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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: 1/27/06

Game Recap: Away vs. Bethlehem, 1/27/06

Executive Summary: Shaker 53, Mohonason 42. One of those games where the Bison seemed totally in control, but could never pull away and make it a blowout. Shaker definitely had much more talent, and that's good because they didn't play their best game. They didn't play bad...the best word for it might be sluggish. There was really only one scare - Bethlehem scored the first 7 points of the 4th to cut the lead to 44-37 and got as close as 46-42. Shaker then scored the last 8 points to win. Bethlehem spent most of the game is some sort of modified 2-3 matchup zone, and literally tripled Brad whenever Shaker looked his way, which frustrated his inside efforts most of the night. Luckily, Shaker's other scorer's responded - Hooks made three big 3-pointers - and the Bison got the win. Brad finished with 17 points and 12 boards, and EC added 8. Stempsey had a nice game for Bethelehm, although I expected him to be better - he doesn't really dominate. Also, the reffing was atrocious. Final score: Shaker 53, Bethlehem 42. TU box score here. Shaker improves to 13-3 (11-1 Suburban Council). Next game: 1/31/06, home against Shen.

Full Report, "I hate visiting senior nights": Arrived at Sage College - remember that Bethlehem's gym is down for the count right now - around 7:00 for a 7:30 tip, and had SJC and my mom in tow. What a crappy little gym. It reminded me of Shaker's old gym or the junior high gym, except somewhat bigger: the bleachers are literally 2 feet from the court, the bench players have to sit in the first row of bleachers, there's almost zero room out of bounds behind the hoops, and the bleachers have no aisles, meaning people sit everywhere and you can't get up or down well. On the other hand, the speaker system is still 15 times better than the one in the H-gym new gym. Nice. Other notes from the pre-game:

1) A decent crowd: One nice thing about a tiny, crappy gym is that you almost automatically fill the place up. That's definitely fun. Of course, part of the reason it was full was that it was...

2) Senior night at BHS: I'll be honest with you. There's nothing worse than going to a senior night on the road. You have to listen to these dumb little speeches about kids you've never heard of and it just takes forever. Chuck has played modified, JV, and varsity for two year. He's also the class treasurer. Next year he's going to Plattsburgh and wants to study crminal justice. Double-forever at Bethlehem because they also do senior night for the cheerleaders. Jill is looking forward to studying automotive technology at HVCC and then she wants to open her own garage. And no, I didn't make that up. Took like 20 minutes. I thought we might avoid it this season because our last two games are at home. But I guess we were unlucky. The only good news is that Bethlehem's best players are underclassmen, so maybe we can blow them out of the water when they start all the bench seniors for the first few minutes of the game.

3) Where's the 6th man?: Tom Maldonado announced his presence by letting off an enormous 'Gooooooo, Vernon!' as he entered the gym, but few other 6th men were in sight. Maybe 8 people standing during the game. That's too bad, but what I really want to know is...

4) What's with the JV: After they finish their game and get changed, they always come out and sit with their parents, quietly watching the game like they wish they were somewhere else. How about going over and standing with the 6th man and screaming your lungs out, fellas? I just don't understand this. You'd think that the JV team would be the biggest bunch of varsity-loving freaks around, but I guess that's not the case this year. Wasn't Bodgan like #1 superfan last year?

1st Quarter

Shaker started Sheehan, Hans, Duclos, Griff, and E. Cross. Brad won the tip, but Bethlehem scored the first four points of the quarter. Shaker then went on a 9-0 on some nice shooting by EC and Hans. Brad got to the line once and also added a putback basket. Generally, though, Shaker looks a little out of sync attacking Bethlehem's zone. But it's evident that Shaker's talent level is going to be in command toinght: Brad is getting every rebound and on the offensive end they are getting a lot of second chances: nice rebounds by EC, Dare, and Brad lead to baskets. BHS has Stempsey as a counter to Brad in terms of scoring, but they don't seem to have players who can match EC, VC, Duc, and Griff for alternative production. A few bad turnovers cost the Bison baskets - Duc overthrows Eddie on what would have been a sure breakaway layup at one point - but overall they seem in control. Then Bethlehem hits two consecutive three pointers to take the lead 10-9. Shaker comes back on nice hoops by Hans and VC, and the quarter ends 13-10 Shaker.

1st quarter notes:

1) Bethlehem will bomb it: The only way Bethlehem will stay close in this game is by hitting three pointers. And let loose they do. They're like Guilderland. They have no discernable inside game, and their best players are long range shooters.

2)...and their zone is worrisome: Bethlehem definitely forced Shaker to work for their points in the first quarter. They play some sort of modified matchup 2-3 zone - basically, they pressure the ball a bit, collapse everyone on Brad, and dare Shaker to swing the ball around the outside to wide open three point shots or good one-on-one situations across the court from Brad. I can't decide if the Bison are attacking it well. On one hand, they seem to be moving the ball around and getting it to the open men. On the other hand, they also seem to bent on forcing it into Brad, which I'm not necessarily opposed to. I'd like to see their shooters get hot. Brad seems a little frustrated, too, because...

3) No whistles in sight: Shaker got called for zero fouls in the 1st quarter, BHS only two. That's wild because honestly, they could call a foul on every entry pass to Brad in the post. It's getting pretty physical inside, but nothing. Very annoying.

4) Excellent rebounding: Yesterday, I said I was going to watch the defensive rebounding, and it was very good last night. In the first quarter they gave up only one offensive rebound, and even better was that the Bison got forward-looking outlet passes quite a bit and played a nice transition game.

2nd Quarter

An interesting unit in there to start the second: Brad, Hooks, Schaller, Dare, and Kahnle. On his first touch of the game, Hooks drills a three using his patented knuckleball shot. 16-10. Bethlehem's offense isn't doing much at all, and they miss. Hooks hits another three. 19-10. That's it, if he's going to drop those, this thing is over. Still, Bethlehem continues to allow Shaker to shoot wide open looks, sticking to the concept of collapsing in and tripling Brad even before entry passes are thrown. Brad gets to the line on a nice offensive board and foul, but his foul shooting looks a bit off right now. He goes 1 for 2 again and Shaker leads 20-12. EC hits a nice shot and VC makes a nice 1 on 1 move as the teams trade baskets. Griff picks up 2 fouls - one a silly foul on him the other a silly call by the ref - and he heads to the bench for the rest of the half. Hooks finally misses a three and Shaker goes a bit stagnant. 24-18 Shaker. They run off the last 4 points of the quarter to take a 28-18 halftime lead, winning the second 15-8.

Second quarter notes:

1) Nice job, but it could have been better: Definitely one of those times where you feel like they are playing pretty well, but you also know that they could easily be up 20 without some little mistakes and with a few more shots dropping. You can't say they aren't getting the job done - heck, they're up 10 - but it's also obvious that they aren't executing all that well. Part of it is the frustration of the BHS defense - Brad only has 6 points - and part of it is not knocking down some open shots. I wonder if Holmes was happy or mad in the locker room? It was that kind of half.

2)Hooks sure makes you dream: Watching Hooks effortlessly knock down those two threes really gets your mind wandering toward the sectional title and the state tournament. Shaker's offense is simply unstoppable if those shots are going in. It just gives the Bison way too much inside-outside firepower. If teams choose to double or triple Brad like BHS did last night, it's actually pretty crucial that those shots go in. And it's just great to see Hooks knocking them down. I really think his confidence is back to stay.

3) The 6th man has given up: They tried a few "De-fense!" chants, but the criticala mass isn't there. So they sat down. That's fine. Meanwhile, the BHS 6th man - about 15 boys or so - is having a field day screaming stuff at Shaker's foul shooters, although they haven't started a single chant yet. It's a tough sell when you're down a dozen points and your record is 5-9. But they make the effort.

Shaker's scoring looked like this at the break:

Brad 2 2 6
EC 2 2 6
JH 3 0 6
VC 2 0 4
Hooks 2 0 6 (2 three pointers)

Total 11 4 28 (2 three pointers)

Halftime notes:

1) Dumb, Dumber, Dumberest: You know how Niskayuna's gym only has that one little entrance and there's a constant traffic jam there? Well, Sage's gym has the same thing, except that it also invovles a set of stairs. Good times. There's also a team of elementary school aged boys sitting and eating pizza on said stairs. Traffic to the concession has ground to a halt. Who allows this? Oh, it must be the parents sitting on the stairs with them. As I try to manuever by them, I overhear them talking about how they could school Brad, because they could run through his legs. I love 4th graders.

2) Disappearing Act: The BHS cheerleaders went somewhere during halftime and didn't return until about midway through the 3rd quarter. That's suspicious only because...

3) Hit and run: The announcer is now making the following announcement every three to four minutes. If anyone witnessed a hit-and-run in the parking lot, please come to the announcing table. You could simultaneously see 160 people say the same thing to the person they were sitting with: I hope the owner of the car reported that, and it's not some random car out there that got hit-and-run. This is particularly amusing to me because my mom just got a new car. At one point I tell her that they described the model of the car as a "black honda." She almost fainted. SJC has now pinned the crime on the cheerleaders, just like that bad movie where the cheerleaders rob banks...

UPDATE (4:30pm): A reader writes in to explain that the car that was hit belonged to Coach Brehm, Shaker's assistant coach.

4) Mom tries to buy a 50/50 ticket: My mom started to open her wallet at halftime and I quickly put a stop to that. Ridiculous. Here's a golden rule for going to high school hoops games: Don't ever buy a 50/50 ticket at an away game. Visiting fans never win. I'm pretty sure most schools just use two buckets: one to collect tickets from the visitors section and one to collect tickets from the home section. Guess which bucket gets thrown in the trash before the drawing? Heck, you might buy one if you like supporting the public schools. That's fine. But don't delude yourself thinking your getting a piece of that $136.50. No way.

3rd Quarter

The third quarter was frustrating, because it really looked like the Bison were going to pull away, but somehow they didn't. Brad hit a shot and then Tom Duclos - with his thumb all taped up - made a nice steal and got fouled on the breakaway. He made 1 of 2. On the next trip, Duclos again got fouled going to the hoop, but missed both. Stempsey hit a three for BHS, and then Shaker was fouled again (on the floor this time), giving BHS three fouls in the first 1:30 of the half. Duclos put in a basket on a nice drive - he really came alive this quarter - and then BHS answered with an easy layup on an offensive rebound. Hooks then dropped another three pointer to make it 38-23, and I finally had the sense that this thing was over. John Hans had a sweet steal that would have been a breakaway layup, but he was called for a foul on it. BHS scored and then got a three to cut the lead to 10. God, we cannot put these guys away. Their defense was still rough on Brad, but the refs were finally calling fouls inside. Shaker got into the bonus at the 1:30 mark up the 3rd, and it should have been earlier. A preposterous no-call on an EC drive got the visiting crowd going. Next trip, Dare got the ball in the lane, got in trouble and just lofted a pass in Brad's direction. Somehow Brad came down with, stepped by a defender and jammed one home to make it 40-28. BHS scored, and then Griff got fouled on a nice offensive reoubnd putback, and made one of two at the line. Brad then added a foul shot and it was 42-30 at the end of the quarter, Shaker winning the third 14-12.

Third quarter notes:

1) If nothing else, the fouls will decide this one: Shaker had two fouls in the quarter, giving them just 4 for the game. BHS had 9, meaning Shaker will play the whole 4th quarter in the double bonus. The refs are getting really picky inside, calling alot of chippy fouls on BHS, while still ignoring some of the blatant hacks against Brad. Shaker is going to the line alot - everytime Brad gets the ball and makes a move, he's fouled hard.

2) Griff looks very frustrated,and he almost killed a cheerleader: He wasn't getting the ball, he was getting abused when he tried to post up, and I think he was even limping a bit on his ankle. But man was he playing hard. On one play near the sideline, he crashed into the bleacher area and came down pretty hard. Luckily he was ok. Another time, he got tangled up going for a defense rebound and slammed into the wall behind the hoop, narrowly missing the BHS cheerleader as they dove out of the way. And I do love going to the small gyms for one reason: you can hear Griff on offense and defense. He's just ball! ball! ball! on defense and one time when he didn't get the ball in the post, he let out a huge Aaaaaawwwwwww! on offense. He's just fun to watch.

3) Lots of VC, no Bodgan: Interesting bench usage by Holmes tonight. Vernon is gettting lots of minutes. Bodgan is getting none.

4th Quarter

The kind of first three minutes that you pray doesn't happen when you have a 12 point lead. Duclos started the quarter with a strong drive, got clobbered, no call. BHS misses. Hooks then misses a three. BHS scores. Schaller misses a three. BHS scores. Hooks misses another three. BHS misses but gets an offensive board and an easy two. Ahhh. 42-36. Just shoot me. The gym is alive, the BHS fans are going crazy. Not good. Hans misses a jumper and BHS gets a fast break, 2 on 1. But - thank god - Hooks takes a nice charge and Shaker gets the ball back. A wild scence in the gym. The BHS fans can taste the upset and don't like the call. Griff then gets the ball in the post but misses, and BHS starts another fast break. Hans gets good position for a charge call, but a block is called instead. Stempsey hits 1 of 2 on the foul and Shaker calls timeout. 42-37. No points for Shaker yet this quarter. Out of the timeout, Griff gets a tough hoop inside,BHS misses as the other end, Brad takes a hard foul in the lane and makes both at the line. 46-37. That's some breathing room. BHS misses and then EC misses a three pointer. BHS comes back and hits a three. Eddie is then called for a ridiculous charge, and he almost gets a technical when he starts jawing about it. But i don't blame him. It was garbage. BHS gets a hoop and its 46-42. Good lord, don't blow this one. But that's all the points that BHS would get. Griff took a tough foul and made both. BHS missed and Brad made both after getting fouled at the other end. BHS missed, EC scored on a breakaway layup and then Hans made 1 of 2 foul shots near the end. Phew. Final score 53-42.

4th quarter notes:

1) A classic truism: One thing that will never change about high school hoops: You will never get two charges called on consecutive plays agaisnt the home team in the 4th quarter. Never. I was actually surprised that Hooks was able to draw one in such a tight spot to begin with. That was really the key moment, too. No way Hans was getting the call on the following play. It was just comically bad reffing last night - you're classic "don't call the obvious fouls but then make up for it by calling a few chippy ones inside." Awful.

2) Holmes under fire: Coach Holmes has got to be the most calm high school hoops coach ever in tight situations. It's 44-37, Shaker hasn't scored yet this quarter, and he's a picture of serenity in the huddle. Very reassuring.

3) Just your standard regular lunch: Shaker made 7 foul shots and 2 baskets in the 4th. It's not an exaggeration to say that their offense for the whole quarter offensively was something like this: either miss a three pointer or get it into the post, if the latter happens go up hard and you will be clobbered, and maybe there will be a call. They came up with a neat trick to solve the Brad triple team - with the ball on the left wing and Brad posting just outside the low block, they were throwing entry passes to Griff across the lane to the opposite low block, since all the defenders were cheating toward Brad. It worked to perfection once, another time it resulted in a steal and fast break.

Here is the partial boxscore:

NameFGFTFTAFT %3-PtPoints
Eddie Cross322100%08
Vernon Cross200--04
Tom Duclos11425%03
John Hans31250%07
Brian Hooks000--39
Griff McLoughlin13475%05
Brad Sheehan491275%017

And here's the quarter log:

Shaker 13151411 53

Gosh, it's so nice to see Hooks with 3 triples. That's great. And VC really contributed tonight. Eddie was solid. I thought that Griff and Duc disappeared at times - Griff of course sat the bench most of the 2nd quarter. Duclos didn't do a whole lot besides his outburst in the 3rd. But overall, everyone played very hard.

Four major things to sum up:

1) That's seven in a row: In some ways, the games at this point in the season mean more: momentum and confidence can be everything going into the postseason, and a seven game win streak is nothing to sneeze at. On the other hand, these games also mean less: nothing that happens between now and sectionals is going to change Shaker's status, so it's more important to play well and improve than simply to pile up wins. I thought they played pretty well tonight. They certainly weren't perfect, by any means. BHS picked a nice game plan and Shake went cold for a few stretches and got frustrated inside by the refs and the zone. It happens. They weren't going to beat Schenectady with last night's effort, but that's ok. They weren't playing Schenectady.

2) A deeper and wider bench: Except for Bodgan, Holmes used pretty much everyone tonight for at least some extended time. The main beneficiaries were VC and Hooks, both of whom played well. Schaller is also getting more minutes, which is great because he seems to be capable and John works so hard that he really could use some minutes on the bench to rest. Tom Kahnle continues to impress in his limited minutes, although it's just hillarious how Holmes puts Brad back in immediately if they give up an offensive rebound, even if he's only been on the bench for 20 seconds.

3) No more crappy gyms: That's it for this year. Just the H-gym new gym, HVCC, Glens Falls, and the Pepsi remain as possible game locations. Hooray!

4) Two games (really four) left to get in shape: Shen and Saratoga next week, and then the two game Suburban tourney, then the big dance starts. I think this team has made great strides in the last month. Not only have they won seven in a row, but the turnovers are down, the press break now actually works, they are getting some up-tempo points, and they know how to score and how to stop teams. It's like night and day in a lot of ways. These next four games are an opportunity to hone everything and get it set for sectionals.

Summary and notes

Averill Park lost to B. Spa last night(!) giving Shaker sole posession of the best record in th Suburban...The paper gave Brad 12 rebounds, he certainly looked at least that dominant last night...Next Friday is Shaker's senior night, come out and say goodbye...

Final score: Shaker 53, Bethlehem 42. TU box score here. Shaker improves to 13-3 (11-1 Suburban Council). Next game: 1/31/06, home against Shen.
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