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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 21, 2010

Lady Dutch on the losing end of another hard-fought game

By Jordan J. Michael

BETHLEHEM –– The Guilderland girls’ basketball team isn’t winning games this season, but it’s certainly putting up a good fight.

The last-place Lady Dutch dropped to 1-8 in the Suburban Council and 2-9 overall after an intense 46-to-37 loss at Bethlehem on Friday night. Guilderland got within one point in the final minutes of the third quarter, but couldn’t ever grab a lead.

The downward spiral continued for Guilderland on Tuesday with a 46-to-33 defeat at Niskayuna. The team has failed to reach 40 points in six of its 12 games so far this year, including three in a row.

“It’s rough if your team doesn’t work, but my team works hard every night,” said Head Coach Frank Cacckello after Friday’s loss. “We played as hard as we could tonight and we lost another close one. These girls have a lot of character, but every game seems to get away from them.”

The Lady Dutch have had a handful of close losses this season. The team is averaging 47 points per game and giving up 48. “Everything is close,” Cacckello said.

Guilderland was toe-to-toe with Bethlehem in a physical match-up on Friday. The Eagles were only able to pull away for the win in the final minutes. “We always have the fight,” said senior Chelsea Weston. “It’s the turnovers that kill us.”

The Lady Dutch and the Eagles played in front of an abnormally quiet Friday night crowd. Bethlehem had an 11-to-9 lead at the end of the first quarter after Weston made a shot at the buzzer.

Weston scored another basket at the beginning of the second quarter to tie the game at 11, but key free throws put the Eagles up by five points. Elizabeth Tapler had a steal for Guilderland and found Erin Kelly, who was fouled and went to the line. Kelly made her two free throws to close the Bethlehem lead to 16 to 14, but she only made 6 of 12 on the night.

No cigar

This is where the theme to Friday’s game kicked in. Every time Guilderland got close, the Eagles would make a run to extend its lead. Kelly blocked Emily Kirby, but Kirby got her rebound to start the surge for Bethlehem.

The Eagles outscored Guilderland, 8 to 2, in the final minutes of the first half with quick transition baskets by Tracey Koch and Jaclyn Oskam. Koch finished the game with eight points and Oskam had 11, including 7 of 7 from the free-throw line. Bethlehem led at halftime, 24-16.

“We have to come out of the gate faster if we want to win games,” Weston said. “They had plenty of unanswered baskets tonight.”

The Lady Dutch tried to turn the tide in the second half and came out blazing in the third quarter. Melissa Winne scored and Katherine Keegan put up a three-pointer and the score was now 26 to 23. Again, Bethlehem answered and its lead was pushed to 30 to 23.

After a huge contact foul with Oskam, Winne sank a nice hook shot and the score was 30 to 25 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Guilderland got within one, 32-31, when Cristal Benton found Amanda Kernozek open under the basket for a quick lay-up.

However, the Eagles refused to let the Dutch grab a lead. Bethlehem finished the third quarter with a 36-to-31 lead after Oskam followed her own rebound and scored at the buzzer. Coach Cacckello was clearly upset after the play, raising his voice during the break.

“It’s about mistakes and we keep making the same ones,” said Cacckello, giving two examples –– forcing the ball into the post and handling trap situations. “You’re not supposed to grab the same hot pan twice, but that’s what we’ve been doing.”

More quick transitional play by the Eagles gave the team a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Dutch refused to quit. Keegan hit another three and Benton scored to cut the lead to 40 to 37, but that’s as close as Guilderland would come.

“We didn’t take care of our possessions down the stretch,” Cacckello said. “No good shots.”

Bethlehem made its foul shots to wrap up the contest and Guilderland was staring at another loss. It’s an interesting dynamic because the Dutch don’t play like a two-win team.

“They played us really tight,” said Oskam. “They definitely play like a team that should have more wins. They’re fighters.”

The Lady Dutch have set a goal to go .500 in the second half of the season and Cacckello thinks that is realistic. The team hosts Mohonasen on Friday night.

“We need to generate more points and keep fighting,” said Cacckello. “I know these girls won’t quit.”

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