NISKAYUNA — The losses have piled up in recent weeks, and each one has stung.
None of them have left the Niskayuna boys’ basketball team overly discouraged, though, as the rebuilding program remains confident it’s still on the right track.
“It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says, it’s about understanding who we’ve been playing against,” Niskayuna head coach Ben Smith said after his team’s loss Tuesday at Schalmont. “It’s about the growth we’ve made, and now putting it back into our [Suburban] Council games and our own efforts. We have to wipe the slate clean and move forward, but that is hard.”
Things don’t get easier for Niskayuna, as the Silver Warriors host Schenectady at 7 p.m. Friday. But things also couldn’t get much tougher for Niskayuna than what it has been through in recent weeks.
After a promising start to the season in which the Silver Warriors won five of seven games, Niskayuna has lost its last six. Of those six losses, though, a pair came against top Class AA teams Bethlehem and Saratoga Springs, another came against Class A force Troy and the latest came against a Schalmont team ranked No. 2 in the state’s Class B poll.
“After each game, we’ve realized we’re playing top-ranked teams, but that just gets us ready for [Class AA] sectionals,” said Nick Benton, one of Niskayuna’s six juniors on its 11-deep team. “We just need to get our minds right and work hard. Our chemistry was a little off [against Schalmont], but we’ll get that back in practice.”
— Daily Gazette Sports (@dgazettesports) January 23, 2019
And this Niskayuna team has talent with players such as Benton, junior Sean St. Lucia and senior Richie Quinn. After a strong start to the campaign, though, the key for the Silver Warriors is being able to mentally reset after a rough stretch for a program trying to break through in the Suburban Council.
“That’s absolutely the toughest thing,” Smith said, “but they’re taking it in stride. They’re doing some good things, and I just want them to stay together as a team. That’s the hardest part.”
On the court, the Silver Warriors’ ability to play together led the way to their strong start.
“When everything is going right, we’re moving the ball and playing well,” Benton said. “When the chemistry is there for us, we’re playing well.”
“It’s all about moving the ball for us,” Smith said. “If we move the ball, we can be very good. When we get stuck hitting the floor with the ball, that’s when we struggle and they know that.”
— Daily Gazette Sports (@dgazettesports) January 24, 2019
After it plays Schenectady, Niskayuna has six more regular season games — and included are chances against Saratoga Springs and Shenendehowa to collect a signature win against a top Class AA contender.
“We just have to stay together and do better,” Smith said. “They’re young and they’re learning.”