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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, February 25, 2010
Bulldogs not done yet
By Jordan J. Michael
LAKE LUZERNE The Berne-Knox-Westerlo boys’ basketball team went on a two-and-a-half hour round trip to save its season. The gas bill is a little easier to swallow after a win.
The Bulldogs didn’t even expect to be traveling way up north for a Class C play-in game at Hadley-Luzerne on Friday night. Head Coach Andy Wright had to cut his trip to Pennsylvania short in order to make it to the game.
“I thought we would be playing in the first round,” said Wright during his ride back home from Pennsylvania on Friday before the game. “We know nothing about our opponent, but my team has been practicing all week. We should be OK if we come to play.”
BKW did, in fact, come to play, but could have won by a larger margin if it weren’t so careless with the ball. The Bulldogs had upwards of 20 steals against the Eagles and won 46 to 38.
Senior Ryan LaBelle, who scored a game-high 22 points, told The Enterprise that the team has made a habit out of playing down to the level of its opponents this season. That’s a big reason why BKW is only 6-13 after Friday’s win.
“We let things get to our heads, but I don’t think we’re insecure,” said LaBelle. “It just takes us a significant amount of time to get into a swing.”
The Bulldogs play tougher competition in the Western Athletic Conference than Hadley-Luzerne plays in the Adirondack League and that was clear from the start on Friday night. It was mistakes by BKW that kept the Eagles in the game.
“You can’t argue against the athleticism of my team,” Wright said. The Bulldogs were running all over the Eagles for the entirety of the 32 minutes. “We just need to be more focused.”
Stealing a win
Devin Waite opened the game with a three-pointer and that gave Hadley-Luzerne its only lead of the game. LaBelle scored the first six points for BKW and he added a steal and a block during that sequence.
The Bulldogs opened an 11-to-5 lead after Jacob Tambasco hit a three and Nate Krimsky grabbed an offensive rebound, making a powerful move to the basket. But the Eagles scored three quick baskets to tie the game at 11 to 11 at the end of the first quarter.
Krimsky, LaBelle, and Curtis Clark came out menacing for BKW in the second quarter and pushed the lead to 19 to 11. Another three from the hands of Tambasco capped off the 11-to-0 run. The Bulldogs had an eight-point lead at halftime.
An earlier loss to Northville prevented BKW from hosting the Class C play-in game. The team members and their families and friends who made the drive felt that a neutral site would have been fitting for the situation.
“A site in between us would have been nice,” said LaBelle. “It’s not our decision to choose where the game is played.”
Josh Densmore gave Hadley-Luzerne some hope when he opened the third quarter with a three, and then stole the ball to get possession back. Densmore got fouled during his shot and made two free throws to close the BKW lead to three at 26 to 23.
With the Eagles close, the Bulldogs decided to spring into action. The team caused numerous turnovers and that led to a series of scores. During the stretch, Tambasco drained his third three-pointer of the night, finishing with 10 points.
BKW had another comfortable lead after the third quarter ended, 40-27.
The Bulldogs continued to rack up steals against Hadley in the fourth quarter, but it only amounted to six points in the final eight minutes. The Eagles made a valiant effort to claw back, to no avail.
Top-seed Maple Hill is waiting for BKW in the next round. The game was scheduled for Wednesday, but weather postponed it to tonight. The Bulldogs won’t have a chance if the team plays unfocused.
Even though the Bulldogs have made a handful of mistakes this season, it has also shown some signs of greatness against better opponents.
“We have the ability to rise to their level,” said Wright. BKW scrimmaged the Wildcats before the season started. “We’re an interesting team with some young guys rising up. I think we’ll be able to hang with them.”
“You can catch anybody on the wrong night,” LaBelle said. “That’s why you play the game.”
It was a season of struggles for the Bulldogs. Wright never raised the bar that high for 2010. The team might be a championship contender in a few years.