Sparks Roll in Foxboro Mass.
The Sparks Fall 7 & 8 Grade Team won the Mass Premier Challenge on October 13th & 14th, 2012. The Team competed in the 9th Grade Division. The Sparks finished second in Pool Play going 2-1.
They lost the opening game 40-39 to the Central Mass Hawks, then defeated Mass Premier 8th Grade 44-38 and Mass Premier 9th Grade 56-53.
Finally they came back and beat the Central Mass Hawks in the Championship game by a score of 45-41.
Saratoga Sparks Place Second at Nationals
AAU team features several of the top high school juniors in Section II
By Rob Jonas
Some of the top Section II girls basketball players proved they are among the nation’s best players.
The Saratoga Sparks 16-and-under team placed second at last week’s AAU National Championships in Orlando. The Sparks reached the finals before losing to the LA Angels of Louisiana 53-46.
“The girls have worked hard, and they’ve played together for three years now,” said Sparks head coach Carlin DeMarinis. “It was time for them to make that run.”
The Sparks feature a who’s who of junior talent in the Capital District. Sydnie Rosales and Jaclyn Welch represented Section II Class AA champion Colonie on the 12-player roster, while Class B champion Watervliet had Ailayia Demand, Mikayle Deguire and Lashana Tolliver on the team.
“I think we really enjoy the summers playing together,” said Rosales. “We’ve grown to love playing together, and our level of play has expanded as a result.”
“When we first came together in our freshman year, we weren’t sure of each other and we didn’t talk much,” said Welch. “Now, we get along great.”
Other players on the team include Bethlehem’s Bridget Murphy, Scotia-Glenville’s Cassie Broadhead, Shaker’s Madison Rowland, Shenendehowa’s Alyssia Marsal and Ballston Spa’s Sydney Hansen.
“It’s almost like a coach’s dream to have all these all-stars from Section II on one team,” said DeMarinis.
The Sparks didn’t have Broadhead for the championship game against the LA Angels because her Mormon religion forbids physical activity on Sundays, but Murphy stepped up and scored 20 points to lead the way.
“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have Cassie, but it was time for some of the other girls to step up. That’s what Bridget Murphy did,” said DeMarinis. “She played like Cassie out there.”
“We tried to pick up our play as much as we could without Cassie,” said Rosales.
The Sparks began the five-day tournament in style by beating their three opponents in pool play. They defeated Girls Got Game from Florida 56-52 in last Tuesday’s opener, and they followed up with a 50-29 victory over Team Reign from North Carolina and a 51-44 win against the Region Lady Bulldogs from Indiana.
Sparks Make Another Top 10 Finish at the AAU National Tournament
The Saratoga Sparks 15 Orange team once again competed at the National AAU Championships and like last year finished in the top 10. The Sparks compiled a 5-2 record while coming first in their pool and 9th in the tournament. In spite of losing their first game by a point to the Cardinal Elite, the Sparks went on to beat both the Georgia and Kentucky State Champions to win their pool. The Sparks then went on to the Championship Round and unfortunately lost the opening game to the Alabama State Champions before reeling off three victories against the Bay State Jaguars, Love Elite the Maryland Champs and the Cardinal Elite.
The Sparks did this while averaging over 61 points a game. The Sparks were led in scoring by Colonie's Sydnie Rosales with 88 points and Scotia's Cassie Broadhead with 83. The Sparks were led in rebounds by Watervliet's Lashana Tolliver and Mikayla Deguire. Cassie also lead the team in assists with Bethlehem's Bridget Murphy a close second.
Because this was a live Division 1 viewing period Coach Mingione has received many calls from D-1 coaches about many players on the team. The coaches reported being very impressed not only with individual players but also with the team oriented approach of the players.
The team will continue its schedule with two Fall Tournaments during D-1 viewing period in October.
Sparks Take Adirondacks by Storm
by Sparks Staff Reporter Steve "The Scoop" Smitt
The Saratoga Sparks 8th grade team recently swept a weekend series to claim the Great Adirondack Shootout Championship hosted by the Northern Lites in Lake George. Inside the cozy confines of the Glens Falls YMCA, the Sparks were able to win all three of their scheduled preliminary games by double digit scores. The formula for winning was consistent throughout the tournament, build up early leads and play disciplined defense which proved to frustrate their opponents.
After cruising through their bracket it was on to Hudson Falls Middle School for the Championship game against the Fulton Montgomery Stars. The game did not start fast for the Sparks. Watching her team fall behind 5-0 to begin the game was more than Coach Pleasure could bare, she yanked the starting five off the court. The rafter echoed as the soft spoken coach shared the following message with her fresh troops "...and if you don't do any better, you'll be on the bench too...", The message was well received, the Sparks swarming and suffocating press limited the Stars to very few scoring opportunities as they cruised to a lopsided victory. The young Sparks outscored their opponents 173-84 over the Memorial Day weekend to claim their 2nd championship of the season.
Sparks Earn Metals in Lake Placid
The Saratoga Sparks seventh grade team took a ride on north bound 87 last weekend to participate in the 2011 Lake Placid Primetime Challenge. The trip proved beneficial for the young Sparks as they edged out the Empire Nighthawks in a very exciting Championship game 25-24. The Sparks jumped out to early eight point lead, but the Nighthawks roared back in the second half and took a three point advantage of their own with less than three minutes to play. The Sparks once again rallied and made a couple of free throws to cut the margin. Their tenacious defense forced several turnovers during the last two minutes to secure the victory and the Championship. The Sparks were undefeated during the weekend and posting a perfect 4-0 record.
Pictured: Front Row Left to Right: Natalia Carmon, Madison Borden, Paige Francesconi, Julia Marino, Colleen Doiron
Back Row: Charlee Pollard, Ariana Chillis, Kendall Ackner, Erika Ryan, Faith Gilbert, Gigi Flint.
Not Pictured: Llayla Nayar Head Coach Todd Doiron and Assistant Coaches Carey Ryan and Mike Borden.
Sparks raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer.
The Saratoga Sparks 6th Grade Team pictured below after winning the Albany Redhawk Rumble. The team is pictured with the donation check being made in the team’s honor to the Coaches vs. Cancer Foundation. The team went 5-0 in the tournament running its season record to 20-3.
Pictured left to right: Front: Sarah Kowaleski, Devin Davidson, Abby Green, Kelsey Cirincione, Julianna Taylor, Cameron Tooley. Back: Head Coach John Ricci, Julia Zachgo, Bethany Pochobradski, Sondra Slepski, Mikayla Spiak, Caitlyn Estes, Sarah Ricci, Assistant Coach Martina Tooley.
Sparks Starting to Gell as Season Moves Forward
The Saratoga Sparks 13U Orange team has gelled quickly this season and recently went 4-0 to win the Zero Gravity Championship held at LeMoyne College in Syracuse.
After breezing through their first two games and pulling out a nail-biter to improve to 3-0, the smaller, but very athletic Sparks were pitted against the well polished and physically larger foe in the Lady Knuckleheads of Binghamton, New York. Tenacious defense and quick and skillful drives to the basket, along with and great foul shooting brought the girls back from a double-digit hole. Coach Pleasure's plan to have the girls take the ball hard to the hoop resulted in foul shot opportunities and eventually two less Knuckleheads. Bodies were hitting the floor at both ends of the court and the Sparks rallied to a 49-47 victory.
Pictured above: from upper left-Coach Pleasure, Talia Segal, Macie Holmes, Camryn David, Lauren Canterbury, Nicole Conley, Maggie Stalter and Asst. Coach Hopkins. From lower left-Taylor Murphy, Emily Patchell, Maya Lewis and Amanda Lee. Missing were Mikayla Lansing and Meghan Malone.
Sparks Earn Split at the Northeast Elite Fall Ball College Showcase
The Sparks 16 Orange team traveled to Marion Massachusetts this past weekend to complete in the 2010 Northeast Elite Fall Ball College Showcase. The tournament was well attended by college coaches from all over the Northeast and the Sparks made sure that each coach got to see what they were looking for. Cohoes Seniors Bailei Tetrault and Danielle Beauchamp scored 37 and 35 points respectively during the four game weekend to lead the Sparks scoring attack while Shenendehowa Seniors Mandi Edick and Megan Rogers combined for 50 points while leading the rebounding effort.
Niskayuna standout Ashely McCaughan scored 12 points during the Sparks 51-42 victory over the CT Cobras while Shaker’s Mallory Dickson’s soft touch from beyond the arc help propel the Sparks to a 47-45 victory over the CT Premier. Contributions were also made by Burnt Hills senior forward Kelly Maher who made 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Shenendehowa Junior Chrisanne Pierson and Holy Names Junior Kylie Small played quality minutes, each spending time playing guard, forward and center.
Sparks Finish 11th at the Penn State USA Invitational
The Saratoga Sparks 16U
team traveled to State College PA this past week and finished up their 2010 campaign by finishing 11th out of the 64 teams in the Southern Bracket of the Bluechip USA Invitational Tournament. The Sparks finished with a 4-2 record while turning the heads of many college coaches.
Niskayuna’s Ashley McCaughan, Shenendehowa’s Megan Rogers and Mandi Edick and Queensbury’s Alexis Perryman were all named game MVP’s.
The week was terrific for the Sparks who spent much of the season being haunted by their coach about the importance of winning the first game of the tournament. Pressure was applied at every practice and a website was created as a constant reminder that winning the first game at Penn State would split the tournament field in half, assuring the Sparks games against the best competition in their bracket.
The pressure paid dividends, not only did the Sparks beat Spain 41-29 in the first round, but they dumped the PA Thunder 57-37 in the second game on their way to securing a 4-2 tournament record and an 11th place finish.
There were several outstanding performances during the six game tourney. Niskayuna’s Ashley McCaughan, Shenendehowa’s Megan Rogers and Mandi Edick and Queensbury’s Alexis Perryman were all named game MVP’s. Putting individual efforts aside, it was a complete team effort. The guard play of McCaughan, Cohoes’s Bailei Tetrault, Scotia’s Kalia Sanboeuf and Shenendehowa’s Maggie Smith produced scoring opportunities and applied pressure defense in every game. They were the sparks that started the engine.
Cohoes’s Danielle Beauchamp, and Scotia’s Danielle Conley were able to contribute at multiple positions providing scoring, rebounding and fast break opportunities that more often then not provided the Sparks with leads or slammed the door shut on their opponents.
Burnt Hill’s Junior Kelly Maher played the best ball of the season at Penn State providing solid defense and much needed rebounding. The post was covered between Ballston Spa’s Taylor Whyte and Shaker’s Mallory Dickson. The two battled in every game and gave the Sparks the strength in the middle that was necessary to make a successful run at Penn State.
Over all the week was fantastic. The Sparks played great and displayed confidence in themselves and their teammates that turned the heads of many college coaches watching. As the coaching staff stressed all season, “College coaches are looking for players that display a love and respect for the game, their teammates and themselves, players that a college coach would want to spend four years with"
shared Coach Fazio. “I’m certain that there are coaches this morning preparing letters of interest with their names on them. In our last game together against the Hunterdon United, every player scored and it was a complete team victory, it should serve as a great memory for you of this team and its many accomplishments. You were all presented with a great opportunity this season to shine and you all made the most of it, particularly this past week.”
shared Coach Turner
I would also like to thank each of your parents for their support of this team. The "TEAM" concept did not end with the players. It carried off the court, and on to the streets. It was refreshing to watch your parents enjoy the success of the team and not just focus on individual accomplishments. If you haven't done so... they deserve a big hug and an "I love you" After all, I hugged most of them Wednesday night at Champs during the team party so it wouldn't kill you to hug them as well.
Sparks 14ís Finish 6th at the AAU Nationals
The Saratoga Sparks 14U
basketball team took sixth place in the 2010 AAU Girls Basketball National Championship Tournament held July 6-10 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. The team is comprised of Section II freshmen players who finished their regular AAU season undefeated with 30 wins. At the National Tournament, the Sparks were 5 and 3 against a field of 40 of the best teams in the United States. The Sparks are the first local team in recent memory to finish this high in the AAU National Championship Tournament. The Sparks advanced all the way to the Elite Eight round.
The Sparks had qualified for the Nationals by winning a Super Regional tournament and became one of only two local girls AAU team to ever win the prestigious GymRat tournament held earlier in the year.
The Sparks beat teams from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and two from Pennsylvania. Outstanding players at the tournament were; Sydney Rosales and Madison Rowland, who scored a total of 87 and 83 points respectively; Madison Rowland who had 39 steals, Cassie Broadhead with 42 rebounds, and Ailaiya Demand who had a team high 25 assists; and, whose two free throws with .8 seconds left gave the Sparks a one point victory.
The trip to the Nationals was made possible in large part by contributions by area residents and businesses. More information on the National Tournament can be found at http://aaugirlsbasketball.org.
Also posted on the Times Union website on August 4th. http://blog.timesunion.com/youthsports/sparks-6th-in-national-tournament/1712/
Strong Team Play Lifts Sparks To Title
Gym Ray Challenge Website: The Saratoga Sparks 14-under division team came to Sunday's games at the GymRat Challenge tournament without its head coach as Tony Mingione missed the event for a family function, and without one of its better players, whose opts not to play in Sunday games due to religious reasons.
But those seeming handicaps did nothing to derail the championship run of the Saratoga Sparks, who used strong overall team play and a well-designed strategy to advance to Sunday night's championship contest of the 6th annual GymRat CHALLENGE for girls where it earned a 56-40 victory over the New York Gauchos.
Sydnie Rosales, who just finished her freshman year at Colonie High School, was named the age bracket's MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) for her strong overall game, her composure at the guard spot against difficult pressure defense, and for coming up big down the stretch by scoring five of her team's final nine points as the Sparks held off the Gauchos.
"This was a big deal for us to win in our home area," said Rosales. "A lot of people think there aren't good teams locally, but we wanted to prove we were a good team."
The Sparks showed just that with a strong display of team-oriented play throughout the event as 20-year old Serita Holland, who aspires to a career in coaching, took over the coaching reins on Sunday's second day of the tournament.
The team also overcame the loss of Cassie Broadhead of Scotia-Glenville H.S., who skips Sunday games for religious reasons.
"We've played other tournaments this year without her on Sundays ... we know she's not going to play on that day," said Holland. "It's not a big deal for us."
It probably didn't hurt the champions to see a relatively familiar foe in the championship game.
The Sparks matched up with the Gauchos in another tournament on the AAU circuit earlier this spring and knocked them off there too.
Sunday's play made it appear like the Sparks had a solid strategy for success again in the return meeting. They packed the lane defensively against a taller and more-athletic Gauchos team and, then, pushed the ball offensively at every opportunity. The result was that the Gauchos had to foul to stop the Sparks' fast-break drives to the basket, and the Gauchos wound up shooting 21 free throws (to 10 for the Gauchos). The Saratoga team made 16 of its 21 free-throw attempts.
"We felt pretty confident coming in because we had beaten them before," added Rosales. "And the way we played is the way we like to play. We like to run and push the ball, and that worked tonight."
Rosales said the tournament title was a little extra special coming on its home turf.
"It definitely is nice to win when you play in your home area," she added. "We love it when people we know can come out and watch us have success."
Sparks Grab Honors at The GymRat Challenge
Gym Ray Challenge Website: Congratulations to Sydnie Rosales (not pictured) for being named the 2010 Most Valuable GymRat. She brought calm to the court, particularly against a pressing defense applied by the New York Gauchos in the event's championship game. Her smooth play was on display here. She is good in transition, advancing the ball very well. Has exceptional range, even beyond the 3-point stripe.
Coming off an injury plagued season at Colonie, but looks to be back to full health. Showed an ability to dominate games when she plays with intensity. Her size and ability she exhibits marks her a potential future Division I recruit.
Also collecting were Cassie Broadhead, Mackenzie Rowland and Brehenda Stratton who were all selected to the GymRat All Tournament Team, while Lauren Woods, Emily Weber, Mary Kate Cusack, Ailayia Demand and Madison Rowland were all named Honorable mentions.
Sparks Sweep Late Game Heroics Define Weekend
Saratoga Springs, New York – What a difference a week makes... This weekend the Saratoga Sparks participated in their home tournament, the Thoroughbred Classic. The last chance for each college bound Junior to enjoy a little home cooking before heading to Rockland County and Penn State to finish up their AAU season. It was also a chance for their parents to enjoy one last go around at the concession stand and the admissions table... all fond memories by the close of Sunday.
The first game of the weekend pitted the home town team against the Lady Knicks of Utica. The game was not much of a contest. The Sparks ran out quick to a double digit lead and never looked back. Ashley McCaughan scored a team high eleven points including nine steal, while teammate Alexis Perryman added nine points. Danielle BeauCHAMP was perfect from beyond the arc snapping both of her attempts. Mallory Dickson lead the Saratoga Sparks with seven rebounds as the Sparks ran away from the Knicks 51-19.
That game would be the last laugher of the tournament. The Orange County Crusaders were next on the schedule and they offered both size and experience. The Sparks played solid most of the game but had several short issues with turnovers and committing to the offense, but when they were committed and focused on protecting the basketball they looked sharp. Mandy "Sunshine" Edick lead the Sparks with 10 points and Ashley McCaughan collected seven rebounds while Kalia Sanboeuf collected four steals to help their team to a hard fought 36-33 victory over the Crusaders.
"I was pretty happy with the way the girls played today" shared Coach Turner. "Our new offense gave us good scoring opportunities, both inside and out... our only problem was we did have people running their own versions of the offense... when you need a basket in a close game its critical that the five players on the court are working together to get the job done... this will be the only way we will succeed at Penn State... together"
After a fairly quiet Saturday afternoon, the 2-0 Sparks took the court on Sunday morning to face the Finger Lake Fury and the Lady Sizzlers from Waverly. Both teams were talented and would offer the Sparks all they could handle.
The Fury game was one of those edge of your seat affairs, a low scoring, defensive battle that would make any fan of basketball sit and take notice. The Sparks held a steady five point lead through much of the first half, but with 4:15 remaining the Fury took advantage of a few poorly time turnovers and took a one point lead with three seconds left on the game clock. After that basket, the ball was quickly inbounded to Ashley McCaughan who calmly took aim at a target about 65' away from her... you know, one of those last second shots that players heave up in the air with hopes of it snapping the net, if you've seen it once you seen it a hundred time... well, you rarely see this... the 5'2" guard took her shot and snapped the net from 65' giving the Sparks a two point half time lead.
"I had my down by one half time speech all ready to go and then I had to change direction and give the we're up by two speech" offered Coach Fazio.
In the second half the Sparks worked hard a gained a 41-36 victory over the Fury. Mandy Edick scored a game high eleven points while teammate Alexis Perryman scored another nine. Taylor Whyte, Danielle Conley and Mallory Dickson each collected seven rebounds to help the Sparks dominate the glass on both ends of the court.
The last game of the weekend was a wild one. Once again the Sparks fell victim to turnovers, turning a five point lead into a five point deficit with only :12 seconds remaining to play. That's when Mandi Edick stepped up and drained a three pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead to two. After a quick time out the Sparks fouled the first kid they could find and hoped against hope that they would miss at least one of the charity shots.
The Sparks got what they were looking for, a three point deficit with less than five seconds to play. With no time to spare the Sparks got the ball up the court and found Ashley McCaughan and once again hoped for a little magic. Ashely made one ball fake, took a step to her right and let the ball fly from beyond the arc... the buzzer sounded and the ball kissed the glass and snapped the net, tying the score at 44.
"I knew the shot was good as soon as it left my hand" shared McCaughan, "If Mandi missed her shot this one wouldn't have meant anything" the humble guard continued.
The Sparks went on the defeat the Sizzlers 49-47 in overtime. McCaughan scored a game high twelve points while Bailei Tetrault scored ten and Danielle Conley chipped in six. Taylor Whyte collect seven hard fought rebounds. The Sparks finished the tournament 4-0 and improved their overall record to 10-9.
The Sparks had a pretty good weekend shooting 31% from the floor, 29% from behind the arc and 67% from the free throw line.