Friday, January 15, 2010

If the season ended today: girls basketball

We've reached the halfway point in the regular season, so it's time to take a minute and assess how the season has played out so far and what we can expect leading up to the playoffs.

The standings below were updated on Friday, Jan. 15.

Big 10
Team, League, Overall
Albany, 6-0, 7-3
Catholic Central, 5-1, 6-4
Amsterdam, 4-2, 5-3
B. Maginn, 3-2, 6-3
Schenectady, 2-4, 3-8
Troy, 1-5, 2-9
B. Gibbons, 0-7, 0-11

Albany is the only unbeaten team in the league so far, but the Lady Falcons have had some close calls, including an overtime victory at Catholic Central in December.

The Albany team has a distinct advantage over many teams because of their conditioning. The team features a bunch of cross country runners and they seem to get sharper on the court as the game goes along.

It's not inconceivable that Catholic Central could run the table, win the rematch in Albany and grab the regular season title away if Albany falters against Amsterdam or Bishop Maginn in the next four weeks.

Still, Albany and CCHS did not fare well against Averill Park and Colonie in the Suburban/Big 10 Challenge at Colonie in late December, which can't give the Big 10 an overly positive outlook heading into sectionals. Granted, Averill Park and Colonie are two of the area's top teams in any class, but it's hard to see either Albany or CCHS making a push in the Class AA tournament, at least if they play the way they've played up to this point.

Suburban Council
North Division
Team, League, Overall
Shenendehowa (6, AA), 7-1, 7-1
Shaker, 6-2, 8-2
Saratoga Springs, 4-4, 6-4
Ballston Spa, 1-7, 1-9
Burnt Hills, 1-7, 2-8
Niskayuna, 1-7, 2-7

South Division

Averill Park (1, A), 8-0, 10-0
Colonie (9, AA), 7-1, 9-1
Bethlehem, 5-3, 5-4
Mohonasen (12, A), 5-3, 7-3
Columbia, 2-6, 3-7
Guilderland, 1-7, 2-8

We'll know more about the South Division race after tonight's game between Averill Park and Colonie, but don't forget Bethlehem and Mohonasen (the Mighty Warriors are a Class A team) as legitimate postseason contenders.

Shenendehowa is still rolling strong in the North Division. Shaker, which has lost to Shen and Colonie so far, just doesn't look like it's quite ready to crack the upper echelon of the Suburban. Still, the Blue Bison have great guard play and sophomore centers Lauren Woods and MacKenzie Rowland are a major matchup problem for any team in Class AA.

At this point, it looks like Averill Park has an inside track to the Class A final (against the winner of the Holy Names-Mohonasen semifinal on the other side of the bracket) and Shen and Colonie will battle it out for the Class AA crown.

Colonial Council
Team, League, Overall
Holy Names (3, A), 10-0, 10-0
Watervliet (7, B), 8-2, 8-2
Voorheesville (19, C), 7-3, 7-3
Alb. Acad. Girls, 6-4, 6-4
Cohoes, 5-5, 5-5
Lansingburgh, 5-5, 5-5
Mechanicville, 5-5, 5-5
Ravena, 3-7, 3-7
Schalmont, 1-9, 1-9
Cobleskill, 0-10, 0-10

When the Academy of the Holy Names won its 28th consecutive Colonial Council game against Watervliet on Tuesday, AHN all but locked up another regular season title. It's also hard to see Holy Names losing a game the rest of the way.

However, since AHN plays some Class B and C teams in the Colonial, they aren't guaranteed a No. 2 or even a No. 3 seed, even if they finish the regular season undefeated. A year ago, Mohonasen was No. 1, Averill Park No. 2 and AHN No. 3.

Right now, it looks like AP would be No. 1 and I still believe the committee would reward Mohonasen with the No. 2 because of their victories over Class AA teams. Therefore, we're on track for a AHN-Mohon semifinal battle.

Watervliet will likely be one of the favorites to win the Class B title this year - the Lady Cannoneers are gunning for consecutive Section II title No. 4. Fonda-Fultonville - which will enter the Colonial Council along with Ichabod Crane in 2010-11 - is having another great season in the WAC.

Voorheesville is a tough team, and you can't blame the Blackbirds for losses to bigger schools AHN and 'Vliet. Still, Voorheesville will give teams like Hoosic Valley, Maple Hill and Greenwich a battle in the Class CC/C brackets. Any of those teams could emerge in the playoff at HVCC on March 8.

Wasaren League
Team, League, Overall
Hoosic Valley (5, C), 6-0, 9-1
Greenwich (11, C), 5-1, 9-1
Stillwater, 5-1, 8-2
Schuylerville, 4-2, 5-3
Cambridge, 1-4, 4-4
Granville, 1-4, 1-6
Tamarac, 1-5, 3-7
Hoosick Falls, 0-6, 1-9

Hoosic Valley has won four consecutive Section II championships and although they've replaced their entire starting five from 2008-09, the Indians are right back on top of the Wasaren League thanks to some great defense.

Greenwich, along with sophomore sensation guard Dani DeGregory, can't be counted out, nor can Stillwater or Schuylerville. But are any of these teams (or a combination of them) knocking off Hoosic Valley in the regular season? I could see the Indians losing one game (Greenwich beat them last year) but even with one loss, Hoosic Valley still probably wins the league as Greenwich, Stillwater and Schuylerville knock each other off in a battle for second place.

Patroon Conference
Team, League, Overall
Maple Hill (1, C), 11-0, 11-0
Ichabod Crane 9-2, 9-2
Greenville, 6-3, 6-3
Rensselaer, 7-4, 7-4
Catskill, 6-5, 6-5
Hudson, 4-5, 4-5
Taconic Hills, 4-5, 4-5
Chatham, 1-8, 1-8
Cairo-Durham, 1-9, 1-9
Coxsackie, 1-9, 1-9

Maple Hill can make it an even dozen Saturday at Noon against Taconic Hills at Saint Rose, which would also be their 58th consecutive Patroon Conference victory.

Maple Hill hosts a boys and girls basketball doubleheader against Ichabod Crane on Sat., Jan. 30, which may help decide the conference winners on both sides.

The Wildcats girls, however, are practically unstoppable. Junior center Katie Roth is averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds per game and Jessica Dailey and Kristen DerGurahian provide a three-point shooting threat. They're balanced, they're smart and they play great defense, and with Roth, the Wildcats also have a size advantage many of the Class C teams lack. They should be a major player in the Class C playoffs.

Ichabod Crane will get a shot in the Class A bracket, and like Holy Names, the Riders will get a lower seed than Suburban Council teams with worse records because they play in the Patroon.

Team, League, Overall
Emma Willard 4-0, 5-1
Germantown (8, D), 8-1, 9-1
Waterford, 8-1, 10-1
Heatly, 6-2, 7-3
Berlin, 3-3, 4-4
Loudonville Christian, 3-5, 3-6
New Lebanon, 1-7, 1-9
Doane Stuart, 1-9, 2-9
Hawthorne Valley, 0-6, 0-6

Germantown and Waterford will likely be fighting for the league title right down to the finish, but expect the Clippers to have a better postseason showing in Class D than Waterford, which is in Class C by four students over the Class D cutoff.

The Lady Fordians have some really nice scorers, led by senior guard Jackie Sorensen, but they're going to have a tough time competing against teams like Maple Hill and Hoosic Valley that have plenty of Section II postseason experience.

Don't count out Heatly in Class D - the Hornets are the only team to have defeated Germantown in CHVL action so far.

Still, it should be an exciting race to the top as the CHVL schedule winds down.

*(State ranking, classification)

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