By Jordan J. Michael
ROTTERDAM –– The Berne-Knox-Westerlo girls’ basketball team let turnovers and a lack of rebounding get in the way of a win over unbeaten Maple Hill last Friday. The Bulldogs’ mistakes sealed its fate.
The marquis match-up at Mohonasen’s holiday tournament featured two undefeated Class C teams. One team had to leave with a loss, and it was BKW, 47 to 43.
With less than 1:30 left in regulation play, senior Liz Harvey lunged through the air to make a lay-up while being fouled, adding the free throw to get BKW within four points of the lead. On the Bulldogs’ next possession, Harvey again drove the lane, but was called for a charge. Harvey slammed her hand to the court in frustration and fouled out of the game.
The Wildcats were smaller in stature, but were able to out-rebound the Bulldogs. Defensively, Maple Hill was pesky, causing turnovers and stealing the ball.
“That’s what killed us,” BKW Head Coach Tom Galvin said of turnovers and rebounding. “On a normal night, we can make some mistakes and get away with it, but, tonight, we couldn’t because we were playing a very good team.”
Maple Hill missed its fair share of shots throughout the game, but the team’s quickness allowed for second chances. Sometimes, even third chances.
“We knew they were really good, but we’re good, too,” said Mary Salo, who scored 16 points for BKW. “We definitely got out-rebounded.”
The Bulldogs were up by seven points in the second quarter and ahead by six points in the third quarter. Harvey told The Enterprise that the best team did not win last Friday.
“I like our team, and I like our chances,” Galvin said. “We could have gotten blown out by Maple Hill, but we showed up and made it a close game.”
The contest had a playoff feel. Each team was trying to retain its undefeated record. It is possible that BKW and Maple Hill will meet again during Class C sectionals later in the year.
“It’s humbling, but we should have won the game,” Harvey said of losing to the Wildcats. She scored a game-high 18 points, inching even closer to BKW’s all-time record for points. “We need to work harder,” she said. “Our intensity needs to be 100-percent better.”
Anna Curtin and Anna Despart made back-to-back three pointers in the final few minutes of the third quarter to give Maple Hill a 36-to-35 lead. The Wildcats took a 13-to-0 run into the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs broke down. Maple Hill’s tough, tight defense wasn’t giving BKW any easy looks.
“We didn’t perform how we should have and they [Maple Hill] did in spot situations,” Galvin said. “That was our game to win.”
BKW used to play in Heatly’s holiday tournament in Green Island, but the competition wasn’t up to the Bulldogs’ par. Galvin signed up BKW for Mohonasen’s tournament in hopes of getting a better non-league challenge.
“Heatly just inflated our egos, but, here, it humbled us,” said Galvin. “There are teams out there that we have to battle with.”
Salo, by far, was the tallest player on the court last Friday. However, every time Maple Hill missed a shot, multiple Wildcats’ players were trying to disrupt her ability to rebound the ball. Still, Salo was able to get her share of rebounds, just not as many as BKW would have liked.
“It’s hard to box out two people at once,” said Salo after the game. “I was in that situation all of the time today, so, that was hard.”
Not having Harvey available for the last minute of the game hurt BKW’s chance at a comeback. Harvey averages 22.3 points per game, which is second in Section 2. The Bulldogs have only eight players on the roster.
“It’s hard,” senior Makayla McCormick said of not having Harvey on the floor. McCormick is BKW’s point guard and made an amazing lay-up in the first half. “But, at the same time, we’re a team,” she said. “Everyone contributes.”
Last season, BKW went 17-0 before losing the Western Athletic Conference title game to Duanesburg and getting upset by Hoosick Falls in the Class C quarterfinals. Harvey said that being undefeated adds extra pressure.
The Bulldogs are 5-1 heading into a game against Middleburgh on Friday.
“Everyone hates losing,” Harvey said, “but being undefeated is a lot of pressure to uphold. Now, we have a loss, so the pressure is off.”
BKW will try to fix the rebounding and turnover problems if it plays Maple Hill again.
“Everyone knows that they need to improve something, even if our roles are already filled,” Salo said. “We just have to work a little harder.”