BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — A pair of lopsided losses against a couple of Suburban Council heavyweights sent the Niskayuna girls basketball team into the holiday break looking to find some answers, and the Silver Warriors did just that, with blowout wins against Schenectady and Bishop Maginn.
Niskayuna topped Schenectady, 64-33, in a Dec. 27 meeting then scored a 57-22 win the next day against Bishop Maginn. The pair of nonleague wins evened up Niskayuna’s overall record at 4-4, and had the Silver Warriors feeling good as the 2014 portion of their season came to a close.
“This really boosts our confidence. We haven’t been .500 in a really long time,” forward Megan Black said after her team’s win against Bishop Maginn. “That’s super exciting for us.”
“We wanted to be four and four coming out of this weekend, and we are,” guard Kayla O’Brien said.
In both victories, the Silver Warriors had each of their 11 varsity players score, as head coach Sarah Neely’s squad was able to use a turnover-causing defense and solid ball movement to create ample scoring opportunities.
“The girls really stuck to our plan, defensively,” said Neely. “I’m a firm believer in that defense turns into offense, and because we played such a good defensive game, it converted.”
“We get fired up from our defense,” said guard Deirdre Schutzman. “We work really hard on defense.”
Against Bishop Maginn, the Silver Warriors’ full-court man-to-man defense helped to force the Golden Griffins into 23 turnovers, many of which resulted in fast-break opportunities for Niskayuna.
When the Silver Warriors were not running, the squad was able to work through its set offenses to produce a bunch of baskets. The club’s spacing improved throughout the winning weekend, and that led to better ball movement when Niskayuna’s offense had to slow it down.
“It was good because we got to settle it down and run our offenses,” said O’Brien, who led the club in scoring in both wins. “We got to work on some things we needed to work on.”
That was important, as the games coming up for the Silver Warriors are back in league play and will not be easy. The club plays host Tuesday, Jan. 6, to Averill Park before playing host Friday, Jan. 9, to undefeated Shenendehowa.
“We have a lot of hard games coming up,” said Schutzman. “But we can’t get discouraged with them. We have to plow through them, and then focus on the ones we can really contend in.”
“Our Suburban Council schedule is always tough,” said Neely. “We don’t get many breaks in the season, so to have a couple nonleagues [like Schenectady and Bishop Maginn] over this vacation really helps us.”
The road ahead could be a bumpy one, but the pair of wins Niskayuna got during its winter break has the club ready for the calendar’s turn to 2015.
“Now, we’re four and four, and exactly where we wanted to be,” O’Brien said.