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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 9, 2012

Untouched by others, Dutchmen struggle against Columbia and Bethlehem

GUILDERLAND –– The Dutchmen basketball team has handled its Suburban Council opposition quite well this season, but not when it comes to Columbia and Bethlehem. Those two teams seem to bring out the worst in the Dutch.

Guilderland opened the 2011-12 season on the road at Columbia and Bethlehem, losing both games, but then ran off nine straight wins. The Dutchmen had the Blue Devils and the Eagles at home on Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, but couldn’t find redemption.

Shots weren’t falling for the Dutch last Friday during the 50-to-41 loss against Bethlehem and the defense was lackadaisical at times. Head Coach Ron Osinski said that missed shots plagued Guilderland during its 67-to-60 loss against Columbia, too.

“I think losing to these two (opponents) at the beginning of the year made us better,” Osinski said on Friday. “We gained good confidence, but I think, in a way, every team gets into a funk, and we may be there now. It’s a long season. Many of these kids haven’t ever felt a stretch like this.”

It was the worst possible time for a funk. Columbia and Bethlehem took advantage.

“We’re just not making shots,” said senior Cameron Dobbs, who scored a game-high 20 points on Friday. “Easy shots not falling in and lay-ups being missed. It was a team effort in missing shots and losing this game.”

Dobbs told The Enterprise that the Dutch got into a great rhythm with scoring and rebounding over the nine-game winning streak, but now those things were starting to deteriorate. “I don’t really understand,” he said last Friday. “We may have built a little bit of an ego over the streak because we start to play lax when we get a lead. They (Bethlehem) had a lot of open shooters in the corners.”

Matt Cerutti, Alex Gaines, and Dobbs got Guilderland out to an 11-to-3 lead over Bethlehem, but a 13-to-5 run by the Eagles tied the game, 16 to 16, at the end of the first quarter. An awful second quarter followed for the Dutchmen; the team scored only two points.

“It’s disappointing,” junior Brian Crupi said. “We had a chance to get them at our place, but we couldn’t do it. We played hard, but couldn’t make shots. It hurts; it feels bad.”

Guilderland closed the gap in the third quarter with excellent offensive transition, getting to within two points, 33 to 31, after Cerutti made a steal and passed the ball to a sprinting Dobbs, who easily put in a lay-up. Earlier, a three-pointer from Cerutti looked to be rimming through the basket, but Taylor Dubose touched it on the rim and the shot was waved off.

The Dutch found more trouble with shooting in the fourth quarter, and a three-pointer from Shane Natale acted as a dagger, giving Bethlehem a 43-to-33 lead.

“It’s been a tough week,” said Cerutti, a sophomore who has exceeded expectations this season. “We wanted to come out better tonight, but we played a bad game. They (Bethlehem) did a good job of keeping the ball away from us, but we just have to make our shots.”

Osinski didn’t want to harp on his players for missing shots because many of them were contested by the Eagles’ defense. “I don’t want it to get into their heads,” he said. “Although, the second quarter was pretty bad –– just two points.”

The Eagles scored 77 points in the previous match-up, but came away with only 50 points on Friday. The Dutchmen went with some zone defense, giving Bethlehem trouble inside, but the team sank plenty of outside shots. Back when the teams last met, Osinski had said that he didn’t think Bethlehem stood much of a chance at losing this season.

“They’re a good team, so you can’t really shut them down,” said Osinski on Friday. “Basketball is a game of match-ups, and maybe we don’t match up well. They (Bethlehem) turned it over a few times, but we couldn’t make them pay.”

Guilderland didn’t do well with Bethlehem’s defensive traps, usually over dribbling, Osinski said. The Eagles are bigger than the Dutch in every position.

“It was mental lapses, like always,” Dobbs said. “For example, when our defense is in a lower position, the bottom man is supposed to come out and put a hand up. It’s miscommunication, but it can be fixed.”

If Guilderland was in a funk for Columbia and Bethlehem, then it was able to get out of it with a 60-to-34 win at Mohonasen on Tuesday night. The Suburban Council South is strong –– only three games separate Colonie (7-7), Mohonasen (8-6), Columbia (9-5), Guilderland (10-4), and Bethlehem (10-4). The Eagles lost at Colonie on Tuesday.

“It’s really competitive,” Dubose said. “I think we can beat Columbia and Bethlehem if we play well.”

But, whatever the reason, Guilderland has saved its best game for its other nine Suburban Council opponents. Maybe it is the match-ups?

“They (my players) were very upset after losing to Columbia,” Osinski said. “I don’t know where their heads are, but I can’t get mad because they’re playing hard. The shooting percentage just needs to get better.”

Dobbs said that the loss to Bethlehem was “water under the bridge.” Mohonasen has an overall record of 10-6, just like Columbia and Bethlehem. Guilderland is 12-4.

“We’re the best three teams in the league,” said Dobbs of Guilderland, Columbia, and Bethlehem. “Unfortunately, they’ve come out on top so far.”

By Jordan J. Michael

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