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Mohonasen basketball in rebuild mode

Mohonasen basketball in rebuild mode

Young team bows to Niskayuna
Mohonasen basketball in rebuild mode
Mohonasen's Bre Lott tries to get around Niskayuna's Natalie Prian Friday.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

NISKAYUNA -- There were times Friday night when Mohonasen struggled to move the basketball through Niskayuna's fullcourt pressure defense. Finding open looks against the Silver Warriors' 2-3 zone didn't come any easier in a 63-41 loss.

That will happen with a varsity team as young as Mohonasen, which played the Suburban Council game with two juniors, six sophomores and two freshmen on its roster.

"The way you get better at it is to do it," Mohonasen coach Doug Holden said. "Things go wrong sometimes. We have to go through growing pains."

There's been a lot of that for the Mohonasen team that shows two wins, yet believes plenty more are on the horizon.

"That's the goal next year," Mohonasen sophomore Bre Lott said after her team's loss against the Olivia Owens-led Silver Warriors. "We're moving to the Colonial Council, and we want to prove ourselves. There are good teams in that league, and we want to show them we're something they can't take lightly."

Niskayuna coach Sarah Neely didn't take Mohonasen lightly.

"Mohonasen may be young, but they play hard, and they have girls who can light it up," Neeley said. "I've seen them get hot."

Mohonasen hung with Niskayuna through the first quarter Friday night before the Silver Warriors went on a 20-6 run to gain a firm upper hand. Owens, the 6-foot-4 senior who has committed to Maryland, scored 11 of her 18 points in the frame.

"We have that one quarter where they show their age, and all of a sudden, we're not in the game," Holden said.

The Mighty Warriors are working diligently at the game, though.

"The discussions we're having aren't discussions of frustration," Holden said. "They are discussions about learning. They'll come off the court not sure what to do. When they go back in they're trying to apply what I tell them."

Lott, junior Kateri Vumbaco and sophomore Ava Fasolino are the only healthy players on the Mohonasen roster who saw action last season. Lott had 25 points, three steals and three assists to lead the way Friday.

"We know we have a young team, and it's really about adjusting to the varsity level and seeing teams," Lott said. "It's about working hard and improving off games like this."

Defense is where Mohonasen has made the most forward strides.

"We started with man early in the season and it wasn't going so well, so we went to zone," Holden said. "We went back to man because I believe it's something we're going to need to have success in the long run, and the girls have embraced it. They're recognizing things. They're learning how to double-team and when.

"They did a tremendous job doing that tonight, but you can't teach 6-4. [Owens] is a great player. She's a beast."

Someday, some coach may be calling Lott that same thing. The 5-11 sophomore can not only score but also handle the ball, like she was called on to do at times against the Niskayuna press.

"She's a good 3-point shooter, she can drive and she plays good defense," Owens said of Lott. "She is going to go somewhere."

Mohonasen might be going places, too, once it gains more experience.

"They lost [Mohonasen career scoring leader] Saeda [Abdul-Aziz to graduation]," Owens said. "They're different, but you can see how passionate they are. You can see their chemistry coming."

Niskayuna (6-7, 9-8) showed its chemistry in the form of some excellent passing which led to open looks. Tyra O'Meally scored 10 points, and 10 Silver Warriors scored.

"We were running our offense," Neely said. "We were seeing the open girl, making great passes and connecting."

Owens had a hand in Niskayuna's first 13 points in the second quarter, scoring nine while assisting on two baskets.

MOHONASEN

Caldwell 3-0-7, Hart 1-2-5, Hopkins 0-1-1, Purzycki 1-0-3, Lott 9-3-25. Totals: 14-6-41.

NISKAYUNA

Greco 1-0-2, Reffelt 1-0-2, Souky 2-0-4, I. Owens 3-0-7, Hamilton 2-0-4, Kelleher 1-0-2, Prian 3-1-9, Kelly 2-0-5, O'Meally 5-0-10, O. Owens 6-6-18. Totals: 26-7-63.

Mohonasen 9 6 8 18 - 41

Niskayuna 14 20 20 9 - 63

Three-point goals: Caldwell, Hart, Purzycki, Lott 4, I. Owens, Prian, Kelly.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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