Stratton realizing potential

Tuesday, December 28, 2010  
Albany High freshman is in third varsity season
By James Allen Staff Writer
Updated:12:23 p.m., Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ALBANY -- One look at Breahanda Stratton is all it takes. Her eyes immediately reveal an insatiable desire to compete and Stratton, a third-year varsity performer with the Albany High girls' basketball team, yearns to excel at the game she loves.

And the versatile 6-foot standout, who can play, and dominate, all five positions on the floor is well on her way to achieving her objective.
Stratton, who earned first-team Big 10 status and garnered second-team Large School All-Area selection by the Times Union as an eighth-grader, knows she has ability. She does not, however, view herself as an elite player.
"She doesn't consider herself that. It's just basketball to her," Albany assistant Decky Lawson said.

The biggest improvement Stratton has made isn't an improved jumper, a slick post move or even enhancements to her defensive skills. It is simply her approach.” I improved my attitude a lot. I used to be a hothead. I know that," Stratton said. "I think I have matured and become a leader for the team."

Albany went through the first half of the 2009-10 Big 10 schedule undefeated and appeared poised to capture the league title.

During the Falcons' second game against Catholic Central at Albany, Stratton picked up a foul early in the second quarter and argued with the official. She then pouted after coach Kelly Haggerty pulled her out of the game. Stratton did not return and the Crusaders easily won, and went on to secure the Big 10 title.

It was a bad moment for a 13-year-old, a low point in an otherwise strong second season.

This season, Stratton believes she is making the proper progression. So does Haggerty and Lawson.

"No doubt, 'Bre' has matured a ton this year. All she wants is winning a Big 10 title," Haggerty said. "She has truly taken being a leader to heart. 'Bre' works hard every day in practice. Everything is, 'yes coach' and she looks you in the eye. She was good last year, but she is so much better this year.

"I can't even put into words how much 'Bre' has grown. She's coachable. She wants to learn. She wants to grow. She wants to do what is best for the team."

"I see so much difference, even away from basketball, just having a conversation with her," Lawson said. "She asks a lot of questions and they are good questions."

A shining example of Stratton's improvement came Thursday night against Columbia. She reached her scoring average with a team-high 13 points in what turned out to be a 57-31 win.
"Columbia threw a box-and-one at her, something that happened for the first time for Bre. It was a test mentally and she handled it," Haggerty said. "We have been moving her around because she is drawing more defensive attention, even to point guard to put the ball in her hands," Lawson said.

Stratton did not force shot attempts, nor did she get flustered by the increased defensive focus. But during a 24-second sequence in the fourth quarter, Stratton flashed her scary skill set to instantly score seven points.First, she raced from one corner to the other, caught a pass and immediately raised up to drill a 3-pointer. Stratton then stole the ball near midcourt and dribbled to the left elbow before dropping in a 10-foot teardrop.

After a quick miss by the Blue Devils, Stratton effortlessly worked the ball to the foul line as Columbia unsuccessfully attempted to press -- and with two defenders directly in front of her -- powerfully rose off the floor to net a 15-foot jumper. "The thing we're trying to get her to understand is when to turn it on and when to hold back a little bit. We don't want her giving away all of her secrets," Haggerty said. "She is still figuring it all out. Bre's physical ability is being matched by the mental ability."

Lawson, who starred at Albany High in football and basketball, marvels at how Stratton already is a skilled scorer, yet takes more pride in every other facet of her game.

"She is happier when she blocks shots, rebounds and get assists even though she knows she can score," Lawson said. "When she blocks a shot sometimes, she's high-fiving people like she won the game."

"That is what makes her so special," Haggerty said.

Another characteristic that sets Stratton apart is staying after each practice to take between 300 to 400 additional jump shots.

During the summer months, Stratton seeks out pick-up games with boys.

"I have to. It builds my confidence up," Stratton said. "I work on posting up and going to the hole."

"She's playing people better than her, instead of dominating against girls," said Haggerty, who helped lead Bishop Maginn to a state title during her senior season. "She wants to challenge herself."

James Allen can be reached at 454-5062 or by e-mail at

Rosales rebounds on court

Saturday, December 25, 2010  
Colonie star returns from surgery and playing well
By James Allen Staff Writer
Published: 12:00 a.m., Saturday, December 25, 2010

COLONIE -- Sydnie Rosales never envisioned basketball not being No. 1 for her, but the Colonie High standout also never dreamed she could ever be in so much pain. As an eighth-grade starter for the Garnet Raiders, Rosales went on a run during the second half of the season when double-doubles in points, rebounds or assists were the norm. Rosales was beginning to dominate in the area's best league, and doing so against state-ranked opponents filled with senior and junior stars. She was already special. But everything suddenly changed for Rosales.
She injured her back during a practice session late in her eighth-grade campaign and simply did not recover. "She struggled with simply playing basketball at that point with how hurt she was," Colonie coach Heather Fiore said. "She tried to hide it and tried to push through as any athlete would do. Finally, it was too much -- and she wanted it done." "I couldn't sleep. I couldn't walk straight. I couldn't walk without pain going down my legs. I couldn't walk most of the time and I couldn't lay on my back," Rosales said. "I tried to do physical therapy first, but it didn't do anything for me at all, so they suggested the surgery. I had to do it." Last year in November, after four months of therapy, surgery ended Rosales' pain. Amazingly, the 5-foot-9 star got clearance to return on Jan. 15, 2010. That night, she took the court for five minutes against Averill Park -- in what turned out to be a crushing 78-38 loss. Twenty-seven days later in a rematch at Colonie, Rosales showed just how special she is by playing all 32 minutes, mostly at point guard, and scoring a team-high 19 points in the Garnet Raiders' thrilling 63-62 triumph. "I like games like that, with an atmosphere like that Averill Park game," Rosales said. "I feel like that is when I'm at my best." "She is one of the best young players I've ever seen in the Suburban Council," Shenendehowa coach Ken Strube said of Rosales during the 2009-10 season. Rosales said she played the tail end of her freshman season at roughly 50 percent capacity. "It is scary how good Sydnie is. It is awesome to coach. The same thing with Tehresa (Coles, Colonie's senior standout who is headed to Siena in the fall)," Fiore said. "As a coach, you see them out on the court with their natural talent thinking 'They are so good.' Sydnie came to every practice and every game while she was out. It was good to miss it. You can see that passion is back." Slowly but surely, Rosales' strength and confidence for the game grew. During the summer, Rosales helped lead her team -- the Saratoga Sparks -- to a 43-3 record. All three of the team's losses came at the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Fla. when the Sparks finished sixth at the 14-and-under level. Rosales also garnered Most Valuable GymRat honors in June at the GymRat Challenge, a local tournament that is one of the country's biggest summer events. Fiore, who starred as a point at Queensbury before excelling at the collegiate level and winning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Co-Player of the Year honors as a senior at Canisius, decided to have Rosales open her sophomore season at point guard. "This is what I always wanted to do," Rosales said. "This is Tehresa's senior year and we want to make the best of it. I like having the ball in my hands and controlling what everyone else does." Rosales, who will turn 15 in March, possesses exceptional ball-handling skills, quickness off the dribble and is a deft passer. "When I first got back, I didn't want to go anywhere near the paint. Now, my body is strong and got into the weight room. I'm not afraid of the contact," Rosales said. Currently, Rosales is averaging 8.8 points, 4.2 assists and 3.8 steals per game for the Garnet Raiders (4-1), ranked No. 22 in the first state Class AA poll. No player in Section II, male or female, has better shooting range than Rosales -- and her 3-point shot is effortless. "She can shoot from anywhere on the court and she loves to shoot," Fiore said. "Her shots have not been falling as much this season. When they do, look out. One thing about her, she doesn't stop shooting. Most players her age would stop, but she knows they will start falling. For us as a team, we need her to keep shooting. Teams have to play her. It opens up things up inside. It opens the lane for Tehresa to drive." "I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'll get myself there," Rosales said. Fiore does not doubt Rosales will soon turns things around because of the two words she says willed the sophomore back and fuel her desire: "mental toughness." "There is no place I would rather be. I've been shooting foul shots since I was in kindergarten. Every day, I was shooting from as far away as I could," Rosales said. "Basketball is my comfort zone." "She will break out of her shooting slump. It isn't bothering her as much as it would someone else," Fiore said. James Allen can be reached at 454-5062 or by e-mail at
Read more:

Blue Bison working to take next step

Saturday, December 11, 2010  
Class AA runner-up finish has Shaker wanting more
By JAMES ALLEN Staff Writer
Published: 12:53 a.m., Saturday, December 11, 2010

LATHAM -- The transformation from also-ran to contender status yielded 11 more wins and nearly a Section II Class AA title for the Shaker High girls' basketball team in March.
Coach Emily Caschera's second season with the Blue Bison saw them go from 6-15 in 2008-09 to 17-5 in 2009-10.

"It is really great how we came along. Coach Caschera has turned this program around," said Shaker junior center Lauren Woods, one of four returning starters. "As a team, we have very high expectations."
Shenendehowa ultimately was the obstacle the Blue Bison could not overcome in 2009-10 -- losing all three meetings in close contests, including a 47-42 verdict in the Class AA title game.

And the Plainsmen beat Shaker again Tuesday, 50-42, in the 2010-11 season opener. The Blue Bison have already compartmentalized Tuesday's loss, and, unlike New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, Caschera and her players didn't bury Tuesday's game ball behind the school.
"It is who wins the last game, not the first," Shaker senior guard Adrianne Devine said.

"We know what we need to work on."

Asked what she thought the 2009-10 campaign did for her returning players, Caschera said, "I think they learned what winning is all about. They have the desire, and they want to do more."
"I think last year definitely gave us the experience in the big games," Devine said.

"Last year and the year before, we weren't really thought of as a threat. We've made a name at Shaker and we want to add to it."

"We know we're not the underdogs anymore, but we also know that last year doesn't matter now," said Woods, a 2010 second-team, large-school all-area selection by the Times Union.
Woods is joined up front by 6-foot-1 junior forward MacKenzie Rowland and 5-9 sophomore forward/guard Madison Rowland.

Devine, who is headed to Georgetown University on a lacrosse scholarship, now plays in the backcourt alongside senior Christine Alley, the team's lone new starter.
The mission for the Blue Bison this season is to become the first Shaker team to win a Section II title since 1982.

Caschera and her players believe a Class AA title is an attainable objective, although they acknowledge teams like Shen, Colonie and Bethlehem to be formidable adversaries.
"We feel we're close," Woods said. "We just have to keep working hard and do what we did last year, play our best at the end."

Rogers makes good things happen on field, court for Lady Plainsmen

Sunday, October 31, 2010  
Scholastic Profile
Sunday, October 31, 2010
By Jim Schiltz (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

Megan Rogers is an offensive threat with a stick in her hands, and a defensive force without one. It just depends on the season, and the sport she’s playing. “I have different roles. In field hockey, I’m a scorer. In basketball, my game is defense. That’s what I’m good at,” the Shenenendehowa High School senior said. “I love doing the dirty work.” That willingness to dig in has been a big part of her success this fall. Despite constant harrassment and some double-team eforts, Rogers has piled up 21 goals, including 12 in Shenendehowa’s last seven games.

“She worked a lot in the offseason to become better and stronger, and it’s paid off. She’s having a great year, an unbelievable year,” said Shenendehowa field hockey coach Jeanne Frevola. “Imagine if she concentrated on just field hockey. She’d be scary.”
Rogers’ grit and court smarts helped Shenendehowa win a Section II basketball title last winter, and the 17-year-old is doing her best to lead the school to another crown this fall with hard, accurate drives and feeds to her teammates. The forward scored two goals and set up another Thursday, and the Lady Plainsmen took their first step with a 7-0 sectional quarterfinal win against Bethlehem.
“She’s had the hot hand. She’s been coming through for us,” said Frevola of the four-year varsity performer. “She’s been a big part of our run.”
Rogers’ scoring binge has helped Shenendehowa win 11 straight games. As Shenendehowa closed in on the Suburban Council championship, she delivered two goals in key victories over heavyweights Saratoga Springs and Niskayuna, and collected three in the second half as the Lady Plainsmen came from behind to avoid an upset against BC.
“I didn’t put a number in my head when the season started, but after I scored two in our first game, I thought, maybe, I could have a big year,” said Rogers, who does most of her damage in close quarters. “I thought, maybe I could have the kind of year like Mandy Ferro had.”
Ferro was the goal-scoring leader on Shenendehowa’s 2008 Section II championship edition, with 18. Rogers contributed three goals that year as a promising midfielder.
Rogers got an opportunity to display her own touch when she was moved to a forward spot last year. The right-hander upped her total to ll goals, and knocked in both goals when Shenendehowa beat Niskayuna in overtime, 2-1, for its signature win
While certainly an improved player this year, Rogers also gives plenty of credit to her teammates for her increased offensive production.
“The most notable thing over the past couple of games is the girls who played JV last year are starting to play great. That’s really helped me and Mary Kate [Cusack] and the other forwards,” said Rogers. “They’re getting the ball up to us with great passes, and we’re getting a lot more opportunities to work for goals. A lot of it is coming from our midfielders and defense.”
Rogers is a giver, as well, showing eight assists to go along with her big goal total.
“She’s definitely a team player,” Frevola said of Rogers, a co-captain along with Courtney Howard. “A lot of times she could score herself, but she’ll pass it off. Other times, when she’s facing a double team, it’s just the right thing to do, and she’ll get the ball to an open player.”
Columbia’s defense was leaving few players open when Rogers came off the bench and scored a tying goal with two minutes left in what would be a 2-1 overtime win. Sore shin splints had the senior resting before she provided Shenendehowa with one of its most dramatic goals of the season.
“With about 10 minutes left, I had to put my cleats back on,” said Rogers. “I was thinking, ‘I can’t go in there and not do something.’”
“I think because of her toughness, skill and determination, she’s maybe one of the top two or three field hockey players in Section II,” said Shenendehowa basketball coach Ken Strube. “If I’m in a tight game, I definitely want Meg on my side.”
Shenendehowa was in a close tussle with Shaker’s basketball team last season when Rogers sank the biggest basket of her scholastic career, a last-second, foul line jumper that gave the Lady Plainsmen a 49-47 win.
“It was awesome,” said Rogers. “When my relatives come up, my parents always show them the tape. I’ve seen it so many times. It’s so much fun watching my team’s reaction when I make it.”
Strube will have the services of the 5-foot-10 forward soon for a third varsity season.
“I’m really excited about basketball this year. We should have a good team,” said the academic and athletic star. “But first things first. There’s still some work to do this season.”
Shenendehowa will look to add to its 15 wins when it hosts Queensbury in a Section II semifinal Wednesday. Rogers’ exploits at the defensive end, her clutch points and plenty of rebounds were an essential part of a successful mix that led to 22 wins last winter, and 13 in a row before Shenendehowa’s loss in the state title game.
“She’ll go down in history as one of a half dozen of the best defensive players in our program’s history,” said Strube. “In the middle of our press, she’s just tremendous. There’s been probably only one or two others who were better at that in my coaching lifetime.”
Rogers averaged seven points, nine rebounds and four steals as a junior, but those numbers tell only a small portion of her contribution to the program.
“Her primary role was to shut down the others team’s best player, and she did it well. She’s such a hard worker,” said Strube. “She guarded bigger players, 6-2 and 5-10 players, and she guarded point guards, too. I’ll be calling on her again. She won’t get any nights off. She gets all the tough jobs.”
That includes rebounding. Rogers is awfully good at it, and time and again in her career she’s sprung a fast break with a crisp outlet after snaring the ball.
“Meg is a fundamenalist,” said Strube. “She’ll put a body on the person she’s guarding, and say, ‘You’re not going to get the ball. She won’t always get the rebound, but neither will the other player because they’re blocked out so well.”
“I get satisfaction from the achievement,” said Rogers. “Doing the dirty work isn’t real glamorous, but you know when you do a good job, and your teammates know. It’s a good feeling.”

Sparks Make Prime Time Appearance

Monday, October 04, 2010  
The Saratoga Sparks 14 year old Orange team was featured on the Fox23 new cast last night, much to the delight of the organization, the players, their parents and their coach. The team, made up of high school freshmen, traveled to Orlando in mid-July to participate in the 2010 AAU Nationals. When the dust settled in the Sunshine State, the Sparks stood tall, finishing the tournament with a 5-3 record, which secured them a sixth place finish in the forty team field.

On Monday night the team made their prime time debut, and sources close to the Nielson ratings reported that during the two minute documentary, rating on ESPN’s Monday Night Football dipped below their average draw.


Sparks Earn Split at the Northeast Elite Fall Ball College Showcase

Sunday, October 03, 2010  

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

Saturday, July 24, 2010  
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

Coach’s Note:
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

Saturday, July 24, 2010  
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

Also posted on the Times Union website on August 4th.

The Wheel Rolls to RIT

Saturday, July 24, 2010  

Long time Saratoga Spark Kayla Wheeler will be playing college basketball at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The 5’11” forward graduated from Shenendehowa High School with grades that placed her at the top of her class. Her college choice was very simple, “All I want to do is get a great education and continue to wear the colors that have helped me become a better player, teammate and citizen” shared the lanky soon to be college freshman. Kayla will soon be starting her college career wearing Sparks orange for the TIgers of RIT.

Local fans and family where thrilled to learn that RIT will soon be competing in the Liberty League against local power houses RPI, Union and Skidmore.

Not only did Kayla play six seasons with the Saratoga Sparks, but she also spent her senior year as an assistant coach, helping the Sparks 16U team to a very successful season. We wish Kayla and her family the very best and look forward to rooting for RIT when they are in the area.

Cocca and Ray Continue to Play

Friday, July 23, 2010  

Shenendehowa High School’s Marissa Ray has decided to attend Union College this fall. The 6’0” guard will be playing basketball for the Dutchman next season and is looking forward to playing college ball in front of the home crowd. While long time Sparks teammate and Niskayuna center Katie Cocca will be packing her bags and heading off to play basketball for theCollege of Saint Benedict in St. John’s Minnesota.

The dynamic duo have played together with the Sparks since the 5th grade and they have clearly hit the books, both attending fine institutions with great reputations for academics.

We wish Marissa, Katie and their families the best of luck and thank them for their contributions to the program.

Strong Team Play Lifts Sparks To Title

Saturday, June 26, 2010  
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

Saturday, June 26, 2010  
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

Saturday, June 05, 2010  
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.

Plenty of Goals for 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010  
Saratoga, New York. - 2010 looks to be a very exciting year for the Saratoga Sparks. With open auditions behind them the young college bound juniors are looking to make their last year of AAU basketball as meaningful as possible.

The Sparks goal of this season is very simple, to improve the skill and confidence level of each player while giving each the opportunity to play basketball in front of a variety of college coaches. This season is the last AAU experience for this group of Sparks, their last chance to travel with friends and family, their last chance to compete at several familiar venues, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and of course Penn State. After this season each of the players will (or in some cases, might) enjoy one more year of varsity basketball and then it’s off to college…. and then quickly after that the job market…
Saratoga, New York. - 2010 looks to be a very exciting year for the Saratoga Sparks. With open auditions behind them the young college bound juniors are looking to make their last year of AAU basketball as meaningful as possible.

The Sparks goal of this season is very simple, to improve the skill and confidence level of each player while giving each the opportunity to play basketball in front of a variety of college coaches. This season is the last AAU experience for this group of Sparks, their last chance to travel with friends and family, their last chance to compete at several familiar venues, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and of course Penn State. After this season each of the players will (or in some cases, might) enjoy one more year of varsity basketball and then it’s off to college…. and then quickly after that the job market…

This is why the 2010 Sparks will be entering the season with four very simple goals: First, work on aspects of each players game that need quick improvement, second, identify ways of drawing attention to their individual strengths. Third, keeping competitive in every game to allow playing time to stay balanced while keeping the attention of any college representatives in attendance. And last, but not least, have as much fun as humanly possible.

The Sparks schedule this season is very challenging. With road trips to four major events including the Coaches Choice USA challenge at Fordham University, the Cortland Shootout, The Commotion by the Ocean at the University of Rhode Island and the season finally the USA Blue Chip Invitational at Penn State University.

Quick translation: Great Italian food in the Bronx, a great steak house in western New York, lobster rolls in Newport and the best bacon you have ever had at State College.

The local schedule features the Gym Rat Challenge, and the Albany Spring Classic both at nearby Siena College, and of course the Thoroughbred Challenge.

As for winning and losing, “There is only one game I want to win this year” shared coach Frank Fazio. “And each year it’s the same game, July 5th at Penn State”

The Penn State tournament is structured unlike the traditional AAU tournament. The Sparks will play a game on July 5th, if they win, they will be placed in the winners bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Basically playing with the top 50% for the field, if they lose, they will be starting off in the losers bracket, the key word there being “losers”.

“We will be preparing all season for this one game, it’s huge for us, if I’m driving four and a half hours thought Amish country on the 4th of July weekend, you better believe I’m serious about winning our first round game... we are going to win this game… we have to” offered coach Turner. “I don’t plan on spending any sad nights at Mad Mex’s bar in the lobby of the Day Inn on Pugh Street, we will prepare, we will go, we will win and we will be seen… that’s the plan”