BURNT HILLS — If there was a jumbotron in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School gymnasium, it would flash the new motto of the Spartans girls’ basketball team: “Let’s Make Some Noise!”
Burnt Hills closed out its Suburban Council schedule Thursday night with a 70-46 win against Ballston Spa, and now the Spartans have their sights set on the Section II Class A playoffs. A year ago, in Colleen Froschauer’s first season leading Burnt Hills, the then-No. 10 seeded Spartans upset No. 7 Scotia-Glenville before falling to No. 2 Queensbury.
This year, the Burnt Hills lineup filled with multi-sport stars such as state volleyball champions Carlie Rzeszotarski and Callie Chevalier wants to keep building up a program that struggled for years before recent seasons.
“As a team, this was a really big year for us because this was our year to make our mark and make some noise, to let people know who we are,” Rzeszotarski said.
Needing to do that represents a big change from the fall, when the school’s girls’ volleyball team annually marches through the Suburban Council and Section II onto the state final four.
“Most of us have to work harder at it, and we want to be an example for the younger kids,” Chevalier said of the basketball season. “We want to win these bigger games and show them that they can win those bigger games when they come up.”
That was an attraction for Froschauer to working and coaching at Burnt Hills.
“It’s better to come into a district that knows success and they’re going to support you to get to that point,” said Froschauer, who worked in the Johnstown district for more than a decade before heading to Burnt Hills.
The former Shenendehowa girls’ basketball standout appreciates what it’s like to be surrounded by successful programs.
“Outside of wrestling, boys’ and girls’ basketball have struggled in the winter. They’re not as strong as our fall and spring sports,” Froschauer said. “These girls, they have the ability. It’s maintaining girls in the program, keeping kids playing, keeping kids wanting to be involved.
“It’s a smaller district and they’re playing a lot of other sports and we have to know that we have to share a lot of athletes compared to our counterparts that have just basketball players. We have multi-sport athletes and we’re working all together — coaching, sharing and doing the best that we can for each season.”
For the two volleyball stars, basketball hasn’t come as easily as their volleyball skills on the same hardwood in the fall.
“We’re winning more games and making more noise, so we devote more time to basketball,” Rzeszotarski said. “We want to get better as a program, so we’re putting in those extra hours and that time because we want to work towards that bigger goal.”
There has also been an adjustment for Froschauer.
“I want it to happen immediately, and it’s going to take time to build,” Froschauer said. “I have [former Burnt Hills coach] George Dudas coaching with us part-time to bounce things off of and bring me down when I need to come down, and bring me back up when I need to be positive.”
On Thursday the Spartans were led by Chevalier’s 16 points, with junior Carly Szczepaniak adding 15, filling the shoes of Rzeszotarski who is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Junior Isabel Adams dropped in 12 more points for Burnt Hills.
Ballston Spa was led by senior Samantha DeVito’s 16 points.
Despite the lopsided win, Froschauer said she wasn’t “fully happy” with her team’s performance. Her squad gets that’s because of its elevated level of play.
“Expectations have been increased and they recognize that,” Froschauer said.
The Spartans will face Mekeel Christian Academy in a non-league tilt Tuesday afternoon before the Section II seedings are announced Wednesday. Overall, Burnt Hills is 7-12, but that record includes a 5-9 mark in the Class AA-heavy Suburban Council.
“The tough teams we play — the Shens, Saratogas, Averill Parks and Shaker — everyone helps us prepare for sectional play,” Froschauer said.
That, coupled with last season’s positive postseason moments, has the Spartans ready to take another step as a program this year.
“[Last year] was a stepping stone. It meant that they believed that they could get there and they proved that,” Froschauer said. “This year, it’s about making a statement.”
Ballston Spa 7 10 17 12 — 46
Burnt Hills 19 22 14 15 — 70
Ballston Spa scoring: Jesmain 1-2-4, LaGoy 1-0-2, Piscatelli 2-1-6, Scaccia 1-0-2, Teitsch 2-3-7, Thomas 3-0-7, DeVito 5-2-16, Rhodes 1-0-2. Burnt Hills scoring: O'Connor 3-0-6, Lescault 1-1-3, Blesi 4-0-8, Adams 6-0-12, Vaughan 1-0-2, Szczepaniak 6-3-15, Chevalier 7-1-16, Neary 4-0-8. Team scoring: Ballston Spa 16-8-46. Burnt Hills 32-11-70.
Reach Stan Hudy at [email protected] or @StanHudy on Twitter