Burnt Hills coach's motto: Run, don't walk
Andrew Haluska has a grand vision for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys’ basketball program.
“My goal is to have people talking about basketball at Burnt Hills the way they talk about football,” he said. “I’m looking long-term. I know it’s a large goal.”
Haluska’s plan is to have players of all ages in the school district go, go, go at a frenetic pace, from those in the Spartan Junior program to those at the high school levels. Haluska will be taking over the high school’s varsity in November.
“We’ve got great kids at Burnt Hills. We’ve got athletes at Burnt Hills. It’s a style we’re going to instill from third grade all the way up,” said the fifth-grader teacher at Charlton Heights Elementary School. “We want to play fast, play up and down, guard you fullcourt, force the action. You’ll know you were in a game with Burnt Hills at every level.”
Haluska will be starting his third year in charge of the Spartan Junior program in the fall.
“That’s where it all starts,” said Haluska. “We’ll be instilling a lot of new things, but at the same time, we will continue to work on the fundamentals. We’re not going to get away from that.”
Haluska believes players at the various levels will enjoy the fast-paced brand of ball he and the program’s other coaches will be emphasizing.
“Kids don’t want to walk up and down the court. They want it fast. That’s why kids like lacrosse so much,” said the 39-year old.
Haluska said he’s anxious to get started in his increased role with the program. He was named Burnt Hills’ varsity coach near the end of the last school year, and replaces Gary Bynon.
“I’m ready to go. I’d start practicing right now if I could,” said the former graduate assistant at The College of Saint Rose and junior varsity coach at Catholic Central High School. “I love to work with kids. It’s what I do best.”
Burnt Hills will have two of its top three scorers back from last season’s varsity in Austin Nydegger and David Wellington. The Spartans went 6-10 in the Suburban Council and 7-12 overall.
“I’m not predicting a Suburban Council championship in my first year, but we will compete,” said Haluska.
Shell’s 100th a classic
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake had a touchdown called back and twice came up empty inside the five in regulation, and came away with nothing on two field-goal attempts and a two-point try in overtime.
The reigning state champion Spartans also fumbled the ball on 10 occasions, and lost it twice.
They still found a way to win Friday night’s Class A football game in the rain at Troy, 18-12, in what was coach Matt Shell’s 100th victory with the program.
“The resiliency of the kids is what stands out. The bottom line is the kids believed, and they showed what you can do if you believe in something,” Shell said. “We had our backs to the ball so many times.”
Paul Krowel blocked an extra point to keep the game tied at
12-12 in the third overtime, and in the fourth, Krowel recovered a Troy fumble just before Josh Quesada raced 20 yards to end a game that Shell described as a classic.
“The effort on both sides was unbelievable. It was one of those games. We had chances, they had chances,” he said. “We’d move the ball and their defense made big plays, then it went the other way.”
Quesada broke the final deadlock with his run to the end zone, which was part of the senior’s 18-carry, 188-yard effort.
“A couple of Troy players came up on him. I don’t know how he got out of it,” said Shell. “He makes moves that can’t be taught.”
Danny Maynard threw a touchdown pass in the third overtime for BH-BL and Joe Germinerio countered for the Flying Horses to tie the game at 12-12. The Spartans were short on a two-point conversion run, and Troy’s chance to prevail was dashed on Krowel’s block.
Krowel set the stage afterward for Quesada when he pounced on Germinerio’s fumble.
“He [Krowel] was the defensive MVP of the state championship game,” said Shell. “He makes plays.”
Burnt Hills had a chance to break a 6-6 fourth-quarter tie after David Newell’s seven-yard touchdown run, but a high snap on the extra point left Maynard scrambling, and he was tackled.
“Before the second half I told my guys you are going to face challenges your whole life. It’s how you react to them,” Shell said. “You can come out on top or turn and walk away. They would not give up.”
Shell improved to 100-23 since taking the BH-BL coaching position in 2002, and has led the Spartans to six Section II Class A titles to go with the 2012 state crown. None of his teams had ever played an overtime game before Friday.
What they’re doing
Baseball honors are piling up for J.P. Sportman of Schenectady.
The second baseman, who helped the Keene Swamp Bats win division and overall championships in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, was selected the circuit’s Rick Ligi Most Valuable Player.
Sportman batted .340 with 31 RBI, 13 doubles and four home runs in 40 regular-season games for the Western Division winners. In the NECBL all-star game, he doubled home his team’s only run in a 2-1 loss.
Sportman has been named first or second-team All-Northeast Conference in each of his three seasons at Central Connecticut State. He was tabbed a Big 10 first-team all-star twice while playing for LaSalle Institute, and was named a Colonial Council first-team all-star as a sophomore while attending Schalmont.