Girls' Sectional Basketball: Players' late arrival boosts Sabres, Bills
Once their fall athletes made the full transition, the season has gone well for both the Schalmont and Johnstown girls’ basketball teams.
“Every year, it seems our girls’ soccer team goes to the state tournament,” said Schalmont coach Jeff VanHoesen. “It’s great for them, and I’m happy for them, but we don’t get them until they’re done.”
Tim Derwin is in the same situation at Johnstown, where he waits for the volleyball and field hockey teams to finish annual deep runs into the postseason.
“I’ve got four volleyball players and a field hockey player, and they always seem to be in the sectional finals or more,” he said. “The volleyball players, it’s a longer transition for them, because the cardio is different.”
Both the Lady Sabres (the fourth seed) and Lady Bills (the No. 3 seed) played well enough to earn projected semifinal spots in the Class B tournament. Both teams open sectional play Wednesday with home games.
“Once we got them all on the court and playing together, they started to play well,” said Derwin, whose team won six straight Foothills Council games before dropping its last two to league champ Queensbury and runner-up Glens Falls, both Class A schools. “They had to get out of that fall sport, and get time on the basketball court.”
VanHoesen knows the feeling, as he waited for the soccer players to finish their season in early November, one week before the first day of practice for the winter season.
“You start out waiting for half of your team to get in enough practices, and then it takes a while for everything to sort out,” he said.
Both coaches knew what they were waiting for.
Hope Cerasulo came off a field hockey season and is the Lady Bills’ leading scorer. Annie Stock, Brianna O’Rourke, Alyssa Nellis and Morgan Catania all were on the volleyball that lost in the state finals.
Hailee Metzold, Maddie Saccocio, Ryanne Olsen and Rachel Strijek all came off a Section II soccer championship team and are starting or play significant minutes for VanHoesen.
“You know you’re getting players with experience in championship games,” said Derwin, whose team finished the regular season 12-6. “Hope has been our best player. She averages 16 points a game, and I can always count on her for 14 to 18 points each game.”
Cerasulo was named to the league’s all-star team. She’s one of seven seniors Derwin is counting on.
“It’s their senior season, and you know they don’t want it to end,” he said. “They’ve been very focused down the stretch. It’s easy to look ahead, but they know, especially with the number of big games they’ve played in other sports, that you can’t take anything for granted,”
Metzold and Olsen are Schalmont’s top two scorers, with Strijek fourth.
Saccocio, a guard, isn’t a big scorer, but she has her moments.
“Our second game against Amsterdam, Maddie stepped up in overtime and helped us win,” said VanHoesen.
Schalmont went 11-5 in the Colonial Council, and is 11-7 overall. Two of the losses were to Class A schools — league rival Holy Names and Amsterdam. Schalmont split two games with the Big 10 team.
“I’d like to schedule more games with Class A teams, but we’re limited to two non-league games by our [16-game] league schedule,” VanHoesen said. “They really help.”
Schalmont won six of its last eight league games, which VanHoesen hopes is a good omen for the postseason.
“This team is playing well late in the season,” he said. “Last year, I think we jelled a little quicker.”