CLIFTON PARK — Following COVID-19 protocols, the Shenendehowa girls’ basketball team avoided high-fives before, during and after its Suburban Council game with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Thursday night.
Instead, the Plainsmen exchanged elbow taps, and there were a awful lot of them. There were plenty of smiles under the masks they wore, too.
“You could read their eyes,” Shenendehowa coach Joe Murphy said. “You could tell.”
That Shenendehowa won 68-30 against a young Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake team was just a small part of the Plainsmen’s glee.
Their last game, just before the COVID-19 pandemic swept into New York and took away so much, was a March 7 win over Saratoga Springs that secured a second straight Section II Class AA title for the program.
“I wasn’t worried about rotations or defensive assignments,” Murphy said. “Tonight was just about playing and getting back to some normalcy. The kids had a good time. The seniors got to play a home game. It was fun.”
Yes it was.
“It feels awesome,” Shenendehowa senior Meghan Huerter said. “It’s definitely a lot different with the masks and not having contact with your teammates, but it was good to get on the court. It’s good to be back playing.”
While Shenendehowa won’t be playing for another Section II championship this winter due to the cancellation of the tournament, there is still much to play for.
“An experience,” Murphy said. “Sure, we’ll develop the younger kids, but it’s more about making memories this year.”
Huerter already has a good one, after nailing five 3-point baskets in the first half of the first game of a season she didn’t count on.
“I wasn’t sure,” the Providence-bound guard said. “When we started the school year, I was hoping, but not expecting it. I was going to use my time and effort to gear up for the future.”
The immediate future will include several more games in this condensed campaign in a Shenendehowa uniform.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Jan. 22 that “high” risk sports including basketball could be played in New York starting Feb. 1 upon consent from county and school district leadership.
“It came out of the blue. It was surprising,” Murphy said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen. It’s wild.”
Burnt Hills junior forward Callie Chevalier had her doubts, as well.
“With what was happening, we weren’t sure we were going to have a season,” the basketball and volleyball standout said. “It’s great being back. We want to be competitive with the other teams, but the No. 1 thing is to have fun.”
“I think we’re all really happy to be playing,” Huerter said.
Shenendehowa scored the first 10 points and led 20-5 after the opening quarter against Burnt Hills’ all-underclassmen lineup. The Plainsmen were up 41-12 at the half.
“We were all looking for each other,” said Huerter, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. “We wanted to get out early and have the game flow in our favor.”
The Huerter sisters made a big impact in the game, with new starting point guard Jillian Huerter, a junior, collecting 11 points to go with a team-leading six assists and three steals.
“Jillian has been the backup the last two years,” said Murphy, who lost point guard Simone Walker to graduation. “It’s her show.”
Shenendehowa senior forward Sam Lee had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Chevalier hit four 3-pointers as part of a 16-point outing, and also grabbed six rebounds to go with four steals. Grace O’Connor added eight points.
“We just wanted to work as hard as we could,” Chevalier said. “We knew it was going to be hard, but we were going to leave it all on the floor.”
Burnt Hills 5 7 9 9 – 30
Shenendehowa 20 21 19 8 – 68
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scoring: Blesi 1-1-3, Felix 1-1-3, Chevalier 5-2-16, O’Connor 3-0-8. Shenendehowa scoring: J. Juerter 5-0-11, Montanez 3-0-8, Slader 1-0-3, Carpenter 4-1-9, Carey 1-3-6, Wilders 1-0-2, M. Huerter 6-0-17, Lee 5-1-11, Cozzens 0-1-1. Scoring totals: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 10-4-30, Shenendehowa 26-6-68.