Guilderland accepts the challenge

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Laser focus: Andrew Platek shoots a free throw for Guilderland during its game at Albany Academy on Tuesday. Platek scored 13 points in the 25-point loss. The Dutch are the second seed from the Suburban Council for sectionals.

ALBANY — A man’s temperament — or a basketball team’s — can be truly judged when they’re up against crushing odds.

Guilderland, fresh off winning a repeat Suburban Council South title, suffered its worst loss of the season at Albany Academy on Tuesday. It was a time to reflect before heading into next week’s Class AA playoffs as the number-two seed.

“When things are going great, everybody is happy and nice, but, when things aren’t going well, what’s your character now?” Dutchmen Coach Mike Parks pondered after the 76-to-51 rout. “We just talked about that in the locker room. It’s a test, and that’s life. How do you react?”

Sports can teach people those kinds of life lessons.

“Hopefully, you react in a positive way, not negative,” said Parks. “So, we’ll see what happens at practice tomorrow. This is the first time we’ve been beat this bad.”

But, as a 16-3 team with a scoring differential of plus-324 points, Guilderland has spent the majority of this season on Cloud Nine. Albany Academy, an independent team that goes straight to the Federation Tournament of Champions, took the Dutch way out of its comfort zone on Tuesday.

“This is a demoralizing loss in a way,” said Guilderland’s Andrew Platek, who was held to 13 points; his average is 23.9. “We haven’t lost by 20 points yet this season…There’s a first time for everything. Tomorrow, we’ll have a talk with the guys, and get back on the same page to get ready [for sectionals].”

“Tonight’s score doesn’t really reflect us as a team,” added Michael Wine, referring to the Albany Academy game as a competitive scrimmage. “Going forward, we need to execute way better. We’re going to go hard in practice, and Coach knows what we need to work on to get better. We need to go a lot harder.”

Even though the game meant little in the grand scheme for either Guilderland or Academy, the first half had the aggressiveness and tempo of something of great importance. The packed crowd was rowdy as fans lined the baselines, overflowing out of the open doors.

“It was cool to see that many people care about high school basketball,” Platek said. “It’s a big deal to us. It was fun.”

However, Platek knew that the Dutchmen played poorly. He told The Enterprise that Guilderland players weren’t working together, and forgot to hit on some of the basic fundamentals. He was not knocking Academy, which played very well.

Deep breath: Guilderland’s Ralph Simeone drives on an Albany Academy player during Tuesday’s non-league game in Albany. The Cadets won, 76 to 51, and Simeone scored 16 points. The Dutchmen (16-3, 15-1) won a Suburban Council South title and will play Bishop Maginn next Tuesday in the first round of the Class AA playoffs. The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael


After Ralph Simeone made a three-pointer for the Dutchmen in the first quarter, the Cadets turned a 10-to-7 lead into a 15-point advantage in the second quarter. Albany Academy was draining shots and stealing the ball, but Guilderland was turning the ball over and heaving up shots from precarious positions.

Wine said that the Guilderland players started to become selfish with the ball. “When we go down, we need to keep fighting,” he said. “Usually, when we go down, we tend to not fight as hard. We just need to play our game the whole way through.”

Platek said he would take most of the blame for Tuesday; he’s a leader of the team. “It’s my job to keep these guys under control while taking good shots myself,” he said. “We could have done a lot better. It was bad.”

Some Albany Academy fans booed Guilderland when the Dutch came out for the second half. One patron shouted an insult at Platek from behind the basket.

“It was pretty intense,” Wine said, shrugging. “We didn’t get much out of this game.”

“Academy was tough; they’re a good team,” Parks said. “You find out more about your team by playing tough teams compared to scheduling an easy opponent and winning by 30.”

The Dutchmen had three non-league match-ups this season: against Troy, Christian Brothers Academy, and Albany Academy. Guilderland beat Troy by 12 points on the road, which Parks said was a “very good win,” and lost by eight points to CBA at home. The Brothers, the three-seed on the other side of the AA bracket, shot a whopping 88-percent in the second quarter.

“They haven’t done that to anyone else all year,” Parks said on Tuesday. “We ended up winning the second half and cutting it close — to two [points] with three minutes left — but our chance to tie on a fast-break lay-up was fumbled out of bounds.”

Guilderland might have had the most impressive non-league schedule in Section 2. Coach Parks has challenged his players by design, and that challenge was overwhelmingly accepted against Albany Academy.

“You have to see what you’re made of,” said Parks. “Sometimes, you get your butt kicked. Everybody gets their butt kicked. It won’t be the last time, and it wasn’t the first time. That’s part of the game, and it’s my job to have my guys ready to bounce back.”

Despite Tuesday’s outcome, Guilderland is still a Suburban Council South champion for the second consecutive year. Parks says that the Dutch can’t overreact to the 25-point loss; sectionals are around the corner.

Is Guilderland inspired or frustrated?

“We’ll find out; I don’t know,” Parks said. “Kids are resilient. They shake things off quicker than adults do.”

With hopes of returning to the Class AA finals, Platek said Tuesday night that he was concerned about his team. “We need to get this loss out of us and get back to normal.”

Michael Wine swoops through the lane for Guilderland against the defense of Albany Academy’s CJ Mulvey during the first half of Tuesday’s non-league game. The Dutchmen lost, 76 to 51. The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael    


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