Unselfish Mekeel turns opposing defenses inside-out

Chad Bowman likes the manner in which his Mekeel Christian Academy boys’ basketball team is piling u
Kevin Braye of Mekeel Christian Academy drives around Alex Lynch of Duanesburg during a game on Dec. 18.
Kevin Braye of Mekeel Christian Academy drives around Alex Lynch of Duanesburg during a game on Dec. 18.

Chad Bowman likes the manner in which his Mekeel Christian Academy boys’ basketball team is piling up all of those points.

“It’s not easy to game plan for us. It can’t be fun,” the veteran coach said. “Teams cannot focus on a guy or two because everyone is willing to share the ball.”

These Lions certainly are a giving group, all eight of them, and that’s consistently turned a good look into a better one, and resulted in 12 games in the 70s and 80s.

What they’ve learned in school they’re displaying out on the court, and it’s refreshing. Combined with their enhanced focus this season at the defensive end, it’s fun to watch.

“We’re not looking for any one guy,” Bowman said of his 15-1 Lions, who lead the Western Athletic Conference Southern Division. “Our leading scorer has been different almost every night. Everyone is doing their job, and taking the shots that are presented to them.”

Sophomore Deonte Holder leads Mekeel with a 16.5 scoring average, sophomore Carter Stewart (14.0) and seniors Scott Voelker (13.7) and Kevin Braye (13.3) are also in double figures, and junior Oscar Iteji (9.3) is just below. Each of the starters has had at least one 20-point outing, but none has reached 30.

Stewart netted a career-high 24 Saturday when the state’s No. 10-ranked Class B team posted a 69-62 non-league win against Johnstown. Holder had Mekeel’s high with 25 in a 79-37 December win against Duanesburg.

“Balanced scoring has been the key,” Bowman said. “It’s awesome to have five guys who are capable of scoring in double figures on any night.”

The Lions are creating quality looks with a drive-draw-dish attack, and with inside-outside ball movement.

As Mekeel’s inside presence, Iteji has been significant with his willingness to quickly return an interior pass back out, and his effectiveness in doing so.

Mekeel has had six double-digit scorers in a game twice, five once, and four on nine occasions. In six games, all eight Lions including freshman Dan McCarty and seniors Jeremy Howard and Anjelo Pauline scored.

“You can get a lot of things done when you’re not worried about getting points,” Bowman said.


Schenectady girls’ basketball coach Eugene Maye was looking beyond the win-loss total — they are 3-11 overall — when he gave his youthful team a thumbs-up for its improved play since the new year.

“The confidence is starting to build,” Maye said after Schenectady’s second-half rally fell short in a 54-40 loss to Ballston Spa last week. “Ever since we played Corcoran, it’s gone up. They realized they can play.”

With freshmen NaSeyah Dix, Mekhiya Holt, Alexis Maye and eighth-grader

Mikyla Mitchell in the mix, Schenectady in the second half has shown greater flashes of what it might be, yet has still been bothered by inconsistency. That’s not uncommon with such a young group. That is what they’ll keep working on.

“They do have drive,” Maye said.

Schenectady rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Corcoran 57-44 at Amsterdam’s Christmas tournament, and in mid-January topped Mohonasen 43-39. The Lady Patriots also beat Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 57-31 in mid-December.

“That’s good news,” Maye said. “Last year, we only won once.”

Seniors Cy’Anne Frazier, Ta’Sharif Carr, Jennifer Laven and Leah Egnaczyk anchor the team. Sophomores Yinelys Rosario Vazquez, Kaliya Hicks and Dameree Corina are part of the youth movement.

“We’re young, and sometimes we play young,” Maye said. “That’s going to happen. That’s going to get better.”


Ballston Spa senior midfielder Connor DeFilippis and Scotties coach Garry Preece were recognized for their fall achievements at the recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention in Baltimore.

DeFilippis was one of 56 boys, and one of six from New York, named to the NSCAA All-America team. Preece was selected the organization’s New York Coach of the Year after guiding the Scotties to a spot in the state title game and a 20-1-1 record.

DeFilippis scored on a free kick when Ballston Spa edged Cicero-North Syracuse 1-0 in a regional game, and his last goal of the season began the Scotties’ 4-2 comeback win against nationally-ranked Ithaca in the state semifinals. The Fordham-bound midfielder finished with 22 goals and seven assists.

Ballston Spa had never won a state tournament game before. The Scotties shared the Section II Class AA title with Shaker after the teams played to a scoreless tie, and advanced with a 5-3 penalty kick advantage which included a score by DeFilippis.

DeFilippis was named to the NSCAA All-East Region group with schoolmate Griffen MacWatters, Owen Fingar of Scotia-Glenville, Marika Contompasis of Niskayuna and Brittany LaPlant of Queensbury.


Zach Hilton moved to the top of Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s all-time boys’ basketball scoring list with a 23-point effort in Wednesday’s 61-51 Western Athletic Conference setback at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons. The junior forward boosted his varsity total to 1,072 points, and passed 2013 graduate Garrett Pitcher (1,062).

Fort Ann junior guard Tyler Mattison scored a school-record 53 points and went over the 1,000-point plateau in Wednesday’s 91-88 overtime Adirondack League win at Argyle. Mattison forced overtime with a buzzer-beating three-pointer, totaled 32 of his 53 in the second half and OT, and pulled down 29 rebounds. He upped his varsity points total to 1,022.

Watervliet senior Charles LaBelle and Maple Hill sophomore Bryan Kern earned their 100th wrestling wins last week in dual meets against Albany Academy and Rensselaer, respectively. Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George junior Gideon Jardine and Albany Academy freshman Trent Svingala picked up their 100th wins at the Eastern States Classic the weekend before last.


Schenectady senior Calvin Cleworth set his fifth school record with a 4:54.75 in the 500-meter freestyle Thursday in a Suburban Council swim meet with Shaker.

Cleworth previously set school records in the 200 free (1:47.04), 200 individual medley (1:56.82), 100 butterfly (52.88), and 100 breaststroke (1:03.86). Cleworth’s 200 IM and 100 fly marks came at the Section II championships last season, when the Division 1 first-team all-star placed second and third, respectively.

Fellow Division 1 all-star William Matz swam a 4:53.03 in the 500 free to edge Cleworth Thursday.


Saratoga Springs graduate Mikey McElroy became Oneonta’s 11th career 1,000-point scorer Saturday when he dropped 22 points on Fredonia in a 95-66 SUNYAC win.

The senior forward was 9-for-13 from the field and nailed all four of his three-point attempts. He reached the milestone on his final shot, a second-half three that boosted his career points total to 1,001 in his 65th game with the Red Dragons.

McElroy was named a Suburban Council first-team all-star as a Saratoga senior when he was the league’s second-leading scorer at 18.3 points per game. He is averaging 15.6 points this season with Oneonta.

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