SCHENECTADY — Janessa Jones and her Schenectady teammates found themselves in an unfamiliar position heading into the fourth quarter of Saturday’s girls’ basketball game with Ballston Spa.
With eight minutes left, the Patriots had the lead.
“My heart was racing,” Jones said. “It was close.”
In the end, not so much.
Jones scored the last 14 points of her career-high 35 down the stretch, and Schenectady, with its small roster and plenty of determination, came away with a 64-46 Suburban Council win at Pat Riley Sports Center.
“We needed a win,” said Jones, a junior who has been with the varsity team for three seasons. “I feel like this will boost us; I feel it will boost our self-esteem.”
Schenectady (1-4) was in a good position to win only once in its previous four games, when it was tied at 31 with a quarter left last weekend at Columbia. Schenectady lost that one 54-47.
“We were close with Columbia, but not composed,” Schenectady coach Carol Lupo said. “Today, we were composed and not chaotic. We took the right shots at the right time. It was not random. Talia [Washington] took good leadership with that. Janessa took good leadership with that.”
Schenectady’s fourth quarter offense was a mix of patience and strong plays from Jones, who never hesitated to attack when she saw an opening. During a 15-2 run to close the game, Jones scored 12 points on a putback and five driving layups.
“It was all about defense for me when I started playing,” Jones said after turning in one of the top scoring games ever for a Schenectady girl. “I have tried to become more of an offensive player. I’m just now showing up.”
Jones scored eight points in the first quarter and four in the second before hitting overdrive in the second half.
“I was not worried about scoring,” said Washington, who finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. “As soon as she [Jones] made a couple of shots, I knew she was on fire and I tried to get her the ball.”
Jones got the ball on her own with seven steals, five of those coming in the second half.
“I got some good assists and some [points] came off my defense,” Jones said.
The game saw five lead changes and was tied five times. Ballston Spa (0-4) knotted the game at 35 on two free throws by Madysen Thomas late in the third quarter before Washington and Jones dropped in layups, and Jones put in another one after coming up with a steal.
“I think people underestimate her length and quickness,” Lupo said of Jones.
Schenectady won with eight players Saturday, including Elizabeth Tchako-Tchuambe, one of its two seniors, who scored her six points in the second half and snared nine rebounds.
“At the half, I was worried we didn’t have enough energy. We had injuries and kids away,” said Lupo, whose team was up 28-25 at the break. “I told them, ‘We’ve got 16 minutes. We can win this game. We’ve got to crank it up.'”
Halie Wright had 12 points and 16 rebounds for Ballston Spa, and Callie LaGoy also scored 12 points.
Ballston Spa 15 10 10 11 – 46
Schenectady 15 13 13 23 – 64
Ballston Spa scoring: Verdile 3-0-6, Wright 6-0-12, Thomas 2-2-7, LaGoy 5-2-12, Robbie 3-0-6, Guarino 0-1-1, Piscitelli 1-0-2. Schenectady scoring: Johes 17-1-35, Rodriguez 1-3-5, E. Tchako-Tchaumbe 3-0-6, M. Tchako-Tchuambe 1-0-2, Washington 7-0-16. Scoring totals: Ballston Spa 20-5-46, Schenectady 29-4-64.