Albany County

Shenendehowa graduate Almeida learning during freshman basketball season at Quinnipiac

Former area star played at Siena on Saturday
Cat Almeida warms up prior to Saturday's game in Loudonville.
Cat Almeida warms up prior to Saturday's game in Loudonville.

LOUDONVILLE — Every day, just trying to get a little bit better.

That’s been the goal for freshman Cat Almeida since she joined the Quinnipiac women’s basketball program after starring for multiple years at Shenendehowa High School. The 6-foot-5 Almeida returned to the Capital Region Saturday to take on Siena, but didn’t see action in Quinnipiac’s 66-52 win after making mostly brief appearances in each of the team’s first 10 games.

“Everybody here is bigger and stronger than in high school, so I feel like that’s the thing I have to adapt to,” said Almeida, who has scored a dozen points and collected 13 rebounds in 56 total minutes this season. “I have to get stronger and I have to get tougher. I try to do that every day in practice and in the weight room, and when I do get in I try to maximize the opportunity.”

Almeida improved throughout her career at Shenendehowa, which saw her average 12.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game in leading the Plainsmen to a Section II Class AA championship and earn a Daily Gazette All-Area first-team selection as a senior.

She knew, though, that minutes wouldn’t be easy to earn at Quinnipiac, even as the program is off to a 4-7 start. Quinnipiac has won the last three MAAC tournament championships and its loss last week to Iona was its first against a conference opponent since the 2016-17 season.

“College is obviously very different from high school, and I came into it expecting a big change,” said Almeida, whose father Mauricio Almeida played for Saint Rose. “I’ve appreciated the process so far. The games are exciting and practices get me better every time. Each practice, I’m getting more and more prepared to play at this level. . . . The main focus is just to contribute whatever I can to make sure the team’s successful, whether that’s from the bench or on the court or in practice. 

Almeida was one of two former Shenendehowa stars to return to the Capital Region during the weekend to play against the area’s Division I women’s basketball programs. On Sunday, senior Carly Boland played at UAlbany for visiting Binghamton.

Playing back near home, Almeida echoed Yale men’s basketball player August Mahoney — a Saratoga Springs native and Albany Academy graduate who played at UAlbany earlier this season — that the strangest part of the experience was how “it was really weird to stay in a hotel 20 minutes from my house.” She’s enjoying her new school, though, and especially the friendships she’s already made with her new teammates.

“I’m with my team all the time, which is different from high school,” Almeida said. “You practiced every day together in high school, but now I’m with my team almost 24/7 and it’s awesome because everyone’s really welcomed me.”

Categories: College Sports, Schenectady County, Sports, Your Niskayuna

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