Caitlin Estes was supposed to get a gradual indoctrination into varsity competition last season with the Scotia-Glenville basketball team, and Nicole Conley was going to be a complementary piece.
Things changed significantly for the pair when Angie DeJohn and Rachael Cox sustained knee injuries before the Tartans played their first game, and Daily Gazette all-star Cassie Broadhead went down with a shoulder injury three games in.
“Last year, being an eighth-grader, I was expecting to learn at first,” said Estes, a point guard. “When I got thrown in there, I was really scared. I’m a lot more comfortable now.”
Conley said she is, too, after scoring in double digits for the sixth time in seven games Saturday in a 55-44 Foothills Council win over South Glens Falls.
“I went from playing two minutes a game as a freshman to starting and being asked to take on a lead role,” she said. “This year, I’m more prepared for it.”
Conley scored nine of her 14 points in the second half, and Estes connected on two three-point baskets in a key first-half run as part of Scotia-Glenville’s seventh win in as many games.
“They’re both playing with a ton of confidence,” said first-year Tartans coach Carlin DeMarinis. “They definitely gained a lot from last year’s experience. Now they’re playing even more important roles for us.”
Estes finished with 18 points for her sixth double-figure performance after scoring no more than six in any game as an eighth-grader. Conley recorded a triple-double with 11 rebounds and 11 steals in Scotia-Glenville’s third league triumph. The junior forward also deflected four passes and blocked three shots, with two of those rejections coming late as the Tartans held off the scrappy Bulldogs.
“It’s not just two players,” said Estes. “It’s five working together.”
Scotia-Glenville’s other three varsity veterans played big roles Saturday, with Katelyn Dwyer scoring 10 points, Carle McNulty netting all eight of her points in the first half, when the Tartans opened up a 29-16 advantage, and Allison Casey collecting seven rebounds and three steals to go with five points.
Dwyer sank a jumper, and Conley followed with a steal and layup after South Glens Falls pulled to within six, 34-28, midway through the third quarter. Another steal and layup by Conley, and a hook shot by the 5-foot-10 junior, helped the Tartans open up a 42-33 lead heading into the final period.
“I like that all of our girls are threats on the court,” said DeMarinis. “On any given day, someone can step up.”
Collectively, the Tartans have come within one victory of last season’s total, when they finished 8-11. Casey and Dwyer are the only seniors on a team that owns wins over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Niskayuna and Bishop Maginn.
“All of us last year got to play, and that’s helping us this year,” said Conley. “We molded last year. We know how we play.”
“They’ve come along together as a group, and little by little, they’re getting better,” said DeMarinis. “They come every day ready to go, and they’ve bought into my system. They’re willing to do what I ask.”
DeMarinis was looking for some cleaner play in the second quarter after three quick turnovers led to three South Glens Falls baskets as the visitors drew even at 14-14. Shannon Curley turned a steal into a layup during the Bulldogs’ spurt and nailed a three moments later
which was part of her 18-point effort.
“In the second quarter, I got into them. I didn’t recognize that team,” said DeMarinis. “We needed to regroup. I put people in certain spots to beat their press, and they responded.”
South Glens Falls (1-4, 1-5) pressed throughout the game.
“We worked together as a team,” said Estes. “That’s how we handled it.”
After Katelynn Bourdeau’s putback tied the game at 14-14, Scotia-Glenville went on a 13-0 run that McNulty started with a jumper. Conley scored on two drives and added a free throw afterward, and Estes sank a pair of threes, her second one making it 27-14.
“I was pleased with the way we picked it up in the second quarter and carried that intensity into the second half,” said Conley.
DeMarinis has been stressing high-energy basketball, knowing the Tartans will need to play that way against fellow league title contenders Queensbury and Glens Falls. Queensbury won the league championship last season after Scotia-Glenville had earned first place in each of the three seasons before.
“I’m trying to take the kind of play you see in the Suburban Council and bring it to the Foothills Council,” said DeMarinis, who played scholastically at Saratoga Springs. “That level of play is fast and intense.”
Saturday’s win was Scotia-Glenville’s fifth by double figures.
Conley had seven of her steals in the second half, while Estes went 5-for-6 from the line in the fourth quarter, and Dwyer was 5-for-8 in the last period. Curley finished with four three-point baskets.
SOUTH GLENS FALLS
Bourdeau 1-0-2, Potter 2-0-4, Coon 1-0-2, Relyea-Allen 1-0-2, Curley 6-2-18, Buser 1-0-2,
Brown 3-2-8, Park 3-0-6. Totals: 18-4-44.
Casey 2-1-5, Dwyer 2-5-10, Conley 6-2-14, McNulty 4-0-8, Estes 5-6-18. Totals: 19-14-55.
South Glens Falls 7 9 17 11 — 44
Scotia-Glenville 12 17 13 13 — 55
Three-point goals: Curley 4, Dwyer, Estes 2.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 395-3143 or email@example.com.