Site, semis, opponent all new for Lady Patriots

Schenectady High School hasn’t played Bethlehem this year, and the Lady Patriots have never seen the

Schenectady High School hasn’t played Bethlehem this year, and the Lady Patriots have never seen the floor at Hudson Valley Community College, at least not as participants in the deep part of the Section II Tournament.

Head coach Carol Lupo likes what she sees from her 19-3 team, though, as they head into a Class AA semifinal against 16-6 Bethlehem, the Suburban Council No. 2 seed, at 7:30 tonight.

Schenectady is pumped up coming off a convincing 53-39 victory over Niskayuna. Now, the Lady Patriots just have to figure out the Lady Eagles, and figure out the expansive space at HVCC.

“We’ll see if we can step up,” she said. “It’s a big challenge being in a very foreign arena. One of our big concerns is how we’ll shoot. It’s not like a regular high school gym where you’re in a comfort level. It’s a larger floor, it’s longer and wider, and it’s something we’ll have to make an adjustment to.”

Bethlehem favors a 2-3 zone on defense and has three good outside shooters, including Suburban Council player of the year Megan Olsen, complemented by a good post game.

One concern for the Lady Patriots will be ball security, since Bethlehem players are adept at getting their hands in passing lanes and can run off turnovers, as they did in a quarterfinal victory over Catholic Central.

“Bethlehem plays great defense,” Lupo said. “They’re all tall, lanky, long-armed kids who get a lot of tips inside. If you can’t pass it around on that zone, you’re going to be in trouble. Bethlehem will pick it off. They really hustle, defensively.”

Olsen is averaging 15.0 points per game, and Alex McCullough and Jaclyn Oksam also have good three-point range.

The Lady Eagles have had a pretty easy run through the tournament so far, with a 64-20 win over Queensbury and a 68-45 win over Catholic Central.

Schenectady appeared to take control early against Shaker in the first round, only to let the Lady Bison get back into it.

Lesson learned. The Lady Patriots made a similar early move against the Silver Warriors, and didn’t allow a comeback.

“I feel like we’re really healthy, and that Niskayuna game certainly gave us a lot of confidence in the way we can compete,” Lupo said. “Niskayuna beat us earlier in the season, and we took them very seriously. We expected the worst from them.”

Lupo is concerned about the dimensions of HVCC’s arena, and expects that it will be more difficult for the coaches to com­municate with the team while the game is in progress.

It’s not something you can simulate in practice, so they’ll prepare for it the best they can.

“It’s going to be a thrill to make it to the final four,” she said. “There are so many circumstances that can make or break you, and most of them are completely out of your control. The kids are going to have to take more responsibility for what they see out there without getting as many cues from us. My kids have never been this successful, and it’s hard to anticipate everything that can happen.”

In the other semifinal, Shenendehowa (16-4) will face Colonie (13-9) at 6. Shen won the only meeting between the two this season, 45-38.

Categories: High School Sports

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