The Mechanicville and Cohoes girls’ basketball teams are almost mirror immages of each other.
Both have a nucleus of extremely experienced stars surrounded by solid role players. Each team is guard-oriented, and both squads prefer to play zone defense.
And, perhaps most importantly, both teams are clicking on all cylinders.
Mechanicville, 8-1 in the Colonial Council and 11-1 overall, has won nine straight games. The Red Raiders’ only loss was a 42-30 setback to defending league champion
Cohoes, also 8-1 in the league, is 11-2 overall. The Tigers are also on a nine-game winning streak. The last time they lost was a 54-27 pounding by the Red Raiders.
Tonight, first place will be on the line when the Red Raiders host the Tigers.
“I think both teams are very similar,” said Mechanicville coach Bob Murphy. “The kids know each other very well. It will be a good, hard-fought match. I know we both like to play up-tempo. They press a little, and so do we.”
Murphy didn’t want too talk much about the first time the two teams played. “We just had a good night,” he said.
But Cohoes coach Dan Hytko remembers the game well, and is hoping his team plays much better in the rematch.
“We really haven’t talked about the game that much, but it is certainly in the back of everyone’s minds,” said Hytko. “They did a very good job against us in that game. We got beat in that game, but it’s just one game. We didn’t play that badly, but we went cold shooting in the third quarter, and we just never were able to come back. The other thing about that game is that we were playing without [Andrea] Butler. I’m not trying to make excuses, but she is one of our key players, and it made a difference.”
Butler is the Tigers’ third-leading scorer, but as the point guard, she is the team’s floor general.
“Andrea is our unsung hero,” said Hytko. “She’s the point guard that makes things go.”
The other key players for
Cohoes are Courtney Galuski, who averages 14 points per game, and Katie Maloney, who is right behind at 13 ppg.
“We’ve been doing what we have to do to win,” said Hytko, whose team has won most of its games quite comfortably since the loss to Mechanicville.
“The girls are playing the best they possibly can, and when it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It’s just a matter of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s with us right now. The girls are all on track. Fortunately for us, we’ve won most of our games recently by quite a few points, but we did have a tough time with
Watervliet, when we won in double overtime. We also struggled against Holy Names Academy before we all of a sudden clicked in the second half.”
Hytko said it doesn’t matter to him how many points his team wins by.
“I know Mechanicville has won some close games, but they just find a way to win. What I’ve found in my coaching career is that you can lose a bunch of close games one year, and sometimes, you win a bunch of close ones the next year. It all usually works out. If you win by one or 21, it’s still a win.”
Hytko said role players like Meg Rividge and fourth-year center Meg Keeler are just as important as his top scorers.
“Both teams have that good mix of support players. I know they have Kelly Murphy and Lindsey McKeever, and they get most of the accolades, just like Galuski and Maloney do for us, but you need four wheels to drive a car. You can’t just do it with two. Both teams have experienced players, and they all know that you have to bring your ‘A’ game every night in this league.”
Mechanicville is led by Murphy at 16 ppg and McKeever at 13 ppg. Nicole Manupella and Shannon McBride average about seven points a game, while Kayla Baker has stepped up her performance in the post.
“Some of the close games we’ve had are draining,” Coach Murphy said. “We’ve had some nice wins, but we’ve also had some hard-fought, close games that could have gone either way. Cohoes is on quite a run lately, and they’ve been winning by substantial margins.
“I expect this game to be a lot closer than the last one. Both of our teams are very experienced and talented.”
Another girls’ headline game pits Johnstown (4-1, 6-5) at vastly improved Scotia-Glenville (4-2, 4-7) in the Foothills Council.
Christian Brothers Academy, 7-1 in the league and 11-1 overall, visits 4-4, 7-5 Schenectady in a key Big 10 boys’ game.
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