With Shenendehowa’s “pest” bugging opposing ball-handlers, the Lady Plainsmen worked their full-court press to perfection in a 57-28 victory over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Tuesday night in the Suburban Council.
Barb Shea scored 14 points and hounded the Spartans’ ball-handlers in leading Shenendehowa. The Lady Plainsmen pressured Burnt Hills into 16 first-half turnovers, with six of those coming in the backcourt.
After losing its season opener to Niskayuna, Shenendehowa has won eight consecutive games to improve to 8-1 overall, 6-1 in the Suburban. With Colonie falling to Averill Park, Shen pulled ahead to take sole possession of the Blue Division lead.
Burnt Hills fell to 5-6 overall, 2-5 in the White Division.
With the Plainsmen pressing after scoring and Shea at the front, Burnt Hills had trouble getting the ball past the foul line in the backcourt, let alone beyond midcourt. Shea made several steals, reading the Spartans’ passes soon after they inbounded the ball.
“Barb’s always had the knack, that uncanny knack,” Shenendehowa coach Ken Strube said. “She’s always had great foot-speed. And she’s a pest. She’s like a fly at a picnic. She’s everywhere. . . . She’s still our point guard on the defensive end, and she just gives people fits.”
Shea sparkled during a 9-0 run in the second quarter. After she hit a three-pointer from the left wing, Burnt Hills coach George Dudas called a timeout. But shortly after Burnt Hills inbounded the ball, Shea anticipated a pass and cut in between Erin Little and Georgina Farrow near the foul line, intercepting the ball and slashing in for an easy layup to make it 23-10 for Shen.
“That just turns into points,” Shea said. “You’re able to get the ball back, work the ball around, set up the offense or just take it to the hole.”
It was a rough night for the Spartans. It was their second game in a row without their starting point guard, sophomore Emily Ostrom, who tore her left ACL on Thursday. Additionally, two of the Spartans’ star players were in foul trouble by halftime. Little picked up her third foul with 18 seconds remaining in the first half, and began the third quarter on the bench. And leading scorer Farrow, a forward who began the game at point guard, sat with 2:03 remaining in the second quarter with her second foul.
Burnt Hills led, 7-4, when Farrow sank a three-pointer from the top of the key with 3:48 into the game. But the Lady Plainsmen held the Spartans scoreless for the rest of the first quarter to take a 14-7 lead.
“They came out very, very aggressive,” Shea said. “We knew they were going to have that fire to come out tough. We knew we had to step it up, and that made us play tougher as well.”
Burnt Hills trimmed Shen’s lead to 14-10 early in the second quarter on a free throw by Little. But Shen forced the Spartans into three turnovers during a two-minute stretch for its 23-10 lead.
“The up part of our press does most of the damage,” Strube said. “Our athleticism on defense has given us some nice cushions and created a lot of our offense.”
“Strube always has us do this [press] on the run,” Shen’s Meg Goodwin said. “We think it’s an element of surprise when you don’t have to take a timeout to stop. . . . Our ability to do the press is very strong. We’re very quick and fast, and we can definitely intimidate teams and get them in traps.”
Shea 6-1-14, Goodwin 1-0-2, Holland 2-1-5, Woodward 3-0-9, Turner 1-1-4, Wheeler 0-1-1, Ferro 1-0-2, Ray 2-0-4, Alexander 1-0-2, Vrigian 1-0-2, Foti 1-1-4, Setter 3-2-8. Totals: 22-7-57.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE
Juron 2-2-6, Allocco 0-3-3, Little 0-1-1, Brown 0-0-0, Farrow 3-0-7, Pettis 1-0-2, Lawry 3-2-8, Merchant 0-1-1. Totals: 9-9-28.
Shenendehowa 14 16 12 15 — 57
BH-BL 7 7 4 10 — 28
Three-point goals: Shea, Woodward 3, Turner, Foti, Farrow.