SCHENECTADY — Ballston Spa and Schenectady both did some good things in their girls’ non-league basketball matchup Wednesday night.
The Scotties did one thing better: Putting the ball in the net.
Natalia Guthrie provided a spark off the bench with 10 points, and three of her teammates added eight points apiece in a balanced effort that was part of Ballston Spa’s 48-32 win at the Pat Riley Sports Center.
“I really liked how we played at the defensive end and how we battled our hearts out,” Ballston Spa coach Toby Youngblood said after his team’s second victory this season, both of them coming at Schenectady’s expense. “We also had a good shooting night. That was the best shooting night we’ve had all season.”
Schenectady hung with Ballston Spa early and pulled even at nine when Izabella Hempstead sank a jumper late in the first quarter. The Scotties closed the half with a 20-9 run, and sealed the contest with an 11-0 surge spanning the third and fourth quarters.
“To Schenectady’s credit, they broke our press,” Youngblood said. “It came down to a halfcourt game and we won that.”
The setback kept Schenectady, with its all underclass lineup, winless this season.
“We’re always climbing up this mountain. We’re always facing obstacles and debris is falling on, but they just keep going at it,” Schenectady coach Carol Lupo said. “It’s amazing that they don’t quit. They want to get better. They try every game and come to the table.”
Lupo pointed out the improvement of Anya Hernandez’ game from the start of the season to now. The junior scored 17 points Wednesday night and grabbed 13 rebounds to go with three steals.
“She is coming of age in terms of her abilities and her understanding of the game,” Lupo said of Hernandez, who played an aggressive inside game and accounted for half of Schenectady’s 19 first-half points. “She did not have a quick release and that has changed. She has developed this year where she can catch and shoot before a defender gets on her.”
Ballston Spa’s defense combined with Schenectady’s missed shots and turnovers accounted for the Patriots’ offensive struggle. On the flip side, Ballston Spa displayed its balanced offensive as Payton Messina, Olivia Verdile and Salihah Webster scored eight points each, and Chloe Rhoden and Madysen Thomas both contributed six.
“I liked our connection and the way we played as a team,” said Rhoden, a sophomore who scored twice down low in the 11-0 second-half run that boosted Ballston Spa’s advantage to 42-22. “Some of us had not played together and some of us had, and we’ve done a good job of mixing the two groups into one.”
“We’ve progressed in a lot of ways,” Guthrie added. “Overall we’re a better team than we were when we started.”
Schenectady has made strides forward, as well.
“It can’t be about the score at this time for us,” Lupo said. “It has to be about personal achievements. I am seeing that.”
Hempstead netted six points for Schenectady and Rae Smith put in five to go with seven rebounds.
After Hempstead’s 3 knotted the game at nine, Webster sank two free throws and Messina hit a 3 to close the first quarter. Guthrie delivered seven points in the second quarter when her team outscored Schenectady 15-9, and the 10th-grader hit a 3 later on in the Scotties’ 11-0 run.
“In time she [Guthrie] will probably be one of the better guards in the league,” Youngblood said. “She is only a sophomore. She still has room to progress.”
Guthrie made two foul shots, scored on a rebound and outback and knocked down a 3 in the second quarter.
“I put forth all of my energy when I got in there,” Guthrie said. “I tried to make something happen.”
Ballston Spa 14 15 8 11 — 48
Schenectady 9 9 4 10 — 32
Ballston Spa scoring: Guthrie 3-2-10, Messina 3-0-8, Rhoden 3-0-6, Sikoryak 0-2-2, Thomas 3-0-6, :Verdile 2-3-8, Webster 2-4-8. Schenectady scoring: Hempstead 3-0-6, Hernandez 8-1-17, Rodriguez 1-0-2, Smith 2-1-5, Tchako-Tiako 1-0-2. Scoring totals: Ballston Spa 16-11-48, Schenectady 15-2-32.