them down.

"But the kids kept playing hard and held them to 22 points in the second half. Timmy Robinson scored six points in the fourth and Greg Carson has eight in the third. Our big guys were great in the second half.

"Nineteen of our 37 points in the second half were from our big guys," Catellier said. "And Kevin Klembczyk did a good job on defense. He held their leading scorer to eight points. He did a good job on the Foster kid."

Christner led the Blackbirds with 19 points in the game. Arico added 12 and Klembczyk chipped in with nine points.

Fields led the Cadets with 22 points. Bennett scored 11 and Shavar Fields and Foster each added eight points.

"I knew, as we matured, and gained more game experience," Catellier said, "that we would be a good team. We’ve had some close losses in the first half of the season. Hopefully, those will become wins in the second half. We just beat the third team in the league. We’ve beaten two of the top four teams in the Colonial Council."

The Blackbirds lost to Watervliet and Cohoes, the top two teams in the league by a combined total of two points. Voorheesville lost to Watervliet, the league front runner, 40-39, on Jan 5.

The Blackbirds beat Cobleskill-Richmondville, 61-49, on Friday.

"Hopefully, Watervliet will lose a couple of games and we can claw back into it," Catellier said of the league race. "But we are waiting for sectionals. We want to be great for sectionals. We’re working that way, and it’ll be here quick."

The Blackbirds are 5-4 in the league and 6-7 overall. They play at Lansingburgh on Friday and at Mechanicville the following Friday.

"I’m happy with the kids," Catellier said. "They had a high energy level and played with that for 32 minutes. They are working real hard and everybody contributed. That’s the great part about this win."

One streak continues, one ends for Dutch basketball

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland boys’ basketball team had a small winning streak snapped while the girls have continued to be strong at the mid-point of the season.

The Dutchmen had impressive wins over Bethlehem, 57-48, and Averill Park, 57-43, but lost on Tuesday night to Shaker, 63-47.

Guilderland led at the end of the first quarter, 16-14, but fell behind in the second quarter. The Dutch were victimized in a big fourth quarter by Shaker. The Blue Bison outscored the Dutch, 24-7, in the final stanza.

Mark Domaracki led the Dutch with 16 points. Drew Smith, back from an injury, scored 12, and Steve Doak added nine points for Guilderland.

The loss dropped the Dutch’s record to 5-4 in the Suburban Council and 8-5 overall.

Against Averill Park on Friday night, Guilderland broke a tie in the second quarter and then pulled away in the fourth frame to get the win.

Brett Marfurt led the Dutch with 22 points. Doak added 11, and Domaracki chipped in nine. Smith, in his first game back from a hand injury, scored eight points.

Last Tuesday, the Dutchmen beat a tough Bethlehem squad by using a strong defensive first half. The Dutch only gave up 12 points in the two frames and held on for the nine-point victory.

Marfurt scored 22 points and Domaracki scored 17 for the Dutchmen. Dan Gejay chipped in with seven.

The Dutchmen will play at Ballston Spa on Friday night in the second game of a doubleheader. The girls’ varsity team will play in the first game. The boys will tip-off at 7:30 p.m.

The Dutch will then get a week off and travel to Burnt Hills the following Friday.

Girls keep on winning

The Guilderland girls’ basketball team beat Shaker, 45-38, on Tuesday night. It was the Lady Dutch’s seventh win in a row.

Guilderland used solid defense to hold the Blue Bison under 40 points.

Kristin Pezze led the Dutch with 23 points. Nikki Branchini added seven points — all on foul shots — for Guilderland.

On Friday, the Lady Dutch beat Averill Park, 45-30.

Again, defense was the key for the Lady Dutch, holding Averill Park to 11 points in the first half.

Mary Kate O’Connell led Guilderland with 16 points. Pezze and Branchini each added 10 points.

Guilderland is 10-3 overall and 7-2 in the Suburban Council.

The Lady Dutch play at Ballston Spa in the first game of a doubleheader with the boys’ varsity team on Friday. Tip-off will be at 6 p.m. The Dutch then will host Burnt Hills on the following Friday.

Dutch say Goodknight to Saratoga’s streak

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland gymnastics team has gotten off to a strong start, including beating a team no one has beaten in a long time.

The Lady Dutch have dual meet wins over Shenendehowa and Saratoga heading into Thursday’s meet with Bethlehem. Saratoga has been the top team in Section II for the past few years.

"We’re undefeated so far, so you’ve got to like that," said Guilderland Coach Brenda Goodknight. "The wins state that we are not a team to be taken lightly.

"It was pretty nice to get the win against Saratoga," Goodknight added. "They have been undefeated for the last five years. It was a big win."

The meet was close and Goodknight wasn’t even sure that her team had won until the results were released at the end of the meet.

"We didn’t have a good day on the bars and beam," the coach said. "And we had some faults that counted against our score. I was as surprised as the girls. We had one of our better meets on the floor [exercise]. It was our highest scoring of the season."

The Dutch topped the Blue Streaks on Jan. 9 by a score of 167.9 to 166.35.

Dana Goodknight, the coach’s daughter, was the all-around winner with a score of 37.05. She won all the individual events as well. She won the vault, bars, beam, and the floor.

Goodknight is being recruited by some Division I schools but hasn’t made a college choice.

"She’s doing great," Brenda Goodknight said. "She is a consistent competitor."

Coach Goodknight also praised the performance of Toni Whitbeck this season, who is coming back from missing all of last season.

"All of last year, she was injured," Goodknight said. "She didn’t even try out. She is a diver in the fall and I got to coach her for the Guilderville team. It was a lot of fun. She’s in shape and has been consistent for us in three events. She doesn’t do the beam. She’s nice to have."

Goodknight also praised the work this season by Kristi Russell and Alexa Patnaude.

"They are doing a great job," Goodknight said. "Jen Diana is also doing a good job."

Goodknight is also getting points in meets from some seventh- and eighth-graders.

"They are coming in and scoring in different events," the coach said.

Catalena Diamante and Katie Govin have contributed as has eighth-grader Jasmine Day.

"It’s great to have depth like that," Goodknight said. "You need to have young kids to carry the program especially since we have a few seniors. We’ll definitely miss them."

"Exceptional athletes"

Goodknight said that most of the athletes on the team are dedicated to gymnastics year-round. Even if they play other sports.

"A lot of the kids are working out year-round," she said. "We have kids that play soccer in the fall, do gymnastics, and then do track or lacrosse in the spring. They are exceptional athletes, and, despite being busy, they are sticking with gymnastics. And that is helpful to any team and it doesn’t matter what sport it is, it makes a huge difference."

Goodknight is coaching a very dedicated group of gymnasts.

"This is a motivated bunch of kids," she said. "I don’t usually have to yell at anybody. Everyone is out there doing their part. I’m not pulling teeth trying to get them to learn new programs."

The team is split evenly this winter between high-school and middle-school students. There are nine of each on the squad.

"It’s been a while since it was really that even," Goodknight said. "The older kids are helping the younger kids. It’s a closer team. The parents are also starting to get more involved and that is helpful for me."

"Just me"

Goodknight can use all the help she can get. The assistant-coach position was cut from the school’s budget and Goodknight has been on her own for most of the season. The former head coach of the team is helping her, and so is a graduate.

"It’s just me," Goodknight said. "Mark McDonald comes down a couple of days a week to help out. He comes and volunteers and, with a team this large, I can’t say enough how helpful that is. And Krystal Myers, who was a senior last year and goes to college locally, helps out. It’s nice to have those guys."

The next step for Goodknight is keeping the Guilderland gymnasts focused after their pair of big wins.

"We still haven’t hit our peak," Goodknight said. "There are a lot of things we need to be working on and changes to be made. The girls see the big picture, rather than what they’ve done. And it’s really helpful for me, too."

This motivated group of kids has been easy for Goodknight to work with.

"If we miss conditioning," the coach said, "they let me know. They like conditioning. I’ve not had that before. These girls love it. And that is a difference between a team that is great to work with and one that is really good."

Goodknight knows that other teams will be gunning for Guilderland now that it has knocked off the mighty Saratoga team, but her team will be up for the challenge.

"This will spur them to work harder," Goodknight said. "Teams expect to lose to them. But now the girls want to win. They don’t want to wreck the season now.

"There is a lot of excitement," Goodknight said. "It’s good to be on top, but is hard to stay there. The kids understand that we have to clean up the weak spots before we meet them again. We have to be on our game next time they come here. Beating them once is great; beating them twice will be better."

Dutch turn up the intensity as end nears

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Dutchmen are steering into the stretch run of the season as the big tournaments loom on the horizon.

The Guilderland wrestling team is preparing for the Section II Class A and State Qualifier tournaments that are less then a month away.

"We have four weeks left until Class A’s," said Guilderland Coach Regan Johnson. "And the kids know that and have picked it up a bit. At the end, we try to increase the intensity and decrease practice time. Whether we go an hour-and-a-half or an hour, we’re not stopping."

The Class A meet is on Feb. 9 and 10 and the State Qualifier Tournament will Feb. 16 and 17 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

But, until then, the Dutchmen will have some tough matches coming their way.

"We’ve got Burnt Hills tomorrow night," Johnson said on Tuesday. "They are the Suburban Council Gold [division] leaders. We have Ballston Spa next week and the following week we have Shen, which is leading the Blue Division. There aren’t any nights off in the Suburban Council. But that just gets us ready for the end."

The Grappling Dutchmen returned from a weekend in Long Island where they faced some tough competition in a traditional stronghold for the sport.

"We had nine guys place," Johnson said. "They didn’t keep team scores. It was a long trip, and this year there was a new rule that you had to weigh-in two days. We had a weigh-in Saturday morning and a weigh-in on Sunday morning. With the second-day weigh-in, the kids had to watch what they eat.

"The first time they did that was this year," Johnson added. "You combine that with a five-hour bus ride and it’s mentally challenging."

"Good kids"

The Dutchmen had good results against teams and wrestlers that they don’t face at any other time of the year.

"There are good kids and we don’t see any of those teams," Johnson said. "Besides one other team, it’s all Long Island schools. It’s good to see that kind of competition that you don’t normally see."

Devan Van Auken was Guilderland’s best finisher at the tournament. The sophomore won the 275-pound weight class. It was a good feat considering that he replaced senior Kyle Hussey who is one of the best wrestlers in Section II in that weight class.

"He’s done excellent," Johnson said of Van Auken. "Hussey is out with mono and Devan has done more than just filled in. He’s done awesome.

"Right now, if he was wrestling at any other Suburban Council school, he’d be a starter," Johnson added. Kyle is the Class A champ and was third in Section II. It’s good for both. When Kyle comes back, he’ll have some competition."

Josh Sawyer finished second at the Long Island competition in the 160-pound weight class. Matt Cubillos was also second in the 119-pound class.

Travis Wolanski was fifth in the 96-pound weight class.

"He’s done very well," Johnson said. "He was at 103 up until the end of December. Now, he’s at 96 and has done great."

Robert Romeo finished fifth at 125 pounds. Bobby Dygert and Ian DeSol each also finished in the 130- and 140-pound weight classes respectively.

Tyler Qulia finished sixth in the 215-pound weight class.

"Turn up the intensity"

Johnson sees a lot of potential for a number of his wrestlers as the season heads into the final stretch.

"Josh Sawyer has been wrestling great," Johnson said. "He won at Queensbury, just after Christmas. And two weeks ago, he had a third-place finish. He lost 5-2 in a pretty good match. He’s looking good.

"Matt Cubillos has lost just two matches," Johnson added. "And both of those have been outside the section. Romeo and Dygert have had solid seasons. They’re near 20 wins."

Johnson said that Hussey will be ready to go for the big tournaments at the end of the season.

"He had a rough go of it this season," Johnson said. "He found out he had mono on a Friday and that Sunday his father passed away. He’s had bad luck during the wrestling season, the past two years. He sees the doctor this week and we’ll get him in as soon as we can. It’s been going on six weeks.

"He’s anxious and starting to feel better physically and mentally," Johnson added. "He’s looking forward to getting back on the mat."

Last year, Hussey missed the regular season with an injured knee, but came back to win the Class A meet.

The Dutch are looking forward to tougher times on the mat — in practice and during meets.

"We are starting to turn up the intensity," Johnson said. "And the kids have really responded. We lost to Saratoga last week, 41-30, but the match came down to two matches and we lost two close matches. The kids are excited for the end of the season."

Johnson grapples with challenges of new position

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — There are about to be changes in Regan Johnson’s world.

Johnson has worked for the Guilderland School District for 11 years as a physical education teacher. But now he has a new job title.

Johnson is the new assistant director of health, physical education, and interscholastic athletics at Guilderland. He replaces Larry Gillooly who became the athletic director at Niskayuna High School.

Johnson will be assisting Wayne Bertrand who has been the head of the health, physical education, and athletic departments at Guilderland since 2001.

"He is a perfect match for the position," said Bertrand. "He brings excitement to the physical education curriculum. He knows and understands the demands of scholastics and understands the community. It’s the best situation for everyone."

"I’m really excited," Johnson said on Tuesday. "I don’t officially start until Feb. 26, but I’m already doing a lot."

Johnson, who also coaches varsity wrestling, was approved for the new position by the Guilderland School Board at its meeting on Jan. 9.

It’s a change Johnson didn’t see happening until recently.

"Early in my career, I didn’t see doing anything different than what I’m doing now," he said. "But I wasn’t married then and I didn’t have three children at the time. Things change in your life. I did my master’s in administrative education and I got into it a little bit. I did that and I wanted to do something with that, but I didn’t know when, and I didn’t want to leave Guilderland.

"When Larry left," Johnson added, "that was the first time I really started thinking about it in a long time. I never expected Larry to leave. But it sure was an opportunity that I wanted to pursue."

Johnson will be making $70,000 in his new position, but the main reason he took the job was to spend more time with his family.

"I won’t be spending weekends in Long Island away from my kids," Johnson said.

Johnson and the Guilderland wrestling team took part in a weekend long tournament on Long Island this past weekend.

Johnson has been the varsity wrestling coach at Guilderland for several years and will give up that spot at the end of this season.

"When the end of the season comes," Johnson said, "that is when I’ll miss it most. I’ve been wrestling or coaching wrestling since I was eight years old — almost 30 years."

Johnson will turn 37 in March.

"Hit the ground running"

Johnson graduated from the State University of New York College at Brockport with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He also wrestled at the school and, when he graduated, served as an assistant coach for a year-and-a-half for the Division III power.

"I was not ready to get a job, a teaching job," Johnson said. "I stayed out there and coached. Then I came out here and student taught and I haven’t left."

Johnson was a traveler in the physical education department in his first year at Guilderland. He taught at Farnsworth Middle School, Westmere Elementary School, and the high school. In his second year, he became a permanent teacher at Farnsworth.

"I think the people in the PE department and the teachers in general are real professionals," Johnson said of Guilderland. "Working for someone like Wayne is obviously something that drove me to the job."

Johnson said he recruited Bertrand to apply for a position at Guilderland. And they have a relationship that goes back to when Johnson was in high school.

Johnson graduated from Ballston Spa and was a tremendous athlete at the school. He was a top-notch wrestler, coached by his father. He also played football and baseball. He was coached on the junior-varsity level by Bertrand.

"He was also the health teacher for me and my wife," Johnson said of Bertrand. "And his three brothers wrestled for my father."

"That’s a plus," Bertand said. "We don’t have to get to know each other. There’s no feeling out or honeymoon period. We’ll hit the ground running."

Changing roles

Johnson is looking forward to some of his new roles.

"I’ll be trying to get people the things they need, whether it’s for kids or teachers," he said. "Instead of teaching and coaching, I’ll be working with adults. I’ll be trying to get them the tools they need to be successful in our community. People in health and other departments are all excellent professionals. It makes it easy to work hard for people that are dedicated and want what’s best for kids."

But there will be things that he’ll miss, leaving teaching and coaching.

"Part of my job will be to be at wrestling matches," he said. "I’ll be around it; I’ll just not be in the practice room. But I’ll still be around wrestling and see the families and kids that I’ve been around for years. But I’ll miss the interaction with kids. That’ll be the one thing I’ll miss most."

But he’ll have more time to interact with his own kids — 4-year-old son Ronan, 3-year-old son Brody, and 5-month-old daughter Cameryn — along with his wife Linda.

"My wife is the toughest person I know," Johnson said. "She’s been great."

Johnson doesn’t really have any fears about his new position. He has slight hesitation.

"This is the first time in my professional career I’ve done something before I got comfortable. I’m going from something that I know I really love and enjoy, to something that I think that I’ll really love and enjoy."

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