BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — The Shenendehowa girls basketball team’s prize for completing a one-loss regular season, winning the Suburban Council title, and earning the No. 1 seed for the Section II Class AA postseason tournament?
An unbearable break of nearly three full weeks before its next game.
“It’s frustrating to come to practice all the time and have no games,” said junior guard Carly Boland at a recent practice.
“We get so hyped in practice and we usually transfer that to games, so it’s hard to keep coming in here and not see an opponent because we love to win,” she continued. “We’re competitors.”
The Plainsmen were granted the postseason’s No. 1 seed Wednesday — eight days after their final game of the regular season, an 81-46 win against rival Shaker to clinch the league title. Now, Shenendehowa is next scheduled to compete when it plays host to a 7:30 p.m. contest March 2 against either Ballston Spa or Guilderland — 20 days after its regular-season finale.
“It’s weird because we usually play twice a week,” said Shenendehowa freshman guard Alexandra Tudor. “We’re practicing and scrimmaging against people right now, but we really want to get out there and play.”
When the Plainsmen do hit the floor for the sectional quarterfinals, the squad will be three wins away from defending the Section II championship it won a year ago. League foes Bethlehem and Shaker are the Nos. 2 and 4 seeds in the tournament, while No. 3 Albany is the other serious contender in Class AA. If Shenendehowa wins its March 2 game, it will likely play Shaker or No. 5 Columbia in the March 5 semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College. The classification’s championship game takes place March 10 at the Times Union Center in Albany.
Shenendehowa head coach Joe Murphy was able to schedule three scrimmages for the Plainsmen — ranked No. 4 in the latest state poll — during their hiatus from live game action. The coach also was able to give his players several days off from practice to let their bodies recover from their first 19 games, while some practice sessions were used in their entirety for intrasquad scrimmaging. The losing team in each quarter from those scrimmages owed Murphy a sprint
“And, this is such a competitive group, so they get into it pretty good,” Murphy said.
The break from games has allowed the Plainsmen to work on some finer points, tweaking their defenses and polishing several offensive sets. Anxious, Boland said, is one way to describe her squad right now, but there is also a healthy dose of excitement as the Plainsmen’s title defense hits this crucial stretch.
“We just want to get out there,” she said. “We won it last year and we know that feeling — and we want that feeling again.”