Friday, January 15, 2010

Averill Park rides the bench Friday night, buries Colonie

Averill Park senior guard Lauren Nunziato elevates for a three-point shot during Friday's Suburban Council South Division game against Colonie. Nunziato scored 13 points during Averill Park's 23-0 first half run (they added another 23-0 run later on) as the Lady Warriors posted a 78-38 victory over the No. 9 ranked Class AA team in the Empire State. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Nunziato finished with a game-high 16 points and the Averill Park bench outscored their counterparts from Colonie, 41-19.

"We played really well as a team and stuck together," Nunziato said. "We played really good team defense and we feed off each other's energy. That keeps on the whole game."

Nunziato can sink those shots from behind the three-point stripe, but the Warriors have had to coerce her to take those shots, as she plays Averill Park's unselfish system to a fault.

"She kind of characterizes our team, that we’re so unselfish," said Sean Organ, Averill Park’s head coach. "And she doesn’t realize that her role is to step up and hit those open shots. With Katie (Duma), Michaela (Ottati) and now Lauren out there, they’re tough to defend when we’re on."
Averill Park's Katie Duma tries to get a shot off over the outstretched arms of Colonie's Tehresa Coles (25). In a duel between two of the best players in the league, Duma scored 11 points on a trio of three-point baskets and Coles ran into early foul trouble and was limited to four points.

Coles collected two fouls in the first five minutes of the game and quickly was stuck to the bench, just at the same time that Lauren Nunziato emerged as the Warriors' hot shooter. Coles, a junior guard, may be a star at a major college someday, but Averill Park took her out of a big-time Suburban Council contest Friday night.

"(Coles) is the heart and soul of that team," Organ said. "She is a tremendous player and she may very well be the best player in the Suburban Council. She’s a Division I prospect."

Averill Park's Amanda Fitzgerald fights for a loose ball against Colonie's Jaclyn Welch (33). Fitzgerald scored nine points and made four assists filling in for Brittany O'Shea at the point guard position.

Heading into Friday’s game, Averill Park was beating opponents by an average final score of 60.2-35.1. The victory over Colonie was the fourth time they had eclipsed the 70-point mark.

"We’re deep," said Organ. "We use our depth to our advantage. Our game plan is simple. We want to bring as many players at you that we can to wear you out."

Friday was Organ's 32nd birthday. His players presented him a cake after the game.

Averill Park sophomore forward Brooke O'Shea prepares to leap for a lay-up in front of Colonie's Ashley Loggins (5) during Friday's game. O'Shea finished with 11 points and four steals.

The Averill Park student section broke out their "O'Shea, O'Shea, O'Shea, O'Shea" chant (you know that soccer Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole chant?) after a long pass from Brooke to her older sister Brittany at one point in the game. And really, the Averill Park fans were an intimidating sixth man during the game.

Averill Park lowered both sets of bleachers for only the second time this season (the other was against Rensselaer County rival Columbia High) and they sure needed all the seating they could get for what turned out to be a full house.

The cheerleaders were there, the band was there and unfortunately, a few guys decided to paint themselves yellow and blue...but everyone understood their sentiments.

Other than the Schenectady boys at CBA, this was the best crowd I've seen all year for basketball, boys or girls. As long as the Averill Park fans can keep it up, they can really rattle road teams.

"I think our student body is beginning to realize that we could have a special season in the making and they’re starting to jump on the bandwagon," Organ said. "They did a great job for us tonight."

For more on Averill Park, check out Saturday's edition of The Record.

Our Ryan Kircher was at Albany High to watch La Salle squeak out a one-point victory, their second buzzer-beater in a row, with a 50-49 triumph over the Falcons.

Josh Terry buried a three-pointer with 0.4 seconds to play, playing the hero for the Cadets, who at 4-5, are just one game below .500 in the Big 10 Conference standings.

"It was a good pass from my teammate," Terry said. "He was looking for me in the corner and I told him I'd be there. It was a good play everyone just swung it around and it just fell into place."

For more on the La Salle-Albany game, check out Saturday's edition of The Record.

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