Two contrasting styles will clash tonight when unbeatens Shenendehowa and Colonie meet in a key early-season Suburban Council showdown in Clifton Park.
The 3-0 Plainsmen are averaging almost 71 points per game, while the 3-0 Garnet Raiders produce just 46 ppg. Colonie’s defense has been stingier, however, holding its opponents to only 40 ppg.
“We’re both different teams with basically different styles,” said Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas. “They’re more deliberate, and they like the halfcourt game. We tend to stretch out a little and play more fullcourt. It will be interesting to see which style prevails. I don’t think lower scoring numbers means they won’t be effective. We probably get more possessions than they do.”
Matt Miner leads the Plainsmen’s high-scoring attack that features several accurate perimeter shooters. Miner is averaging 20.6 ppg and is connecting on 83.3 percent of his free throws, while Dan Lee (13.6 ppg) and Jose Reyes (11.6 ppg) are the other double-digit scorers. Reyes (92.9 percent) and Lee (85.7 percent) are also outstanding free-throw shooters, while Lee also knocks down three treys a game.
“Our guard play has been strong, thus far,” said Dzikas. “We’re a little green in the interior. We’re also getting to the line. The last couple of games, we’ve done a good job of getting to the line, and making sure we don’t go there for nothing. We’re not leaving any points out there. Against Albany Academy, we connected on 20 of 26 shots from the line, while against Ballston Spa, we were 31 of 37. You can get there all you want, but if you leave points at the line, it’s never a good thing.”
Dzikas thinks that his team’s overall strong shooting technique from the floor also helps the Plainsmen at the line.
“You don’t want to get into the kids’ heads. You want them to focus on each shot, but hopefully, we can continue to take the ball to the hoop, and be strong with the basketball,” he said. “I’ve been around coaching long enough to know that some guys are fantastic shooters from the floor, but when they go to the line, something happens to them. This year, our good shooters are getting to the line, and making their free throws.”
Colonie is winning despite putting up mediocre offensive numbers.
“We’ve got some wins under our belt, but we’re not scoring the ball, right now,” said Colonie coach Doug Kilmer. “We don’t have much experience. I’m working with only a couple of guys who are back from last year. That’s always a factor when you are trying to get guys used to varsity play. I think we’re leaving a lot of points out there, whether it’s missed free throws or some turnovers. It’s not like we’re shooting horribly.”
But Kilmer believes that Shenendehow’s high-scoring offense is a rarity in the SC this year.
“Our entire league is only average, in terms of scoring points, except for Shen. They can put up 65 or 70 points, while most of the teams in our league are putting up 50 or 55. They’ve got some really good scorers,” Kilmer said. “We must find Miner, and stick with him. Their whole group of perimter guys are tough. It’s a situation of picking your poison, but we’re hoping to contain Miner a little bit. He’s a good one-on-one player, and every guy on our team will have their turn trying to defend him.
“We have a lot of obstacles ahead of us,” Kilmer noted. “Unless we can keep them around 55 or 56 points, it will be hard for us to win, but we’re going to go after them. Until we play some better defense and start to score some points, we’re at a disadvantage, but I think we’ll be better once the season gets going.”
Mike Branche tops the Garnet Raiders in scoring at just under 15 ppg. Onome Okpodu adds 10 ppg, while both Frank Lombardi and Jordan Meeks contribute between seven and eight points a game.
“Branche has been around for a while for them. He’s a very effective player for them,” said Dzikas. “He’s better on the block and in the post. We’ll obviously need some of our guys to keep an eye on him, and try to body him up.”
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Categories: High School Sports