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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 19, 2012

After a big first half BKW gets a “huge win”

BERNE –– As Friday’s game against Schoharie tightened up in the fourth quarter, Berne-Knox-Westerlo could look back on its brilliant start that set the tone. Without a 20-to-6 lead after the first quarter, the Bulldogs would have been in trouble and a season might have been lost.

The Indians, led by sharp-shooter T.J. Smith, who averages 25.3 points per game, slowly started to find its way back into the game after halftime. Smith started to turn it on in the fourth quarter, completing a three-point play to tie the game at 46 to 46 with five minutes to go in regulation play.

This was the Bulldogs’ cue. Either suffer another tough loss or pull out an important win. BKW would only accept the latter, finishing on a 12-to-5 run and a 58-to-51 victory.

It was the third straight win for the Bulldogs, a team that has found its niche after starting the season 2-4.

“We had to win this game,” Head Coach Andy Wright said after Friday’s proceedings. “My players proved that, if their backs are against the wall, and it’s do or die, they can stay alive for another night.”

Smith, the fourth leading scorer in Section II, had 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, including four makes from beyond the three-point arc. However, Schoharie never had a lead, and, after Smith tied it up, BKW’s Mike Gamble (20 points), Nate Krimsky (16 points, 14 rebounds), and Garrett Pitcher (15 points) secured the much-needed win.

Gamble, who made a nifty shot off the glass in the final minutes, told The Enterprise that his team’s defense paved the way for the offense. “It was defense, defense, defense, and stopping Smith,” he said. “We pulled through with the defense and kept up the pressure. This is a huge win.”

Also in the closing minutes, Krimsky made two meaningful shots through the lane, one coming after Tyler Sigond kept the possession alive by diving into his own bench. Pitcher made a jumper and both Krimsky and Pitcher made key free throws.

“It’s a confidence booster, that’s it,” Krimsky said. “It builds momentum towards our ultimate goal.”

Krimsky said that the Bulldogs had already struggled in big games coming out of the gate, but that wasn’t the case on Friday. “Most of our quality wins needed good starts,” he said.

Schoharie Head Coach Shane Barton was livid after the first quarter. In the midst of trying to motivate his players, Barton referred to BKW as a team that “sucked.” 

The Indians responded and the game got close, but Pitcher defended his team after the contest. “I guess we proved their coach wrong,” he said. “We proved ourselves, too.”

Upon hearing Barton’s thoughts, Wright wasn’t surprised. He, too, has been known to question the ability of the other team, especially when it’s a rival. “We as coaches use all types of motivating factors to get our kids going,” he said.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-to-0 lead in the first quarter, helped by Pitcher’s two three-pointers, stingy defense, and a few mistakes by Schoharie. BKW’s excellent first half was capped off by Gamble, who stole the ball before making a lay-up while being fouled. The Bulldogs had an eight-point lead at halftime.

“Bottom line, when push comes to shove, and you come into Bulldog country,” Wright said, “you better be ready to play.”

Krimsky, Pitcher, and Gamble might be the most dangerous scoring combination in the Western Athletic Conference. Each player shares the ball and can hit shots from anywhere on the court. Point guard Tristan Wilson said that good things usually happen when the ball is in their hands.

“I know they’ll do something with the ball if I pass it to them,” said Wilson of Gamble, Pitcher, and Krimsky. “When we’re passing well, it’s hard to stop us.”

“My shot was feeling on,” Gamble said on Friday. “I had the team behind my back and we were moving the ball inside and outside. That’s what we need to do.”

BKW was making the extra pass against Schoharie and playing within itself.

“We’re starting to click more, recognize each others abilities more,” said Pitcher. “It all starts with the defense because everything opens up if we’re playing better defense.”

Wright said that the Bulldogs and Indians “always” have close games; some have gone into overtime. It was another close finish on Friday, but Wilson said that his team tried to stay calm after Schoharie tied it up.

“When you panic, that’s when you lose it all,” Wilson said. “You just have to keep playing.”

BKW didn’t keep its momentum in a tournament at Voorheesville over the weekend, losing both its games –– to Voorheesville (63 to 57) and to Green Tech (67 to 47). The Bulldogs (3-2, 5-6) host Sharon Springs (3-1, 8-1) in another ultimate test this Friday.

With the talent the Bulldogs have, the team should own a better record, but the schedule hasn’t been easy.

“We’ll finish strong,” Pitcher said. “We have to know what to go to, and when.”

— By Jordan J. Michael

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