By Jordan J. Michael
VOORHEESVILLE –– Voorheesville’s excellent shooting and precise passing in the first half led to a 23-point victory over Lansingburgh last Friday, but the Birds’ second-half play was lackluster. The Knights outscored the Blackbirds by two points in the second half.
Voorheesville girls’ basketball Head Coach Bob Baron thought that his team should have done a better job with closing out the game. Lansingburgh (0-8) is a winless team, but didn’t go down without a fight.
The Blackbirds (3-5) were outplayed in the third quarter.
“The third quarter is the quarter that we need to learn how to win,” Baron said after the 56-to-33 win at home. “Things got a little sloppy there, and the man-to-man defense didn’t help like it did in the first half. We gave up some good looks.”
Voorheesville came out with something to prove in the first quarter. Katina Wallace, Anna Norris, and Victoria Coluccio all made three-pointers, and Coluccio added a jumper. Anna Feller made a basket while getting fouled, and Wallace made another three. The Birds led, 17 to 3.
“We worked as a team better than any other game,” said Wallace, who made five three-pointers on the night. “We kind of lost it in the second half, but, overall, we played really well.”
The Birds sunk 10 three-pointers during the game, and put all types of different shots in the basket. Wallace said her stepfather, Eddie Salisbury, who used to play for Guilderland, taught her how to shoot during the summer before ninth grade. Wallace is now a junior.
“I couldn’t shoot worth anything, so he had to teach me,” said Wallace, who was automatic from behind the arch last Friday. “I guess I was feeling it, yeah. There are definitely some nights that I have a good flow going, but other nights I’m not on at all. I have to keep practicing.”
Baron told The Enterprise that Voorheesville pushed the basketball Friday better than in any other game this season. Shots kept dropping for the Birds in the second quarter, and the score was 33 to 8 at halftime.
“It always makes your team look better when you shoot well,” Baron said. “But, we didn’t put the right touches on the ball in the second half.”
Teams can have a tough time focusing when a game is already blown out of proportion by halftime. Lansingburgh could have layed down in the second half, but Baron was impressed with how the Knights hustled until the very end. He thought Lansingburgh played better than a winless team.
“You have to take care of the ball and put it where it belongs,” Baron said of finishing a game. “You need less turnovers and more touches on the ball. Also, you need better vision.”
Wallace said that Voorheesville is learning how to focus. “It’s hard,” she said. “We usually go into the game really hard, or slow, or finish well, or finish badly. Tonight, we came out hard, but finished not so good.”
Voorheesville hasn’t had a steady focus during any of its games this season, even when the contest was close, Baron said. The Blackbirds are trying to stay out of defensive traps, beat the press, avoid double teams, and push the ball. Extra touches on the ball takes time off of the clock.
“First of all, we have to break the press and stay away from the double team,” Baron said. “Instead of settling for the outside shot, we should make the extra pass and get the ball down low for a lay-up. Don’t hurry the shot; get the best shot that you can.
But, last Friday, the best shot for Voorheesville seemed to come from the outside range. Everyone was knocking shots down for the Birds. Does the team live or die by the outside shot?
“Probably a little too much at this point,” said Baron. “We need to feed the ball inside. They have to see that, and that’s the maturity we’re looking for.”
The Blackbirds are still looking for an identity.
“We shoot the ball from the outside a lot, and we like that,” Baron said. “But, we need more of an inside presence.”
Senior Anna Feller does well on the inside, but she didn’t get many looks last Friday. Senior Carla Planz showed her hustle by running in from the perimeter to grab a few offensive rebounds.
Although Baron took three timeouts down the stretch to try to convey his ideas to his players, the Birds haven’t grasped everything yet.
“You just keep drilling it in practice and during the games,” said Baron. “You explain over and over again, and show them some film. There’s always someone open when we push the ball like we do, but we have to find them.”
The Blackbirds shot and passed well against the Knights, but that lazy third quarter was bugging Baron after the game.
“The goal is to improve from one game to the next,” he said. “We need to avoid certain things in certain situations.”
Facing an undefeated Holy Names on the road on Tuesday, Voorheesville backpedaled, losing, 62 to 27. The Colonial Council is a robust league.
“We have the potential to beat any team,” Wallace said last Friday, “but we just have to find it.”