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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 11, 2008

Blackbirds tame Tigers, preach team play

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– Coach Don Catellier didn’t know what to say about his Blackbird basketball team before it took the court against Cohoes on Friday night. He would have an answer after the game was over.

Catellier told The Enterprise that the Tigers are a “strong team” in the Colonial Council and the outcome of the game would show his team’s “true colors.”

Voorheesville played well on its home floor and beat Cohoes, 56 to 46.

“It was an exciting game and we ran the floor well,” said Catellier. “I needed my defense to stop Nick Benoit, a top player in the league. We got him in foul trouble and held him to nine points.”

The Blackbirds were led by the inside scoring of 6 foot, 5 inch junior Ethan Mackey, who netted 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Mackey took control in the first half, dropping consecutive lay-ups. He constantly had possession of the basketball.

“Mackey was a starter for us last year, so he knows what to do with the ball,” Catellier said. “Benoit got in foul trouble and they didn’t really have an answer for him. We put Mackey in a good position to get the ball and score.”

Seniors Nicholas Kinisky and Michael Snyder each added 11 points. “We’re more successful with a balance of scoring,” said Catellier. “We have more than one serious threat. I preach team play.”

Voorheesville was coming off a 51-to-37 victory at Cobleskill. Friday marked the first home game of the season for the Blackbirds.

Extra jolt

Cohoes jumped out to an 8 to 0 lead in the first quarter. Gary Nelson-Gill gave the Tigers a 13-to-4 lead with an uncontested lay in. Cohoes had a 13 to 6 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

The Blackbirds had no trouble getting to the basket. Shots just weren’t falling. This is when Mackey decided to take over.

Mackey got to the foul line on two consecutive possessions. The team came out strong in the second quarter and Cohoes’s lead was cut to three, 15 to 12.

Voorheesville came within one when a Mackey lay-up fell after a foul. The team kept feeding Mackey the ball and soon enough it had the lead, 18 to 17.

The first half came to an end on a missed Blackbird three by Mike Tesch. The Tigers had a one-point advantage, 19 to 18. Voorheesville outscored Cohoes, 12 to 6, in the second quarter, with almost all those points coming from Mackey.

Tesch started off the third quarter with a three-pointer. Kinisky then added a lay up and managed to get fouled in the process. The Blackbirds had a 25-to-21 lead. Tesch buried another three to solidify a 36-to-26 lead with about two minutes to go in the third stanza.

“We had an extra jolt of energy in the third quarter,” said Catellier. “We kept pushing the ball up and down the court and never really slowed the tempo.”

The Blackbirds got a nice jumper from the corner by Chris Castren and the team started to look to Snyder inside. Senior Nicholas Blow dropped in a three-pointer as the quarter came to a close. Voorheesville led, 42 to 29.

The Blackbirds seemed to have control of the momentum, but Cohoes would stage a comeback in the fourth quarter.

“We got a little lazy out there for a few minutes,” Catellier said. “But we regained our focus and finished strong down the stretch.”

Cohoes’s Mark Gallerie and Nelson-Gill sank two quick shots to make the game close at 46 to 43. Blow missed an open three, but redeemed himself on the next try. It was 49 to 43 Voorheesville with just under two minutes remaining in regulation.

The Blackbirds received a handful of foul shots in the final minute and sealed the victory, 56 to 46.

Looking forward

Voorheesville moved to 4-0 on the season with a home win over Lansingburgh on Tuesday. The final score was 57 to 56.

The Blackbirds held the lead for the whole game, but never pulled away. Tesch had the ball stolen in the final seconds and fouled a Lansingburgh player who was taking a three-pointer. The shooter could only make two out of three foul shots and the game was over.

“I’m glad that we held serve at home against the top two teams in the league this week,” said Catellier. “Playing these two teams will be tough on the road but we proved that we’ll be in the mix this year.”

Kinisky and Mackey are returning starters from the Class C sectional final team last season. Blow, Tesch, and Snyder round out the starting line-up. “All five of my starters saw plenty of action last year,” Catellier said. “They want to do big things.”

The team’s work ethic has never been in question, but the athleticism has increased. “We’re more of a run-and-gun team this time around,” said Catellier. “Getting up and down the court isn’t going to be a problem.”

The coach is more comfortable with letting the kids play than in the past.

“We work more on concepts than actual plays,” Catellier said. “Motion, cuts, and things like that. I like to teach them the game of basketball, instead of overloading their heads with specific plays. It’s been a long and successful process.”

Voorheesville’s next game is Dec. 19 at Mechanicville. The team has a long time to work on its game. The goal is to improve on last year.

“I have all my guys back for another run and any one of them can be our leading scorer,” said Catellier. “It’s strange because we don’t even talk about scoring. We talk about the team.”

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