Saturday, January 9, 2016

Troy High basketball at the halfway point---a tale of two seasons

When the high school basketball season began last month, it seemed as if Troy High would make a smooth transition into the Suburban Council on both the men's & women's sides. Nearly six weeks later, it's a study in contrasts.

The women came out of the gate 3-0, blowing away Colonie, Columbia, & Schenectady. Then, on December 11, a narrow loss to Mohonasen on the road sent the Lady Flying Horses on a downward spiral that now has them three games in arrears of Grey division leader Albany. Troy has lost five of their last nine, including an embarrassing last place finish in their own tournament. Columbia collected a receipt in the first round of the Troy Holiday Hoops Classic on December 30, and, then, Bethlehem routed Troy in the consolation game four nights later. Last night, the Lady Eagles returned to Clem Zotto Gym, and beat Troy again, this time by just two points, 40-38. Mind you, Bethlehem has succeeded without their leading scorer, Jenna Giacone, who's out with an injury. Their defense shut down Troy's Shallie Frierson, who was held to just 2 points, while Sabrina Wolfe led the Lady Horses with 16 points.

Overall, Troy sits at 7-5 (6-3 in the Council), and has lost four in a row at home, including the tournament.

Next week provides what appears to be a breather, as Guilderland is off to a 2-9 overall start before hosting Troy. Then comes a rematch of the Class A title game from last March at Averill Park. Ah, but while the defending champs will by psyched for that one, they're also struggling. Entering play last night, coach Sean Organ's squad sat at 4-3 in league play. After that two-game road swing, the Lady Horses come home to play Burnt Hills, which has yet to win this season, but after that comes a virtual Murderer's Row. Shaker at home. Road games at Shenendehowa and Albany before the senior night finale vs. Schenectady. The season ends on Super Bowl Sunday with a road matinee at Long Island Lutheran. Add it up, and Troy has just three home games remaining in the regular season. Running the table is not going to happen, not with the way Shen & Albany have played this season, and those two teams have yet to face each other.

Meanwhile, the boys team dropped a heartbreaker to Colonie on December 1 on the road. Since then, aside from the recent Bishop Ludden tournament, where Troy placed third, coach Richard Hurley's club has run off eight straight wins in league play, and sit atop the Grey division, leading Schenectady by two, Albany by three, and, surprisingly, Christian Brothers Academy is in 4th, four games back and a game under .500. Of the four teams that are in the top half of the standings in the Grey division, all in their first season in the Suburban Council, you'd think that CBA would've had the easiest transition. Nope.

Troy is home next week vs. Guilderland, looking to collect a receipt from last season, and Averill Park before hitting the road to play Burnt Hills and Shaker. It'll be the first regular season meeting vs. the Blue Bison, though the schools have had a history in sectional play dating back to the early 80's, when a future NBA champion, Sam Perkins, was Shaker's top star. I still have a button from those days, which I've worn this season. Still in nice condition. I digress. Shen makes their 1st regular season visit on January 29, kicking off a stretch of three home games in five days. A non-league game vs. Green Tech on January 31, followed by Albany on February 2. Troy closes the regular season at Schenectady, then a rematch at home vs. CBA. Out of the remaining nine games, there are bumps in the road (Guilderland, Shen, possibly Shaker, possibly CBA) toward a division title. Green Tech isn't going to be a gimme, either.

What that says is that since Troy has just 1 league loss, they're likely going to play Shen a second time, in the league championship game, which would determine sectional seedings. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Troy will go 5-3 in their last eight league games, finishing 13-4, and winning the Grey division, and ending up the #2 seed in the league behind Shen. As for the ladies, as noted, the road is even tougher. Guilderland isn't exactly a slam dunk, and, as we learned from the Mohonasen game, neither is Burnt Hills. Nothing says "trap game" like another winless team hungry for an upset, especially when it's followed by three tough games in a row. The Lady Horses project to end the league schedule 9-7, light years behind Albany. The women's title game in the Council will be Shen-Albany. That much is certain.

Of course, I could be wrong.

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