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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 8, 2007

Blackbirds soar as end of season nears

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — The Voorheesville boys’ basketball team is picking up steam as it heads into the next phase of the season.

The Blackbirds have won four games in a row and seven of their last eight games.

"We got some real nice wins," said Voorheesville Coach Don Catellier. "We had a close one with Schalmont the first time we played them and the first time we lost a close one to Cohoes."

Voorheesville avenged those losses by beating Schalmont, 43-38, on Friday and then Cohoes, 52-43, on Tuesday.

"We’re playing real well right now," Catellier said. "I knew we’d be fine once we got some experience in our system. The kids are starting to get used to each other and are getting the plays."

The Blackbirds got 13 points each from Justin Arico and Evan Christner to lead the way against Schalmont on Friday. Joe Klembczyk scored eight points, as the Birds used a strong fourth quarter to get the victory.

"Joey Klembczyk at point guard is controlling the offense," Catellier said. "He’s done a nice job with the offense."

"The kids are getting their varsity experience," Catellier said. "The kids are coming together. Everybody is contributing. We’ve getting balanced scoring."

Big win

Tuesday night’s win might be the biggest win of the season so far for the Blackbirds.

"Last night was a good win," Catellier said on Wednesday. "It’s kind of a revenge win for us. It’s a good win on the road. The kids stepped up and played well."

The Blackbirds got a big game from Christner in the first half.

"Evan dominated," Catellier said. "He controlled the offensive and defensive boards and he shot seven for nine from the field. He scored 14 points in the first half. We did a good job against their big guys, and they have some of the better ones in the league. We shut them down completely."

Voorheesville held Bill Keeler to 10 points and Nick Benoit to just three foul shots.

"They scored a combined 41 points the first time we played them," Catellier said. "Timmy Robinson and Greg Carson played great defense on them."

In the second half, Arico took over the scoring for the Birds. He scored 13 of his 16 points in the half.

"Justin got open and hit some shots," Catellier said.

The wins will help the Blackbirds as they are building toward the sectionals. They beat two teams that are also in the same classification — Class B — and Cohoes is in second place in the Colonial Council.

"I think it is a big confidence builder," Catellier said. "We play Watervliet Friday night and that is another revenge game for us, too. They took our championship away from us. We were the defending league champs and they clinched the championship now. They are also a Class B school. We wanted to go in playing well."

Voorheesville lost to the Cannoneers by a narrow margin in their first meeting right after the Christmas break. It is just one of two losses the Blackbirds have suffered since the new year began.

"Watervliet is always the measuring stick," Catellier said. "We want to go in and play with them. If we play well with them, we can play well with anyone in the league and in Class B. They should be the top seed, I’d be surprised if they are not."

The Blackbirds hope to continue the stretch of good play as sectionals are right around the corner. Friday’s game at Watervliet will wrap up the regular season and the team is firing on all cylinders.

"We are right now," Catellier said. "It seems like anybody in the game for us does well. Hopefully, we can keep that going for another month."

Dutchmen on quest to find offense

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The shot glanced off the rim as the final seconds ticked on the clock. As the ball fell away so did the hopes of the Guilderland boys’ basketball team.

The Dutchmen lost their chance to send Friday’s game into overtime and keep the hope alive for a Suburban Council Gold Division championship and a spot in the tournament of champions at the league’s tournament. Also probably gone now is a good Section II Class AA playoff seeding.

The missed shot was not to blame for Guilderland’s 42-39 loss to Columbia. Nor should the shooter, Drew Smith, be blamed. The Dutch lost the game in the third quarter when they were outscored, 13-5.

"We can’t score," said Guilderland Coach Ron Osinski after the game. "We need to score 50 to 60 points a night. We’re taking bad shots and we’re not taking good shots."

What about the third quarter"

"It was tremendously bad," Osinski said. "Each shot was worse than the next. In the fourth, we relaxed and got back into it."

Fighting back

The Dutchmen outscored the Blue Devils, 16-12, in the final frame to claw their way back into the contest.

Guilderland had trailed, 30-23, at the end of the third quarter and 33-25 after a three-pointer by Travis Jones.

The Dutch came back with an inside basket by Steven Doak and a three-point basket by Brett Marfurt to cut the lead to three points, 33-30, with 4:38 to go in the contest.

After a foul shot by Columbia, Guilderland senior Mark Domaracki tipped in a missed shot to cut the lead to two points. A floater in the lane by Adama Diggs was again answered by Domaracki as he got in position and tipped in another missed shot.

Diggs again gave his team a four-point lead on a lay-up and built the lead to six by knocking down a pair of free throws.

Domaracki scored on a drive to the basket to give the Dutch a chance with 37 seconds left.

Guilderland was forced to foul and Jones made one of two attempts from the line as did Diggs to make the lead six points. 42-36.

Then Smith made a three-point shot with seven seconds left in the game. After a Guilderland timeout, the Columbia in-bounds pass was stolen by Doak, and the Dutch passed the ball around until Smith got open and took the final shot with one second left. The ball hit the rim and fell away and Columbia escaped going into an extra session with the Dutchmen.

"Our defense was tremendous," Osinski said. "We held a team to 42 points that scored 67 against Saratoga on Tuesday. In every game, we struggle for the first 31 minutes. Then we play and are not thinking about decisions; they just do the things. They are not looking for people. I’m not sure we’re playing together as a team. Not everybody knows what everybody is doing. They don’t see their cuts and moves. And that is an advantage for the defensive planning.


"The kids are frustrated," Osinski said referring to players who have been injured, or sick this season. He went on, "They’ve been waiting to get all together and then they don’t play well. We don’t have a lot of basketball left. And we’ll probably get a low seed."

Marfurt led the Dutchmen with 13 points. Smith and Domaracki each added 11 points, but Guilderland only had two other players score. Doak and Dan Gejay had two points each.

Diggs led the Blue Devils with 12 points and Jones added 11.

"We couldn’t get anything going," Domaracki said. "And, when we did, it was too late."

Osinski said that the Dutchmen aren’t doing in games, what they do in practices.

"We have game slippage," the coach said. "We don’t relay what we do in practice to the games. And no one is taking charge on the court.

"We have two co-captains but they are not vocal. We have three games left to right the ship. I don’t know if that is possible. It’s up to them to play to their capabilities. Everybody is trying to do too much themselves."

Osinski is not sure what he can do to get the players going for their final game — Tuesday against Bethlehem — and for the Suburban Council Tournament and then sectionals. The Dutchmen bounced back to beat the Eagles, 73-48, and with Ballston Spa’s upset of Columbia the Dutchmen and the Blue Devils are tied for the top spot in the Gold Division.

"We’re trying to get in a flow," Domaracki said. "It’s just a matter of time. Then we’ll be firing on all cylinders. It’s going to happen."

"We were in a hurry to score," Osinski said of Friday’s game. "We forced shots instead of having patience. There’s not any one person to blame. We shoot threes, and when we miss, the ball comes out to the foul line and they had two guys there to rebound."

But the losses aren’t due to a lack of effort. The Dutch come to play on the defensive end every game.

"We did a good job on Jones," Domaracki said. "We played good team defense."

"Defensively," Osinski said. "I give all the kids credit. They don’t die on defense."

Lady Dutch’s offensive explosion strikes Gold

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — With so much on the line and in front of a large crowd, the Guilderland girls’ basketball team struggled on offense for three quarters.

But a stout defense and an explosive fourth quarter gave the Lady Dutch the Gold they have been searching for.

The Lady Dutch beat Bethlehem, 41-29, on Tuesday night to clinch the Suburban Council’s Gold Division. The win also showed the plethora of younger kids in the stands celebrating Guilderland Basketball Club Night just how dynamic a program girls’ basketball teams are at Guilderland.

The win put Guilderland in the Suburban Council Tournament of Champions starting today (Thursday) at Averill Park. The Dutch will take on rival Shenendehowa at 6 p.m.

"We changed the offense and went to more of a down screen to get Mary Kate on the block," said Guilderland Coach Frank Cacckello. "It opened things up a little bit. We won the first four minutes of the quarter. We were on a 16-2 run, which surprised me. We played really relentless in the fourth quarter. They had their goals in mind."

One of those goals was to win the division and they accomplished that by winning nine of their last 10 league games. The only loss during that stretch was to Blue Division co-champion Shenendehowa. The Dutch moved from the Blue Division to the Gold with a smaller enrollment this year, switching spots with Colonie.

Guilderland also won 11 of 12 games overall and hadn’t lost, before last Tuesday, since Dec. 15 against Columbia.

"This was huge tonight," Cacckello said of Tuesday’s win. "Any time you have a chance to win something is nice. It was important to win it outright tonight."

But winning the title wasn’t easy.

"A lot of energy"

The game was tied, 19-19, at halftime and the Dutch were up, 26-24, at the end of the third quarter.

Then Guilderland turned up the offense.

Danielle Burns made two foul shots and then, after Tricia Loux stole a pass, Kristin Pezze made a jump shot to give the Lady Dutch a six-point lead, 30-24.

Bethlehem got two foul shots from Keirsten Swete to cut the lead to four points, but it would be the only points the Eagles would get until the game was decided.

Mary Kate O’Connell made an inside basket with 3:38 left in the contest. Loux made back-to-back baskets — the first a jump shot, the second inside — and the Dutch were cruising.

Guilderland was able to seal the win by making five of six free throws in the final minute-and-a-half. Pezze made four consecutive foul shots and Jen Madsen added one. Bethlehem’s only field goal of the quarter came on a three-point shot with 16 seconds left in the contest.

"We were able to find the open player," Cacckello said. "And we were giving them just one shot. We were rebounding the ball. They had no second chances and that was the difference. Then we were able to put the ball in the basket."

Pezze led the Dutch with 15 points. O’Connell added seven, Burns chipped in with five, and Branchini scored six points.

"We take up a lot of energy on defense," Pezze said. "We used some of that aggressiveness on offense. That will keep us going at the level we’re playing."

"A lot of goals"

"The seniors wanted to win the division," Cacckello said. "We talked about that when we fell behind and Columbia had that hot start. I said that we could do something special. They could look at the banner and the trophy and they can never take that away from you. This is coming from a Guilderland graduate who never won anything. That is a big thing."

Guilderland finished the regular season with a 14-4 overall record and a 11-3 record in the Suburban Council.

With the regular season over, the Dutch will focus on the Suburban Council Tournament and then the Section II Class AA tournament.

"We play the season, into three different seasons," Cacckello said. "The first season is the regular season, the second is the Suburban Council Tournament, and the third is sectionals. We’ve completed season one."

"We have a lot of goals for the team," Pezze added. She is looking to play at Ithaca College or to go to Siena College, where she won’t play basketball.

"We wanted to get 14 wins and win the division," she added. "The other is to win sectionals. We realized a couple of those goals."

With their stout defense and senior leaders — O’Connell, Pezze, Branchini, Loux, and Meghan Carroll — the Dutch could continue their success.

"You can’t beat senior leadership," Cacckello said. "We have players that know what to expect. But sometimes we have players that try to take over too much. We have one of the most unsung players in Tricia Loux. She made two crucial baskets. That’s what happens when we run our offense. It’s nice to have players with senior leadership."

That leadership shows in hotly-contested games.

"The kids never get that nervous feeling," Cacckello said. "They never get rattled. You can see it in the kids. It’s just another quarter and they definitely responded."

"Out of the spotlight"

The Dutch players responded after losing to Shen last week. They came back to beat Columbia, 49-42, in a game they needed to win to earn the Gold Division crown.

"We played with a lot of energy, losing against Shen," Pezze said. "We played our hearts out. With our season on the line, we didn’t want to lose another in a row."

The Dutch wanted to avenge a home loss to Columbia, which they had suffered earlier in the season.

"They beat us on our home court," Pezze said. "We wanted to do it to them."

Pezze said that her team might be slightly overlooked compared to rivals Colonie and Shen. But she doesn’t mind.

"I think we like being the underdogs," she said. "We’re out of the spotlight. We don’t get much press. We’re starting to get recognition for our defense and that’s good."

The Dutch have made themselves a successful team, but they need a little help as well.

"The way we are playing on defense, we’re taking that aggressiveness to our offense," Pezze said. "We’re playing well as a team. That will take us down the final stretch."

Dutch gymnasts flip over winning league crown

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — It has been a long time since Guilderland has been a competitive team in Section II gymnastics.

This year the Dutch were dominant.

The Lady Dutch went through the season unbeaten, winning all eight of their dual meets. The most recent victory was against the top team from the last five years, Saratoga.

"We went through the regular season undefeated," said Guilderland Coach Brenda Goodknight. "I guess that makes us league champs. The Saratoga meet was a close meet. The girls did great. It’s definitely always good to have them at home. We did awesome. A couple of girls pulled through for us. Kristi Russell had been working on a vault but she stood it up. She kept her feet on the ground. I was excited for her."

Guilderland edged out Saratoga, 169.975 to 169.1 at the meet that was held on Feb. 1.

"We are the Suburban Council champions," Goodknight said. "I’m not sure the last time Guilderland won the league. One of the girls mentioned that there is a banner at the school. It’s been some time."

The Dutch last won the Section II title in 1999 and will be considered the favorite at the Section II meet in a couple of weeks.

"Saratoga was unbeaten for the previous five years," Goodknight said. "And Shaker won sectionals one of those years. We’ve not won one in quite a while. We’re definitely due."

Goodknight won a title as a Guilderland student and hopes to lead the team to another as coach.

"I won one in 1979," she said. "It was the Suburban Council and I was a freshman on the team. There were a lot more teams back then. But now it is what it is."

The Lady Dutch were excited to get the wins over Saratoga this season and clinch the league crown.

"They were really excited," Goodknight said. "This is an interesting group of kids. They are modest. They were shocked the first time, and they were not sure they had won. They were equally as surprised this time. They just do what they do best and not worry. They want to win, but they keep it in perspective."

Dana leads

The Lady Dutch have been led all season by Dana Goodknight, the coach’s daughter.

She has been the all-around winner in all the meets this season and is unbeaten in all disciplines — vault, floor, uneven bars, and balance beam.

"I don’t know what I can say," Coach Goodknight said. "She’s unbeaten in the all-around. I can’t complain. It definitely shows the hard work she’s put in. She’s been doing gymnastics since she was five. That’s a long time and it’s definitely paid off for her. The schedule is difficult for her. She ran through six meets in two weeks with club and high school. It’s a tough schedule for any athlete in any sport."

The demanding schedule will benefit Dana Goodknight in the long run as she prepares to compete in collegiate gymnastics. Though she has yet to make a decision, she has been accepted to Eastern Michigan University and the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Goodknight is also looking at Southern Connecticut, the University of Rhode Island, Ball State, and Cornell.


Though Goodknight has led the Dutch this season, the depth of the team has also led to the success of the squad.

Five gymnasts have qualified for the all-around meet that takes place on Friday and is a precursor for the Section II meet on Feb. 15 at Shaker High School.

Jen Diana, Erika Pesta, Goodknight, Toni Whitbeck, and Alexa Patnaude will compete at the all-around on Friday. The rest of the team will compete at the junior-varsity championships the next day.

"A few of the girls missed qualifying for the all-around by less than a half a point," Brenda Goodknight said. "The rest of the team will compete at the J.V. Invitational instead."

Then it’s on to the sectional meet, where there is a team title but individuals move on to the state meet. Goodknight hopes that a number of her athletes do well and move on.

"I think we have a possibility of four or five qualifying," she said. "I’d be surprised if we had any more. It’s a lot of fun. The girls are working hard and learning. I’ll miss the three seniors. But the rest of the team can pick up the slack for me. This is a great bunch of kids.

"A lot of them are competing in their first varsity high school sport," Goodknight added. "It’s a big change for them. They’ve stepped up to the challenge. We do have a lot of potential on the team. They’ve had an incredible first year. They’ve done a lot of things and taken the year in stride."

Goodknight would like to see her gymnasts continue to succeed.

"I would absolutely love to win sectionals," the coach said. "I’m so pleased with the season so far. I can’t say it’s been bad at all. It would be great to win, but I want to get everybody to states."

Baker’s dozen to sectionals

By Tim Matteson

Thirteen members of the Guilderville swimming and diving team have qualified for the Section II meet this month.

The qualifiers include senior captains Dave Cerutti, Chris Schwartz, and Colin Masterson. Those three also have a chance at the Scholar/Athlete Award, which is given at sectionals, said Guilderville Coach Vaclav Sotola.

Other Guilderville swimmers who qualified for sectionals are seniors Ryan O’Rourke, Andrew Crowder, and Chris Diakiwski. Juniors going to sectionals are Vadim Yafayev, who has already qualified for the state meet in a couple of events; Michael Zemanek; Dan Lee; and Matt Goodness. Freshman Jonathan Wheeler and eighth-grader Michael Schaffer have also qualified for the sectionals.

This year, only one diver will be representing Guilderville at sectionals. Freshman Sean Molloy will do the honors.

Molloy has been on the varsity team for three seasons; he began diving as a seventh-grader. He has developed into a diver who not only made the finals, but will contend for the sectional championship, Sotola said.

"Together with stand-out swimmer Vadim Yafayev, who has already qualified for states in the 200 individual medley and the 100 freestyle," Sotola said, "Sean Molloy has an excellent chance at qualifying for the state championship."

The state meet will be held March 1 through 3 in Buffalo.

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