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Solid defense even beats graduation

Schools of Thought

December 20, 2007
BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald
The worst thing about having a great athlete on your team is they eventually graduate.

That’s about the only bad thing, but it can be tough to overcome.

The Fonda-Fultonville girls’ and Glens Falls boys’ basketball teams are overcoming that loss in the same fashion.

Everyone gets involved and everyone plays tough defense.

The Fonda-Fultonville Lady Braves lost Natalie Mosconi to graduation and, with her, their point guard, offensive first option, Western Athletic Conference co-MVP and leading scorer, the majority of their scoring and long-range shooting.

What they retained was the rebounding ability a group of players who, last season, had their best chance of getting the ball by cleaning the glass. Mosconi being the ballhandler and first option, she took most of the first shots.

That rebounding is just part of how the Lady Braves are planning to once again challenge for the WAC North championship. As they showed Tuesday against St. Johnsville, their defense can carry them through some games.

FFCS turned over the Lady Saints 39 times, many times getting a transition layup as a result.

Some people will say, “Yeah, but it was St. Johnsville.”

The Lady Saints haven’t had much success over recent years, but they showed in the game with FFCS that they have some talent. Alyzia Madsen and Richelle Dye knocked down some nice shots and even got St. Johnsville off to an early lead, 5-2, before the turnovers started hurting them about three minutes into the game.

Even with the turnovers, St. Johnsville trailed just 13-11 with a minute left in the quarter. The Lady Saints just need to get used to dealing with the kind of pressure FFCS applied and they can take another step toward a better season.

Of course, they also had to contend with a Fonda team full of contributors. The Lady Braves had nine girls score, led by sophomore Paula Egelston’s scoring and senior Amy Hitchcock’s rebounding.

The Lady Braves could have just stood around at the beginning of the season, looking at each other and asking, “What do we do now?”  Instead, they started getting everyone involved.

That’s a lot easier with everyone playing tough defense. Even if a team breaks the press, the girls have the same intensity in their half court defense, keeping their hands up and getting into the passing lanes.

That also worked wonders Saturday for the Glens Falls boys against Johnstown. Without Jimmer Fredette, who was the Foothills Council MVP and leading scorer last year and now plays for Brigham Young University, the Indians were without a lot of last season’s offensive production.

The Indians have six seniors this season, but last year’s seniors played most of last year’s minutes. This year’s seniors are relatively inexperienced, but pulled off their first win of the season Saturday by forcing the Sir Bills guards to turn the ball over 27 times.

The Sir Bills took better care of the ball in the third quarter and turned the ball over just once in that period, but the 26 in the three other quarters did them in.

It was Glens Falls’ first win of the season, but they have been in each of their games, coach Tony Hammel said, and he hoped the win would spark a run. Johnstown coach Scott Hale said the Indians have a good bunch of athletes who he expects to improve as the season progresses.

There are some clichés I can’t stand. They’re thrown around indiscriminately and make me cringe each time I hear them. But there is one that I love, because it is so true and so often ignored, if not by coaches, by players.

Defense wins.

Defense wins even when you’ve lost a large portion of your offense.



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