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Girmindl's Ghost

A diary of Shaker High School's 2005-2006 basketball season, a retelling of Shaker's fabled 1979-1980 season, and general commentary on high school hoops, updated daily...

"I like sitting in the back row. I found that sitting against the wall is just easier on your back." -Dean Smith, on the comfort of the H-gym bleachers

Game Recap: 12/20/21

Game Recap: Home vs. Averill Park, 12/20/05

Executive Summary: A 61-57 OT loss. In some ways, a bad loss. Shaker was up 8 after the first quarter (18-10), up 8 at the half (36-28), and up 5 with a little more than 2 minutes to go. It just got away from them at the end and in overtime. On the other hand, I don't want to say they didn't play well. They did. Brad was virtually unstoppable tonight - his post moves were great, he was perfect from the foul line, and he was stroking his 15'-18' jumper. The rest of the team played very well, too. The guards took care of the ball, the passing and shooting was good, and the defense was solid. Put it this way: if they had won the game, we would be talking about how well they played. It was that kind of loss. Still, it hurts. Averill Park is a good team, but I still think if these team played 10 times, Shaker would win 7 or 8. But give AP credit - they played very well. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night is that - for various reasons - it was a very low intensity crowd in the stands, even in the 4th and OT. The 6th man barely showed up. Final score: Averill Park 61, Shaker 57 (OT). TU box score here. Shaker drops to 5-1 (3-1 Suburban Council). Next game: Thursday night at Burnt Hills.

Full Report, Clash of the suburban titans (but where's the noise?) : Got to Shaker with SJC around 7:15 for a 7:30 start.** Had a nice chat with Coach Dopp, and we took our seats in the Shaker adult section. As the players came out to warm up, I surveyed the scene. A good sized crowd for a Tuesday game. The Shaker adult section is 3/4 full, the student section is 3/4 full, the adult Averill Park section is more than 1/2 full, and there's a smattering of people in the 4th section. Nice. Both Averill Park and Shaker look very crisp in warmups. I mention to SJC that I think this should be a very good game. AP is currently ranked in the Class A top 20 and Shaker in the Class AA top 20, but it's never clear how to compare teams in different classes.

Strangely, the 6th man section of the student bleachers looks pretty thin. As it turns out, the 6th man was depleted by the Christmas concert down the hall, illness, and several week-long suspension from games for previously inappropriate cheers. And for the whole game - particualarly for the 1st half - the 6th man was very weak. Go figure, the same day I publish an interview singing their praises, they barely show up for the game. - no painted chests, no signs, and no real energy. If you read my column yesterday and then went to the game, you probably think I'm a lunatic. I even got an apology email last night from a few of them. So no, I'm not living in some fantasy world where a dozen kids doing weak cheers is somehow special. Last night was an abbertation.

It was also symbolic of a greater phenomenon I have often noticed at Shaker games and definitely noticed last nigt: sometimes the crowd is just flat on Tuesday night, with no real explanation. This was one of those nights. It wasn't just the 6th man, it was everyone. The stars were aligned for a huge, enthusiastic crowd; after all, these were the only two unbeaten teams left in the Suburban Council. But the crowd never really got going. The Times Union article said there was a "playoff energy" last night, but that was strictly on the court. Even in the overtime, you never got near the crowd participation that we have seen in the first four home games this years.**

I didn't keep score by hand last night. Usually that's not too big a deal, since my memory is pretty good and I can use the box score to help me reconstruct the game. Unfortunately, neither the paper TU or the online edition has the box score this morning, so i'm kinda rowing without a paddle in this recap. Bear with me. UPDATE: The box score is in! Accurate totals now appear in the column.

1st Quarter

The 1st quarter put me in a good mood. It looked like Shaker was going to out muscle AP and win this one convincingly. Brad won the opening tip, but Shaker turned the ball over before they took a shot. The teams traded missed hoops, and then John Hans nailed a 3-pointer to give Shaker the lead, which they would never relinquish until the overtime. And boy was Brad hot tonight - after rimming out his first two attempts from the post, he settled down and began knocking shots down from everywhere. Easy baskets in the lane, short stuff in the paint, and a flurry of 15'-18' jumpers that found that bottom of the net. And he was perfect from the foul line. And the defense looked solid - Averill Park wasn't getting a whole lot on offense.

In fact, the only thing keeping AP in the game was there foul shooting - I think they were perfect from the line in the 1st half. But AP was also racking up their own fouls, however, and I thought Shaker would get to the bonus early. At the end of the quarter it was 18-10 Shaker, and things were looking good. But boy was it quiet in that gym. Felt like about 1995. No energy whatsoever. And boy were the refs calling this game tight. AP's guards were picking up fouls at an alarming rate on really touchy stuff, but I wasn't complaining.

2nd Quarter

The second quarter played pretty even, and that disappointed me. I really thought they might run away with this one, something like a 38-23 halftime lead or something, but it wasn't going to happen. Brad continued his hot play - he had 16 points in the first half and a nice dunk midway through the 2nd quarter - but Averill Park picked up it's offensive game. About midway through the quarter, Shaker switched to a 2-3 zone, and that seemed to give AP fits for a while. And Shaker's key reserves - Hooks, E. Cross, Dare, and Fallon - looked good as a unit when they were in for a while in the 1st half. If the 1st quarter was Shaker domination, the 2nd quarter was an even match based on poor execution by the Bison. The turnovers came back and the shooting went a bit cold. (Sorry for the lack of detail here, I don't remember a whole lot of 2nd quarter specifics).

The score at halftime was 36-28, but it felt like Shaker was in control. I headed out in the hallway to get on line for a Twix, stopping to chat with Erik Elkin at the scorer's table, who gave me the low down on where the 6th man disappeared to. I had initial suspected massive school crackdown, but it was much more mundane than that. Ahhh, yes. The holiday concert. Illness. A few suspensions. Typical.

3rd Quarter

The second half was basically a disaster for the Shaker offense. 10 points in the 3rd, 7 in the 4th, and just 4 in overtime. The third quarter was when the wheels came off, in my opinion. And it wasn't that Shaker played all that bad. They didn't. But three key things happened. First, AP came alive on offense. That's not to say that they scored much more than they did in the first half - they didn't. But they started to really work the ball around and get good shots. And the ball spent a lot more time down at our hoop. Whereas in the 1st half they were staying alive through perfect foul shooting, in the 3rd quarter they started making their shots, getting some rebounds, and really working the Shaker defense. Luckily, their foul shooting went cold or Shaker might have fallen behind.

Second, the AP defense really started pressuring Shaker's guards. That must have been a halftime adjustiment. Entry passes to Brad became much more difficult, and Hans was forced to either drive by his defender or expend a whole lot of energy possesing the ball in the front court. Either way, AP got what it wanted - a more up tempo game when Shaker was on offense that kept Shaker from methodically feeding the ball inside for easy baskets. The only silver lining for Shaker was that AP was racking up fouls at an alarming rate - Shaker was in the bonus with minutes left on the clock in the 3rd quarter. I'm still shocked this morning that no one on AP fouled out of the game. It seemed like they were picking up a foul - particularly their guards - every minute or so.

Third, Shaker just went dead from the field. After scoring only 17 points in the second half, it's amazing they didn't get run out of the building. But that's a testament to how well the Shaker defense held up. AP only managed 25 point in the half themselves.

AP put a run on that eventually reduced the Shaker lead to 39-38, but then Shaker went on a 7-0 run to get back their halftime cushion. Brad made a few jumpers, they used some nifty interior passing to an easy hoop, and Hooks made a great turn around move on the baseline to shake off a defender, one of the nicer plays I've seen all year. Duclos suffered what looked like an ankle sprain at one point, but later returned to action.

Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of last night was the AP coach. Not a bad guy, but jesus, mary, and joseph was he animated. Kinda reminded me of a young Rollie Masimino from Villanova crossed with a young Jim Valvano from NC State. He was constantly mortified by the referees calls, and he was just over-the-top enthusiastic with his players. Kept me entertained, but I think it annoyed a lot of fans.

The 4th quarter ended 46-41 Shaker, and I was still optimistic about the final outcome.

4th Quarter

The 4th quarter was frustrating. That's the only way to describe it. The crowd finally picked up a bit. But both teams were sluggish on the court. I guess a better way to put it is that the defense took over. I'm sure AP fans can point to many, many opportunities gone untaken. And that's definitely how I felt. Rimmed out shots, missed free throws, silly calls by the ref, passes gone bad. Still, the Bison looked like they were going to eek this one out. After trading just a few baskets over the first 4 minutes of the quarter, AP hit a couple in a row to pull within 1. Timeout. Oh god, here we go.

But then all of a sudden Shaker was back up by 5 and there was only about 2:30 on the clock. Things looked good. AP hit a 3 pointer, but Shaker had the ball and there was only 45 seconds on the clock. A furious possession occured, with multiple timeouts by Shaker and intense AP defense. They ran the shot clock all the way down and ultimately got a decent 3-point attempt from Hooks as it expired, but the shot just rimmed off. It was that close. It was that kind of night. Timeout AP. 21 seconds to play. Shaker up 2. AP brought the ball down the floor, and the Shaker defense looked good. 15 seconds. They're moving it around. God, just don't hit a three. 10 seconds left. Still moving the ball around, a near steal by Vernon. 5 seconds left. C'mon. A an open shot from about 12 feet just off the lane. And it's good. Damn. Timeout shaker. A desperation heave by Brad falls short, and we're headed to overtime tied at 54.


Shaker win the tip. Hans is fouled in the frontcourt, and since Shaker is in the double bonus, he's shooting two. Makes one. 55-54 Shaker. AP comes down and gets a gimmie basket in the lane, but Shaker comes back and gest a putback basket in the lane. AP ties it on a foul shot, and then both teams miss on their next possession, then AP gets a and there's less than a minute to go. Game tied at 57. AP works the ball around and then makes a tough shot in the lane. Damn. Shaker turns it over, and has to foul. But AP's not in the bonus yet, so they waste 10 seconds getting 2 fouls. AP misses the foul shot, rebound and timeout Shaker. 18 seconds to go.

Looks alot like the CBA game, excpet no, everything is different. The crowd isn't really standing, and Shaker's down 2, not 1. And it's overtime. And I don't feel too good about this. After an inbounds and a timeout, there's 11 seconds to go. They get the ball into Brad near the top of the key, who dishes it to Hans, who puts up a three. My thought process from the inbounds and the following 6 seconds:

C'mon, get it inside. Let's get Brad to the line. He hasn't missed there tonight. Ok, yup, get it in. C'mon buddy. One more time. Flip to Hans? Ok. That works too. Wow, he's open. And yup, he's going to shoot it. Please drop. Wow, that looks pretty good, c'mon. This would be a great ending. It's close, it's close. Ugggghhh. Get that board. Uggggh.


AP made both it's free throws with 3 seconds left, and that ended it. Too bad. 61-57. Brad finished with 29, but without the box score I couldn't tell you the breakdown of the rest of the team scoring. I would guess something like this: Hans 8, Duclos 6, Griff 8, V. Cross 4, E. Cross 2. UPDATE: Turns out my guess wasn't all that bad: the totals were actually: Hans 10 Duclos 7 Griff 5, V. Cross 5, Dare 2.

Summary and notes

As far as the basketball goes, as enjoyable game as I've been to since...well, since the CBA game. But a very good game. Crowd was pathetic, but that happens. AP is a good team, this isn't a huge upset, but I still think Shaker is a somewaht better team.

I got an email from one of the 6th men leaders, Joe B., before I even got home last night. I think he summed up the game (and the crowd) perfectly:
I'd like to explain the lack of a 6th man at the Averill Park game. Many of the people weren't there in the first half. The school scheduleda concert for the night of the game, and that's where i was for the first half. Others, as you know, were suspended, and on top of that, we (the fans I mean) just sucked tonight. Should have been better and it wasn't. All in all, Shaker played well, and if one basket drops there in those final two minutes, we're singing their praises right now. Sometimes the ball just won't drop.
That's exactly right, in my opinion. And maybe (probably?) we'll get another crack at AP in the suburban council tourney.

Final score: Averill Park 61, Shaker 57. TU box score here. Shaker drops to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the Suburban Council.

Next Game: Thursday night at Burnt Hills.

**Actually, that's not true. The TU listed the game last night as a 6:30 game, both in the newspaper and the online edition. Not wanting to take any chances, we got over to Shaker around 6:15 just to make sure. Of course, it was a 7:30 game, so we went home and had dinner. Thank god we only live a mile from the school. Our second arrival was at 7:15. Head back to the text.

***At one point late in the overtime, the crowd was so inexplicably quiet (given the situation) that I observed Mr. Sheehan stand up and begin urging the crowd to get up and make some noise. It didn't work. It was just one of those kind of Tuesday nights. The only people making significant constant noise were the 7th grade boys sitting at the top of the Shaker adult section. That's usually amusing - you can see the future student section before your eyes - but last night it was sad, since they were the ones doing the most cheering. Head back to the text.
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