When practice began last month, Schalmont girls’ basketball coach Craig Sargent knew it could take some time for his team to take shape.
“Four of our five starters were playing on the girls’ soccer team that won the state championship,” said Sargent. “So, we’ve only really had them for about 21⁄2 weeks.”
The Lady Sabres have gotten off to a 2-0 start, and they host Voorheesville tonight in a Colonial Council game.
“When we entered the season, it was a little bit of a difficult situation,” Sargent said. “But, at the same time, I have to say that the girls have really come together.
“The soccer players have gotten their legs under them, and we’ve gone forward from there.”
Karley Murray was recruited to play goalkeeper for the soccer team, where she joined Alexandra Cardinal, Allie Gallo, Ciara Vitallo and Hailee Metzold for the fall season.
Those aren’t the only two-sport athletes on the team.
Junior Giuliana DiGiocchinoi was a co-captain on the volleyball team that was seeded first for sectional play. Briana Gallucci ran cross country in the fall. Jessia Bellai is on the track team.
“We have athletes,” said Sargent. “And they’re coming off seasons where they have had success. We hope that carries over.
“But we’re tiny. We have no height. Our starting center is 5-foot-5. Voorheesville is big, so the matchups are going to be difficult.”
To offset that disadvantage, Sargent is looking for his team to run.
“We’re going to try to play in the open court,” he said. “We’re going to make it a fullcourt game. We’re not going to be able to run a lot of plays and patterns..
“But they also press, so we’ll have to handle their press, and their size, and go from there.”
Voorheesville has most of its players back from the group that beat Cambridge, 56-53, in last winter’s Class C championship game. Seniors Emily Blow, Sarah Madden and Jennifer Cillis have taken turns as the Blackbirds’ high scorer in three games this season, and 11th-grader Anna Feller rang up 20 points in a season-opening non-league victory over Bishop Maginn.
“They’ve got just about everybody back,” said Sargent, who stepped into the Schalmont head coaching position last December when Carley Galarneau went on maternity leaver. “Last year, we lost to Voorheesville by a 94-38 total in the two games.”
Sargent would like the school’s fall athletic success to carry through the winter season.
“We’re hoping that happens,” he said. “The soccer players had a tremendous season. The volleyball team is always strong, and I had some of these girls on the cross country team.
“And Carley put a great system in place, in terms of conditioning. They’re lifting [weights] two times a week, and doing circuit training on Saturdays. They’re doing everything they can to make themselves better athletes.”
Bellai scored 20 points in the Lady Sabres’ 59-38 win over Fonda-Fultonville, with Cardinal adding 15. Murray led the team in scoring in Schalmont’s last game, a 46-36 win at Albany Academy last Friday.
But playing in a division with the Blackbirds and Watervliet leaves little room for off nights.
“I have tremendous respect for Voorheesville,” said Sargent. “They had a great season last year.
“At the same time, our girls have really come together and committed themselves to this season. I guess our motto would be, ‘If we believe it, the impossible can be the possible’.”