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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, January 14, 2010
Voorheesville back to winning ways after tough loss to Watervliet
By Jordan J. Michael
VOORHEESVILLE The Blackbird basketball team can’t afford to lose another league game if it wants to win a Colonial Council title this season.
Voorheesville’s only blemish so far this season, a 66-to-60 loss to Watervliet at home on Friday, put the team into a three-way tie for first place with Lansingburgh and Watervliet. On Tuesday, the Blackbirds responded with 66-to-50 bruising of Schalmont at home.
The game was similar to the first meeting between the Blackbirds and Sabres on opening night back on Dec. 1 at Schalmont. Voorheesville struggled early, only to pull away for a big win. On Tuesday, Voorheesville once again started slow against the Sabres, only to fly to a convincing victory.
“I think it took us a few minutes to get our confidence back after the tough loss,” said Head Coach Don Catellier. The Blackbirds were ranked number one in the state poll for Class C before Friday’s defeat.
On Friday, Watervliet and Voorheesville combined for 56 fouls and 63 free-throw attempts. Costly turnovers and shooting 21 of 34 from the foul line contributed to the beating.
“Watervliet brought the pressure and we couldn’t handle it,” Catellier said on Tuesday after the game against Schalmont. “We had a chance to get a lead in the league, but now we put ourselves in a dog fight.”
For the past couple of years, Voorheesville, Lansingburgh, and Watervliet have gone down to the wire to decide the Colonial Council championship. Catellier took over the Blackbirds six years ago and the team has never finished worse than third.
“This is probably one of the most competitive leagues around here and I guess we’ve been lucky,” said Catellier. “Our kids play basketball all year ’round and they’re really passionate about it. I think each new group wants to live up to the last.”
The Blackbirds of last year were solid, but the team was taken down early in sectionals by Lake George. Catellier has a better feeling about the team this season. “This group goes deeper and I feel like they’re more cohesive,” he said. “They make the extra pass and work extremely hard.”
On Tuesday against the Sabres, the extra pass was made, and 11 different Blackbird players scored. Senior center Ethan Mackey, Voorheesville’s leading scorer and fifth in Section II with 20.4 points per game, dropped 16 of his 24 points in the first half.
“All of our opponents flock to stop Mackey and it opens up shots for everyone else,” said senior Chris Castren, who scored nine on Tuesday. “We pack it down to him and, if he can’t get a good look, he’ll kick it out.”
Mackey will score most of the Blackbird points down low, but the team also had five threes from the guard position against the Sabres. Conor Cashin, Castren, Joe Keenan, and James Currier can all shoot the jumper.
“We have really great guard play, too,” said Catellier. “They didn’t do well on Friday. I had to challenge them tonight.”
Catellier told The Enterprise that the defense has been “lacking,” but he’ll stay with the man-to-man like always. “I’ll just move them and motivate them,” he said.
“We definitely need to pick it up on defense,” said Mike Noland. The score may have not been close on Tuesday, but Schalmont was uncontested at times. “We’ll just have to bust our asses during practice and be ready.”
Catellier said that the number-one state ranking didn’t really affect the team as much as the public thought it did. “OK, so the number-one rank is gone, but that’s fine because it was just a paper thing,” he said. “It’ll really mean something if we’re number one in the state at the end of the year.”
Voorheesville goes into the next two road games at Cobleskill and Cohoes with one idea in mind: A win.
“That one loss shook us up and now we have to bounce back and take control,” said Castren. “We definitely don’t want to lose again.”