Schalmont freshmen deliver knockout punch

Burchhardt, Graber take turns leading
Schalmont freshman Haley Burchhardt drives to the basket Tuesday night against Lansingburgh.
Schalmont freshman Haley Burchhardt drives to the basket Tuesday night against Lansingburgh.

ROTTERDAM — Payton Graber was doing some good things on the basketball court Tuesday night, but scoring points wasn’t among them.

“When you see any of your teammates struggle, you’ve got to step up,” Haley Burchhardt said after Schalmont defeated Lansingburgh 49-28 in a Colonial Council girls’ game. “And not only that, you’ve got to pick your teammate up.”

Burchhardt performed both of those tasks, scoring clutch points and urging Graber to do the same afterward as the Sabres’ freshmen backcourt propelled their team to another win.

Burchhardt scored nine of her 17 points in the third quarter when Schalmont extended a 20-15 lead to 36-21. Graber’s nine fourth-quarter points served as the knockout blow, and she finished with 11 to reach double digits for the 18th time in 19 games.

“I don’t care how many points I have. I just want to win the game,” Graber said after Schalmont won its second in a row and completed a two-game league sweep of the Knights. “When there’s a girl in my face, I do what I can to help my team.”

The freshmen tandem helped Schalmont (8-7, 9-10) move a game over .500 in the league with their most recent efforts, and helped put the Sabres in position to reach the sectionals with an even slate. Schalmont completes its regular season Friday at Ichabod Crane.

“Their basketball IQ is very high for freshmen,” Schalmont coach Jeff Van Hoesen said. “They do have some bumps, but they do a good job for us. There is a lot on their plate, and they handle it. They play beyond their years, without a doubt.”

Van Hoesen has watched the freshmen attack varsity opponents since they were in the seventh grade. The two friends who play AAU ball together will go after each other pretty good, too.

“Those two are bulldogs,” Van Hoesen said. “Neither one will back down. They’ll battle, even in practice.”

The only freshmen on Schamont’s roster are dig-in defenders with a scoring touch from close and long range.

Graber set a school record with 40 points on Jan. 11, when the Sabres upset Voorheesville 53-42.

“I was watching that unfold, and I loved it,” said Burchhardt, who missed that game and a handful of others earlier in the season with an ankle injury. “That was an amazing night for her.”

Burchhardt reached her season-high last Friday with 28 points in a 57-43 win over Rotterdam-rival Mohonasen. That performance included five 3-point baskets.

“The other night, we were playing Mohonasen. Payton is playing pretty well, and Haley is shooting well. Payton taps her on the shoulder and goes, ‘Keep shooting,'” Van Hoesen said. “They’re both like that.”

Burchhardt said her outing Friday left her hungry for more, and after she scored eight first-half points Tuesday, she surpassed that total by one in the third frame. She scored nine of Schalmont first 12 points in the quarter.

“When you score a decent amount of points, it makes you want to shoot a little more,” Burchhardt said.

Graber’s nine fourth-quarter points included seven in quick succession, on two foul shots, a 3-pointer and a layup that came after one of her three steals.

“We work well together,” Graber said. “We know our roles. We know what we’re supposed to do.”

Schalmont gained separation in the second quarter with an 11-0 run that erased a 9-7 deficit. Burchhardt started it with a 3, and Eden Messemer followed with two more 3s before Graber dropped in a layup.

“We started to make a couple shots,” said Burchhardt, who snared a game-high eight rebounds to go with her 17 points. “That got us going. We kept going.”

Autumn Anderson played strong defense on Graber before the daughter of former Schamont and UAlbany star Jason Graber began to click.

“It’s frustrating sometimes,” the young Graber said. “You’ve got to get through it.”

Abby Lenehan scored eight of her 11 points in the second half for Schalmont, and Messemer totaled nine points. Patience Riley led Lansingburgh (2-13, 3-15) with eight points, five rebounds and three steals.


Teta 0-2-2, Riley 3-1-8, Taylor 1-0-2, Anderson 2-0-6, Sirtori 1-2-4, Rondon 3-0-6. Totals: 10-5-28.


Graber 4-2-11, Messemer 3-0-9, Burchhardt 4-6-17, Lenehan 3-5-11, Schaefer 0-1-1. Totals: 14-14-49.

Lansingburgh 2 13 6 7 — 28

Schalmont 5 15 16 13 — 49

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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