Shenendehowa girls’ basketball players ready for ‘Battle of New York’

Cam Tooley is shown during a Shenendehowa girls' basketball program workout Thursday, July 14, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Cam Tooley is shown during a Shenendehowa girls' basketball program workout Thursday, July 14, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

CLIFTON PARK — To close the month, members of the Shenendehowa girls’ basketball team will go to battle.

That is, the “Battle of New York.”

That’s the name of the team camp varsity head coach Joe Murphy has put together, an 18-team tournament in which the program’s top players will compete. Played in the gymnasiums at Shenendehowa High School’s East building, the tournament starts July 29 with a game between teams from Amsterdam and Colonie, and concludes Aug. 1 with playoff rounds.

Other local high school teams in the tournament include Averill Park, Bethlehem and Holy Names, while the Saratoga Sparks, an AAU program, will also field a squad. From outside the Capital Region, state powerhouses from New Hampshire and Vermont are amongst the field’s entries.

“So we have a lot of strong teams coming in for it,” Murphy said.

Alex Tudor, left, goes in for a layup next to Simone Walker during a Shenendehowa girls' basketball program workout Thursday, July 14, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Alex Tudor, left, goes in for a layup next to Simone Walker during a Shenendehowa girls’ basketball program workout Thursday, July 14, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Shenendehowa sent a squad to an elite team camp last summer in Maryland. Impressed with the level of play and the opportunity such an outing offered his team, Murphy said he started formulating this year’s Battle of New York tournament late last summer.

“We wanted to start something like that around here,” Murphy said.  

Shenendehowa conducted open gym sessions from July 11-15 and sent a couple dozen of its players to a July 16-17 team camp in New Paltz. Younger players in the program have also been playing together in a summer league at Colonie.

“It’s good for us to start to get together like this and see what it will be like for us next season,” said Cam Tooley, a rising junior guard. “We know we have to work a lot harder.”

Julia Zachgo dribbles toward the basket during a Shenendehowa girls' basketball program workout Thursday, July 14, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Julia Zachgo dribbles toward the basket during a Shenendehowa girls’ basketball program workout Thursday, July 14, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Shenendehowa’s varsity team graduated eight players from last season. Amongst those players were four starters — including Carly Boland, the program’s fourth-leading all-time scorer.

“It’s been a lot different. A lot of great players — great people — graduated and it’s been different not having them here,” said Alex Tudor, another rising junior guard. “But it’s been good to see our new kids play because we have a lot of younger talent here.”

AAU schedules have taken Shenendehowa’s top players around the country this summer, leaving the Battle of New York as one of the few summer events where Murphy expects to be able to bring together all his top players.

“It’s going to be good for us to start to get to know how to all play with each other there,” Tooley said.

Claire Flannery, left, is shown with varsity head coach Joe Murphy during a Shenendehowa girls' basketball program workout Thursday, July 14, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Claire Flannery, left, is shown with varsity head coach Joe Murphy during a Shenendehowa girls’ basketball program workout Thursday, July 14, 2016 in Clifton Park. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

In pool play, Shenendehowa will play games against Holy Names, South Jefferson, Williamsville South and Mercy. For the Aug. 1 playoff rounds, Shenendehowa could play up to three games depending on how it fares.

“There should be a lot of great competition there to help us get ready for next season,” Tudor said.

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.