Girls Basketball: Second season awaits Niskayuna girls

Niskayuna girls basketball's Megan Mausert lines up a shot during a Feb. 12 practice in Niskayuna. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)Niskayuna girls basketball's Megan Mausert lines up a shot during a Feb. 12 practice in Niskayuna. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — It’s all about taking advantage of the moment for the Niskayuna girls basketball team.

At times, the 2014-15 regular season was a rough one for Niskayuna. But, now, with the Section II Class AA playoffs at hand, the Silver Warriors have won two games in a row and are ready to make some noise this postseason.

“Our passing has been a lot better lately. We’ve been connecting better,” Niskayuna senior forward Noelle Hamilton said at a recent practice. “We’re putting it all together right now.”

The Silver Warriors (7-12) capped their regular season with 56-21 and 54-25 wins Feb. 10 and 13 against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Schenectady, respectively. Senior forward Kayla O’Brien led Niskayuna with 15 points against BH-BL, while junior guard Deirdre Schutzman had a team-high dozen against Schenectady, a game in which nine Silver Warriors scored.

While Niskayuna guaranteed itself a sub-.500 record for the regular season a few weeks ago, head coach Sarah Neely said the squad always planned to head to the sectionals, which start this upcoming week. The Silver Warriors were seeded No. 11 in the Class AA draw, and will play Feb. 26 at Colonie.

Niskayuna girls basketball's Deirdre Schutzman lines up a shot during a Feb. 12 practice in Niskayuna.Photo: Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter

Niskayuna girls basketball’s Deirdre Schutzman lines up a shot during a Feb. 12 practice in Niskayuna.
Photo: Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter

“My thought behind sectionals is to keep the girls in the gym playing basketball, improving their skills,” she said. “The way we look at it, it’s a new season and everyone starts over at a zero-zero record, and we have nothing to lose. No matter who we play, we have nothing to lose.”

A strong, positive attitude has been helpful for Niskayuna this season. Playing in the competitive Suburban Council, the Silver Warriors took their lumps in league action against squads such as Shaker and Shenendehowa — both state-ranked clubs throughout the regular season.

Junior forward Olivia Souky said the Silver Warriors never let their lopsided losses early in the season get to them. Instead, the club used some of its unpleasant results from the season’s first weeks as fuel.

“We got stronger over the season,” Souky said. She said the immediate goal for the Silver Warriors is to improve on last season’s finish.

“Last year, we won in the first round [of sectionals] and lost in the second,” she said. “So, I think our goal should be to win a second-round game.”

Niskayuna girls basketball's Noelle Hamilton, left, and Olivia Souky are shown during a Feb. 12 practice in Niskayuna.Photo: Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter

Niskayuna girls basketball’s Noelle Hamilton, left, and Olivia Souky are shown during a Feb. 12 practice in Niskayuna.
Photo: Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter

To do that, the Silver Warriors will likely need to upset at least one of the area’s top four teams: Albany, Bethlehem, Shaker, and Shenendehowa. Against those teams, Niskayuna has suffered a combined total of five double-digit losses this season. But Hamilton said her club is not worried about its lack of success against the section’s top teams during the regular season as it heads to the single-elimination postseason tournament.

“We know we may not win, but we’re going to sure as hell try,” she said. “We’re trying to get as far as we can.”

And, in the wacky world of the Section II hoops postseason, history has shown a positive attitude like that can go a long way for a club.

“You never know what can happen,” Neely said.

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.