Not even a twisted ankle in the first minute of the game was going to keep Bethlehem senior Bridget Murphy from her first responsibility Friday night.
Murphy shook off the nagging pain, instead turning into a pain for Colonie as she held standout guard Sydnie Rosales to one basket, helping the Eagles to a 50-48 win in a big early-season matchup of teams in the girls’ Suburban Council South.
“First minute of the game, but I had to tough it out,” said Murphy, who hounded Rosales into missing her first 12 shots. “I’ve been looking forward to this game for so long.”
“I wish, sometimes, the boxscore would show those kind of things,” said Bethlehem coach Matthew Bixby of Murphy’s effort. “I told Bridget yesterday, ‘You’ve got her.’ Bridget rose to the challenge. She did everything we asked her to do. She made things tough for Sydnie. Sydnie is a fantastic player. For Bridget to be able to step up the way she did, I was impressed.”
“Sydnie is a phenomenal player and I know she can shoot,” Murphy said. “I just wanted to pressure her, frustrate her a little bit. I have a great team behind me on defense, helping me, calling out screens, helping me get through.”
Even with Rosales struggling to find the range, Colonie found a way to battle back from a 17-10 deficit after one quarter.
Behind senior Jaclyn Welch and 11th-grader Nicole Riddick, the hosts trimmed the deficit to four after three quarters and grabbed a 44-43 lead with 1:40 to go on a Riddick basket.
Leading scorer Gabby Giacone got the last of her 16 points, and fellow 10th-grader Kaylee Rickert made two free throws and a layup to put the Lady Eagles up, 49-44, with 1:05 to play.
Rosales then hit her only shot, a three-pointer, with 38 seconds left, and Riddick made one of two from the line to make it a one-point game with 30 seconds left.
Murphy grabbed the rebound, but was called for traveling. After a Riddick miss, Murphy again got the rebound, and hit the first of two free throws with 15 seconds to play.
Welch, who finished with a team-high 17 points, missed a three, and Rosales couldn’t follow in a crowded lane as the buzzer sounded.
“We played hard. We wanted an opportunity at the end of the game, and we got it,” said Colonie coach Heather Fiore.
Bethlehem, with three sophomores and a junior joining Murphy in the starting lineup, improved to 3-0, while the defending Class AA champion Lady Raiders fell to 1-2.
“This was a grow-up game for us,” said Bixby. “We’re going to have ups and downs as a factor of our age, but we can’t equate age with a lack of experience. We are an incredibly experienced team both in-season and the offseason.”
Fiore said her team will also take something from the game.
“I think the other players learned a lot tonight,” she said. “The last few games, Sydnie scored a lot of points. There are going to be nights when that doesn’t happen. Other players need to step up, and I think they did. I think that’s going to give the other players confidence, knowing they can play that well.
“We want to be our best in February. Each game, we’ve seen an improvement. That’s what were looking for.”
“This was a great win tonight,” said Murphy.
“I said to the girls in the locker room, if you look at the stats from this game, I don’t know how we won. We were outrebounded. We didn’t shoot the ball well. We turned it over and gave away way more fast break lay ups than we usually do,” said Bixby, who also got big contributions from sophomores Hughes and Kaylee Rickert in the closing minutes.
“The bottom line is, we still won. We pushed through those things and this is what we need. This is how teams get better, you survive a game like this. You’re better moving forward for it.”
G. Giacone 8-0-16, Hughes 1-0-2, J. Giacone 6-0-12, Murphy 3-1-8, Rickert 4-3-12. Totals: 26-4-50.
Rosales 1-2-5, Welch 8-0-17, Dyer 2-0-5, Riddick 5-3-13, Lane 1-0-2, Blum 3-0-6.
Bethlehem 17 11 10 12 — 50
Colonie 10 15 9 14 — 48
Three-point baskets: Murphy, Rickert 2, Rosales, Welch, Dyer.