Barb Shea held the ball for the final two seconds, and on the other side of the court, teammate Meg Goodwin was the first to come over to her coach, congratulate him and point to an unfurling homemade banner in the visitors’ stands.
It read: “500 — Way to Go Ken Strube.”
Shenendehowa’s 50-41 win over rival Colonie Friday night gave Strube his 500th career coaching victory. It also extended Shenendehowa’s winning streak to nine games and gave the Lady Plainsmen a two-game lead over the Garnet Raiders in the Suburban Council Blue Division.
With his players congratulating him, Strube turned to the crowd and slightly raised his fists. Following the postgame handshakes, Colonie athletic director Dave Foust presented the game ball to the Plainsmen coach, who was wearing one of his usual coaching outfits — dark pinstriped suit, neat white shirt, conservative tie and loafers.
“That, or the Argyle,” Shea said. “We always joke with him about his Argyle sweater that he always used to wear.”
Sartorial considerations aside, it was somewhat of an atypical Strube win because Shen didn’t use its vaunted full-court press much. If anything, Colonie pressed more often and with more success, twice forcing Shen to turn the ball over on inbounds attempts.
But characteristically, Shen used a strong defensive effort — half-court man-to-man, mainly — that has been a hallmark of Strube’s teams. It helped shut down Colonie’s offense, which committed 25 turnovers in the game, nine in the third quarter.
“We were doing great in man, so we stuck with that,” Goodwin said. “We’re great on defense that way.”
“I think it was the way it happened,” senior center Serita Holland said. “I don’t think it was planned out. I think we were just going with how the game was going and with what was working.”
It was also appropriate for Strube to reach his milestone at Colonie High, where he graduated in 1971 and began his coaching career as a volunteer JV assistant for the boys’ team.
“This is a special place,” Strube said. “For half of my life, this was my home, and then the second half of my life, it’s been Shenendehowa. They’re my second-favorite team — right now.”
Shea led all scorers with 14 points for Shenendehowa (9-1 overall, 7-1 Suburban Council). Holland and Carey Turner each scored 11 points for the Lady Plainsmen.
Tehersa Coles scored 11 points for Colonie (6-6, 5-3), which has lost four of its last five.
Shenendehowa led the entire game and had a 21-16 advantage at halftime. Once the second half began, the Lady Plainsmen opened up a 16-point lead by starting with a 12-1 run. During one stretch, Shen scored three straight fast-break layups, each coming off steals, with Shea throwing a behind-the-back pass to Kim Woodward in the lane for the third layup, making it 29-17.
The Raiders didn’t score their first field goal of the second half until Shay Madden sank a three-pointer just above the right corner off an inbound pass with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter.
Colonie would only get as close as 10 points the rest of the way.
“This is really special and really awesome to be a part of,” Shea said. “We’re really happy for him, but it helps us become a part of it, too. . . . It kind of makes us a special team to remember, too. This was the year that he got it.”
“He’s very instructive,” Goodwin said. “He’s a great all-around coach.”
“He’s a real nice guy and I like him a lot,” Holland said.
“It just hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Strube, who has been coaching for 29 years and whose teams have won four state titles. “Even reading some of the stories you guys wrote, I felt like I was reading about somebody else. . . . I just can’t say enough about the kids over the years that I’ve been fortunate enough to have coached, from the first team right straight through to this team.”
Shea 6-2-14, Goodwin 2-1-5, Holland 4-3-11, Woodward 3-0-6, Turner 3-5-11, Ray 0-2-2, Setter 1-0-2. Totals: 19-13-51.
Martocci 2-0-5, Madden 2-4-9, Kross 1-0-2, Deso 2-1-7, Coles 3-4-11, Carciobolo 2-0-4, Kipper 1-0-2. Totals: 13-9-40.
Shenendehowa 14 7 20 10 — 51
Colonie 8 8 10 14 — 40
Three-point goals: Martocci, Madden, Deso 2, Coles.
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