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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 13, 2011

Blackbirds lose close game to Ichabod Crane at home

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– After consecutive seasons near the top of the Colonial Council under Head Coach Don Catellier, the Blackbirds’ basketball team has come down to earth in 2011.

Voorheesville hoped to turn its season around with a home game against Colonial Council newcomer Ichabod Crane on Tuesday, but the Birds lost, 53 to 49, falling to 1-5 in league play and 1-7 overall.

This is unusual territory for a Blackbird team that is commonly combating other Colonial Council teams for a league title around this time of year.

“We just need a win,” said Catellier, who is looking for his 100th win with Voorheesville after six-and-a-half years of coaching. He’s 98-42 after Tuesday’s loss. The Birds’ only win this season was over Ravena on Dec. 21.

Senior Mike Noland, who scored 15 points to lead Voorheesville on Tuesday, told The Enterprise that the eight new players are “still trying to get used to the varsity level.” Besides Noland, senior Joe Keenan is the only other player to see considerable time from last season.

Dylan Best and Kyle Russell are the other two returning seniors. “This has been a great learning experience so far,” Noland said.

Bouncing ball

Voorheesville started Tuesday’s game by establishing itself in the post. Noland had a strong drive and freshman Logan Hotaling, who scored 12 points, fought for an offensive rebound and put in a shot. Noland started getting comfortable inside, and the Birds had a 10-to-7 lead.

“We want to get the ball inside because we’re successful when we can,” Catellier said. “Right now, our outside shooting isn’t working too well.”

Noland, Hotaling, and Russell Daly, who scored 11 points, including a few key jumpers towards the end of the game, are essential to the Blackbirds’ inside scoring, Catellier said. Daly and Noland were in foul trouble on Tuesday, which hurt the team a little.

“We need more of an outside game so it can complement what’s going on inside,” said Noland, suggesting the use of a shooting machine in practice. “We’ll work on jump shots as much as we can.”

The Riders tied the score at 12 to 12 after Joe Fay drove, making the shot while getting fouled. Fay scored 17 points.

 In the second quarter, the wheels fell off for Voorheesville.

Mitchell Niemeyer hit an open three-pointer to give Ichabod Crane a 17-to-12 lead, but the real problem for the Birds was turning the ball over. In one stretch, Voorheesville gave up the ball on five straight possessions. The Blackbirds didn’t have any points in the second quarter until Colin McVee made a few free throws with 1:53 left on the clock.

“We were turnover happy,” Catellier said. “That happens sometimes, but it happened at a bad time. I see it getting better though.”

Down by nine points at halftime, Voorheesville outscored the Riders, 17 to 9, in the third quarter to get right back into the game. Again, the Birds established the inside game, and Daly cleaned up the offensive glass to get his team within one point, 27 to 26.

However, Ichabod Crane would maintain a one-point lead throughout the third quarter with answers on the other end, including a three-pointer by Ricky Pallozzi, who scored a game-high 19 points. The Riders had a 34-to-31 lead at the end of the quarter after Fay made a last second jumper from the corner.

“This is a strong league and you can get beat anytime, anywhere,” said Riders’ Head Coach Will Ferguson. Ichabod Crane is in its first season in the Colonial Council after spending a number of years in the Patroon Conference. “This is more competitive than our old league; lots of man-to-man and press defense. A win here feels pretty good.”

In the fourth quarter, Daly made a jumper from the corner of the key to give the Blackbirds a lead at 35 to 34. But, the Riders padded its lead with two consecutive baskets by Pallozzi. A nice hook shot by Fay gave Ichabod a 44-to-38 lead with under three minutes left in regulation.

“We ran into a quality team,” said Catellier after the game, looking ahead to the Mechanicville game tonight. “They made a few more shots than we did.”

Daly hit another shot to get the Birds within four points, but the Riders pulled away again at the foul line, where it was 19 of 26 on the night. Keenan and Hotaling each hit a three-pointer in the final 25 seconds, but Ichabod quickly in bounded the ball and Tyler Zeh sealed the win with an open lay-up.

“What we showed in the second half is something we can build on,” Catellier said.

 “We’re not used to losing these many games,” said Noland. “I guess you can’t be perfect forever, but it’s better to be losing now instead of later during sectionals.”

If a win doesn’t come at Mechanicville tonight, then maybe it will at home against Berne-Knox-Westerlo on Saturday night when the Blackbirds host a tournament. The two other teams are New Hartford and Cornwall, with the winners playing Sunday.

“My players don’t like to lose, but I’m not seeing any bad attitudes yet,” said Catellier. “They’re working hard in practice and showing up on time. It’s just a bounce here and a bounce there until we can get over those foolish mistakes.”

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