Saturday, January 16, 2010

Roth elevates her game for Wildcats; MH boys rebound against Taconic Hills

Katie Roth takes a break during a break in Saturday's Patroon Conference game against Taconic Hills at the College of Saint Rose. Nursing a small cut on her chin, she's modeling a band-aid. Roth, a junior center, is averaging a double-double (17 points and 12 rebounds) so far this season for the No. 1 ranked Class C team in the Empire State. (Photos by Tom Killips - The Record).

Like many children in the Castleton area, Katie Roth got her start on the hardwood in the Sacred Heart CYO program, which has turned out to be a wonderful feeder program for both the boys and girls teams at the high school level. It was a little bit of peer pressure and a hint from mom that pushed Roth off the soccer pitch and onto the basketball court.

“I started playing in fourth grade,” Roth said. “All my friends got me into it and my mom kind of got me into it, too. She said, ‘You’re tall, you’ll be great!”

Now a 6-foot-2 center, Roth is a one-girl wrecking crew in the Patroon Conference, unstoppable on the boards and a big target for passes from teammates perched around the perimeter. She scored 22 points in a 53-33 victory over Taconic Hills Saturday in the Patroon's second annual Coaches vs. Cancer event at Saint Rose.

A well-rounded athlete, Roth also plays volleyball and competes in track and field for the Wildcats, but spends the majority of her basketball offseason competing with an AAU team. On that team, she mixes in a little bit of guard play, which has dramatically improved her ball-handling skills and also expanded her knowledge of the game.

“It helps me realize what the other people on the team are doing, especially here at school, where I don’t get a chance to play guard at all,” Roth said. “So I know what Jess (Dailey) and Erin (Mosher) have to go through. It’s fun, it’s new, it’s different to do something like that. Definitely playing over the summer with AAU and playing guard a little bit has helped my dribbling skills, my shooting skills and getting out on people a little bit, playing ball defense. It’s been really helpful.”

Roth has scored 691 points in her two-and-a-half year varsity career, with the school record sitting about 300 points away. She could potentially reach that milestone next year, but Roth and the Wildcats are looking to move on to the regional round of the Class C postseason after losing in the Class CC/C playoff game two seasons in a row.

"Coach (Mark) Bubniak is always saying, 'You know, girls, you have to work hard in practice to get better. You have to come on the court to be ready and we have to work harder in practice so that when it comes times for sectionals, we can get to where we want to get," Roth said.
"So, pretty much everyone has the mentality that practice is where we’re going to get better and you have to push the other people you’re playing against. You don’t be nice and be everyone’s friend, but you have to make each other better."

Read more about Maple Hill's junior center in Sunday's edition of The Record.

Katie Roth leaps for a shot attempt over the reach of Taconic Hills' Emma Gryner (22) during Saturday's game at the College of Saint Rose.

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The Maple Hill boys followed with a 70-36 victory over Taconic Hills. One notable fact from the afternoon: every single varsity player in the Maple Hill program scored at least two points Saturday. All nine of the girls registered on the scoreboard and a late bucket from Gabe Stockman meant all 11 of the Maple Hill boys scored, too.

It was a nice rebound victory for the Wildcats, who had lost to Ichabod Crane Thursday night in a battle of the two remaining Patroon Conference unbeatens. Head coach Scott Hanrahan also made a little homecoming - he played at Saint Rose in the late 1980s and won a NAIA district championship with the Golden Knights during the 1988-89 season. His number might not hang from the rafters, but he did make a point to show his team the picture of the '88-89 Saint Rose team in the college's Athletic Hall of Fame.

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Just like it did for Katie Roth, AAU has also impacted the boys team. Seniors Chris Despart and David Briggs played 50-plus games this summer and traveled to the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

They may have been dunked on a handful of times by Division I prospects, but the experience gave the Maple Hill duo a great deal of experience...and plenty of stories to tell their teammates.

Maple Hill senior Chris Despart drives to the hoop in a Dec. 2009 game against Cairo-Durham. (Photo by Mike McMahon - The Record).

Senior center Sean Danaher takes care of business in the paint and point guard Dominic Prinzo controls the Wildcats offense, but Briggs and Despart are unselfish players who help their teammates in any way they need to, depending on the situation. Both can score and both can be lockdown defenders. It's the little things they do every game that really determine whether the Wildcats are going to play their best or whether they'll struggle.

"I depend on them to do a lot, and I depend on the rest of seniors, too," said Hanrahan. "These guys have been playing basketball together for a long time. They got to play down in Disney this summer against some of the best players in the country. They played against Division I recruits, It’s good for them because they immersed themselves in the sport. I think you can see in the way that they play every day. I’m fortunate to be able to coach them and see what they bring to us every day."

Maple Hill senior David Briggs eludes the defense during a Dec. 2009 game against Cairo-Durham. (Photo by Mike McMahon - The Record).

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