ROCHESTER, NY -- Sophomore forward Kayla Wheeler (Clifton Park, NY/Shenendehowa), of the RIT women's basketball team, was named Liberty League Women's Basketball Co-Players of the Week for the week ending December 4, 2011.
Wheeler helped RIT to their best (4th) finish in 19 trips to the Wendy's College Classic last week. The sophomore forward averaged 12.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks in three games. In the opening round game, Wheeler scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out eight assists and had three steals as RIT defeated St. John Fisher 62-60. Her bucket and free throw with 10 seconds remaining in regulation, gave the Tigers a two-point lead. Her steal on Fisher's next possession sealed the win for RIT and advanced the Tigers to the semifinals for the first time in 19 tries at the Wendy's Classic.
In the semis versus Roberts Wesleyan, Wheeler tallied nine points and grabbed nine rebounds.
She wrapped up the week with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the third place game versus William Smith. For the week, Wheeler shot 40.6 percent from the floor and was 11-of-13 (84.6%) from the foul line for the the Tigers.
Wheeler is third on the team in scoring averaging 11.0 points per game and averages 7.3 rebounds per game for the Tigers who are 2-4 on the season.
The Tigers return to action on Sunday, Dec. 11 with a non-conference road game at St. John FIsher. Tip-off at Fisher is 2 pm.
Modest Scotia guard is tough on her opponents By JAMES ALLEN, Staff writer Published 11:35 p.m., Saturday, December 3, 2011
SCOTIA — Asking Cassie Broadhead to talk about her basketball exploits is not an easy proposition, but covering the Scotia junior guard may be the more daunting task.
Broadhead, who is beginning her fourth varsity season with the Tartans, has already provided Brigham Young University coach Jeff Judkins her oral commitment to compete for the Cougars in the 2013-14 season. BYU went 25-9 in 2010-11.
"I'm very relieved. It was so stressful. It is nice to know your future is already set," Broadhead said. "My sisters are out there in Utah and so are so many family members. It is a very nice campus."
Just a junior, Broadhead opened her season Friday night with a game-high 22 points in a 54-31 nonleague victory at Stillwater. That pushed Broadhead's career total to 1,001 points. She is on pace to become one of the top 20 scorers in Section II girls' basketball history.
Not surprisingly, Broadhead was embarrassed by the attention she received after reaching her milestone in the fourth quarter with two free throws.
"It is hard to get her to talk to (the media). She doesn't like to talk about herself. Cassie is very humble," Scotia coach Regan Burns said. "It is a testament to what a great kid Cassie is and the family she has. She makes our program and community look good by the way she handles everything."
Broadhead was noticed by BYU and several other Division I schools during her time in the spring and summer with the Saratoga Sparks. Among her teammates on coach Tony Mingione's 15-and-under squad were Sydnie Rosales (Colonie), Bridget Murphy (Bethlehem), Ailayia Demand (Watervliet), LaShana Tolliver (Watervliet) and Alyssia Marsal (Shenendehowa).
Rosales, also a junior who has given Siena College her oral commitment, teamed with Broadhead in the Sparks' prolific backcourt. The two helped lead the team to a top-10 finish at the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Fla. "I'd give the ball to her and she'd make me look good. We had a lot of fun playing together," Broadhead said of Rosales.
"Sydnie is a great kid and has great talent. Cassie was playing with the best competition in the area. Those two really pushed each other," Burns said.
As a sophomore at Scotia, Broadhead earned her second straight Foothills Council Most Valuable Player award after averaging 17.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.7 steals per game for the Tartans.
"Every year, Cassie has improved her game tremendously. She is a lot better than she was last year," Burns said. "BYU, between her play at elite camps, AAU and workouts, could see her work ethic and how much she is willing to work in the future. You can see that drive."
A third-team state Class A all-star selection, Broadhead helped Scotia advance to its first appearance in the Section II Class A semifinals. Despite a game-high 18 points by Broadhead, the top-seeded Tartans fell to No. 4 Averill Park 49-36. The Warriors, just 7-11 during the regular season, went on to play in the state title game.
"It is hard to talk about it," Broadhead said. "It was difficult because I don't think we came to our full potential. Anytime you don't succeed or reach your potential, it is always a big disappointment."
"Last year, she was still only a sophomore and Cassie led by her talent. She's now taking a more active role with her teammates," Burns said. "As a younger player, she didn't want to step on toes. She doesn't have that option now."
Broadhead's resolve to get better is unwavering. Her natural ability to score and distribute to teammates show Broadhead is special and her maturity and relentless pursuit of improvement make the junior a must-see player.
The Sparks are pleased to announce that Emily Weber will be playing college basketball at Canisius College of the MAAC. Emily has signed a letter of intent to accept a full scholarship to play basketball for Canisius next year. The 5'-9" shooting guard from Shenendehowa played with the Sparks for six years.
Emily has been a Shenendehowa varsity player for 4 years. She is also a two time News Channel 13 All-Star and was the Suburban Council MVP for 2010/11 season. Emily has led Shenendehowa in scoring for the past two years and is poised to become a 1000 point career scorer this year.
Emily played on Sparks teams that competed at National Tournaments and other high profile events. It was during these tournaments that she was noticed by dozens of D-1 coaches and offered numerous opportunities to play basketball at their schools. She chooce Canisius due to their education and basketball opportunities.
Emily has an 92% GPA and has always been on high honor roll. She will major in business administration and would like to pursue a career in marketing. If she brings the same dedication to her career as she has to her studies and basketball she will undoubtably be successful.
Broadhead Going West
Saturday, November 12, 2011
The Sparks are proud to announce that Cassie Broadhead will be achieving her dream by heading to Division I Brigham Young University. She has been offered a full scholarship to play basketball which she has verbally accepted. The 5'8" point guard from Scotia has led her high school in scoring and assists for the last two years. She has been a varsity player since the 8th grade. She is also a two time News Channel 13 All-Star.
Broadhead has had an outstanding career with the Sparks. She's played on two National top ten teams. She was elected a team captain and finished second on the team in scoring, assists and steals. Her desire, competitiveness and leadership were noticed by numerous D-1 coaches.
Although Cassie has played basketball since she could walk, she has more than that going for her. She has not announced a major yet but she is interested in animal husbandry. Currently she cares for horses, cows and chickens on the family farm. Cassie is also very active in her church, Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
What is clear is that Cassie will bring all of her considerable skills and talents to work for BYU and whatever she decides to do.
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 16U Embarked on University Park
Monday, July 11, 2011
The Saratoga Sparks 16U Orange team embarked on UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa the week of July 4th to compete in The Blue Chip Basketball's USA Invitational at Penn State. Over 300 AAU teams participate in this NCAA-certified event. This was a perfect opportunity for the Saratoga Sparks 16U Orange girls to display their talents in front of hundreds of college coaches that attended this prestigious LIVE period showcase event. I am pleased to say that we did not disappoint. Going 3 and 3 with an average margin of loss by 3 points and an average margin of wins by 20 points or better, the Saratoga Sparks 16U team was poised to deliver some impressive performances in this four day competition played on 27 courts in five different venues.
Roxanne Gibbs really showcased all of her abilities at the right time. She averaged more than 12 rebounds a game and score double figures in 4 of the six contests. Playing much taller than her 5’11” frame, Roxanne’s (Roxie) physical presence was felt by all of her opponents as she ripped down rebounds and forced many jump balls in pursuit of an excellent showing in front of the many college scouts that attended this enormous tournament event. My’Asia “The Jet” Alston mesmerized her opponents with her outstanding speed and quickness as she blew by those who covered her. Sharing the roles of the point and shooting guard, she also knocked down the three ball pretty consistently and defensively, she was equally as impressive. She was relentless in causing turnovers in route to converting two points for the Sparks on the offensive end.
MaryKate Cusack also had an impressive tournament as she played the role of an assassin with her 3-point marksmanship from well beyond the arc. She clearly established herself during this tournament as marquee shooter by the voices of every team’s coach we played yelling out, “Number 5 is the shooter.” This was like free publicity for those scouting her talents and hearing the opponents coaches shout out to their players about her being the shooter. Amanda “Mandy” Batzold had an outstanding tournament, even to the tune of receiving six stitches in her lip from and elbow. Nothing, however, was going to stop her from showcasing her abilities and helping this Sparks team have a great showing during this invitational. She averaged 15 points, with a 27 point game explosion, collected eight rebounds, handed out 7 assist and lead the team in steals. Overall she had an impressive tournament performance. Christina “Nina” Spicer acted as our pint-sized small forward and played this role like no other. Using every ounce of her body, she went after every loose ball and grabbed rebounds. She was tenacious on defense and made her contributions offensively when our opponents keyed heavily on our other players. Makenzie Pratt and Alyssa Craig also contributed to the great showing at Penn State. In the absence of three of our players, Alyssia Marsal from our 15U Orange National Team decided to make the trip with our team and play with us for four games. Her presence with this team was instrumental and helped reflect our record during the four days at University Park. As a coach, words cannot express how far these girls have come in preparation for a tournament such as the one at Penn State. I am beyond proud and extremely grateful to have work with such a wonderful group of athletes. The parents of all these girls are to be commended for their unwavering support all season long. As an organization, the Sparks should be extremely proud of the representation that this team of girls demonstrated the entire season. Had any of you been able to observe our girls in action, you would be smiling like I have on so many occasions. All the best to our 15U team in Florida; go get them.
Thank You, My’Asia, MaryKate, Amanda, Makenzie, Roxanne, Lindsay, Alyssa, Jennifer, Christina, Kylie & honorary team member Alyssia Marsal.
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.
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.
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.
The Saratoga Sparks are thrilled to announce that Ashley McCaughan will be attendingBrooklyn College this fall and will be playing college basketball for the Bulldogs.
The 5’-3” pesky point guard from Niskayuna HIgh School lead her Sparks team last season in scoring, averaging nearly eight points per game, she also finished second in rebounding.
McCaughan had a memorable career with the Sparks. Her efforts last season during the USA Invitational at Penn State University helped the Sparks secure an 11th place finish while she was recognized twice as game MVP.
Ashley will be studying Broadcast Journalism come August which is right up her alley. Her positive attitude, focus on self improvement and gift of gab were strengths on the basketball court that will most certainly help her through school and beyond, perhaps even one day “Live, from studio 1A” Congratulations to Ashley and her family, we all look forward to watching her excel at the next level, both on the court and in the classroom.
Rosales, Batzold & Spicer Selected to Troy Record All-Area Team
Thursday, May 05, 2011
The Troy Record All Area Girls Basketball Team was announced on Monday May 2nd and three Saratoga Sparks received honors.
Third Teams Selections, All-Area, Sophomore Sydnie Rosales from Colonie High School, Junior Amanda Batzold from Columbia High School and Junior Christina Spicer from the Academy of the Holy Names.
The Sparks organization is proud of their achievements and wishing our young athletes continued success on and off the basketball court.
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.
The organization would like to congratulate long time Saratoga Spark Taylor Whyte. The 6’1” center from Ballston Spa will be shipping off to Boston this fall to attend the University of Massachusetts. Taylor will be studying hard towards earning a degree in psychology, skills that would have been handy to have during her last AAU season while dealing with a coach with bipolar disorder.
We are all proud of Taylor's accomplishments as a member of the Saratoga Sparks and wish her the best as she starts the next chapter of her education while kicking off her college basketball career. We would also like to thank her parents, Donna and Mark, who have donated their time and talents over the years. Mark is responsible for many of the action photos that we proudly display on this website. The next generation of Sparks will probably be hand drawn.
Broadhead, Conley and Sanboeuf Grab Foothills Council Honors
The Foothills Council released the names of their girls basketball all-stars and three Saratoga Sparks received honors. The Organization is very proud of their individual achievements this past season and would like to congratulate each of the players and their families on their selections.
Sophomore Cassie Broadhead of Scotia High School was named league MVP while senior center Danielle Conley and senior guard Kaila Sanboeuf each received notice. Conley was selected to the First Team while Sanboeuf received honorable mention. All three of these talented young ladies were teammates last season with Scotia High School and they lead the Tartans to a near perfect 19-1 record.
Once again, the organization would like to congratulate each of the players selected, we are all looking forward to hearing more about their accomplishments during the upcoming AAU season and within the college ranks.
Tetrault, Demand, Tolliver, Alston, Beauchamp and Dequire recieve All-City Honors
The Troy Record All-City Girls Basketball All-star team was announced recently and six Sparks received honors. The Organization is proud of their achievements this past season and would like to congratulate each of the players and their families on their selections.
First team selections included sophomore Ailayia Demand of Watervliet High School and senior Bailei Tetrault of Cohoes High School. Second team selections included junior My’Asia Alston of Cohoes High School and sophomore Lashana Tolliver of Watervliet High School.
Sophomore Mikayla Deguire of Watervliet High School and senior Danielle Beauchamp of Cohoes High School each received Honorable Mention.
Once again, congratulation to each of the players selected, we are all looking forward to a hearing more about these young ladies during the upcoming AAU season and beyond.
Batzold, Rosales and Murphy selected Suburban Council Allstars
The 2010-11 Suburban Council Girls Basketball All-star team was announced this past week and four Sparks received honors. The Organization is proud of their achievements this past season and would like to congratulate each of the players and their families on their selections.
First team selection sophomore Sydnie Rosales of Colonie High School. Second team selections were junior Amanda Batzold of Columbia High School and sophomore Bridget Murphy of Bethlehem High School.
Once again, congratulation to each of the players selected, we are all looking forward to a hearing more about these young ladies during the upcoming AAU season as Saratoga Sparks.
The Saratoga Sparks are very proud to announce that Alexis Perryman will be heading to Elmira College this fall. The 5'-10" guard from Queensbury HIgh School will be studying to become a teacher while helping the Souring Eagles complete in the Elite 8 Conference.
Perryman had a fantastic career with the Sparks averaging almost nine points while collecting 3.2 steals per game. Her efforts during the USA Invitational at Penn State University helped the Sparks secure an 11th place finish. Elmira College is getting one of the best all a round guards in the Capital District.
We wish Alexis well as she starts her college career and thank her and her family for their contributions and dedication to the Sparks program.
The Saratoga Sparks are pleased to announce that for the second year in a row, Scotia Glenville point guard Cassie Broadhead has been named to the NewsChannel 13 All-Star team. Cassie is averaging eighteen points a game helping the her seventh ranked Tartans remain undefeated this season. Last summer Cassie was a member of the Saratoga Sparks freshman team which traveled to Orlando Florida to compete in the AAU Nationals where the Sparks finished 6th.
Broadhead joins fellow Spark Emily Weber on the current list of five. Congratulations to Cassie and her family for this great accomplishment.
The Saratoga Sparks organization would like to recognized the efforts Kalia Sanboeuf, Danielle Conley and Cassie Broadhead who were all featured in an article this week by the Schenectady Gazette. If you subscribe to the Gazette you can enjoy the story.
The trio of Sparks have lead the 7th ranked Class A Tartans to a 12-0 start during the 2010-2011 campaign.Sanboeuf and Broadhead led the Tartans with five steals apiece, and Danielle Conley had four of Scotia-Glenville's six blocked shots. Their efforts helped the Tartans pin down the South Glens Falls Bulldogs for a second time, following a 49-31 season-opening triumph over their longtime rival.
COHOES -- The opening night of the season for the Cohoes High girls' basketball team proved to be an eye-opening experience as perennial small-school power Hoosic Valley's suffocating man-to-man defense helped the Indians post a 54-34 win Nov. 30.
"It was a really tough way to start. We thought we'd give them a better battle than that," Cohoes senior Bailei Tetrault said. "They have the best defense around." Things didn't get much better for Cohoes three nights later in its Colonial Council opener against defending league champion Holy Names as the Tigers dropped a 41-34 decision.
The team, which spent six nights a week together throughout the summer competing in four leagues and working together in two open gym nights, hoped for better than an 0-2 start. All the difficult beginning did for the Tigers is make them work even harder. That resolve, and the subsequent results, speak for themselves.
The Tigers (9-2, 8-1) have climbed to the No. 8 ranking in the latest state Class B poll on the strength of a nine-game winning streak. Cohoes looks to make it 10 in a row Friday when it hosts Holy Names (10-1, 8-1) in a showdown for first place in the Colonial Council Patriot Division. Game time is 7. Cohoes has captured those nine games by an average margin of victory of 28 points. The only close contest during that span was when the Tigers edged Watervliet -- ranked No. 3 in the state Class B poll at that time -- 54-53.
"I'm really happy with the way we're playing," Cohoes coach Dan Hytko said. "They've handled the adjustments we've put in. I can't ask them to play much better. It has been a combination of the defense we're playing and making good decisions on the offensive end."
"Our confidence level is higher and we're really starting to click now," said Tetrault, who is second on the team at 11.8 points per game. Among its triumphs during the winning streak are impressive league victories over Ravena (53-30), Mechanicville (71-43) and Fonda (63-27). The Tigers also avenged their loss to Hoosic Valley with a 53-32 decision Dec. 30.
"They are good, but we got them the last time," said Cohoes junior guard My'Asia Alston, who leads the Tigers in scoring at 14.9 ppg.
"We knew we had the potential and we've worked really hard in practice. Everything is coming together," Tetrault said.
In addition to the backcourt combination of Alston and Tetrault, Hytko starts senior forward Danielle Beachamp (8.7 ppg), junior center Roxanne Gibbs (6.8 ppg) and junior center Sarah McDonald (4.5 ppg). Alston, a 5-foot-7 dynamo, has scored in double digits all 11 games, including her best performance of the season in the victory over Watervliet: 29 points, six rebounds and six assists.
"She really plays flat out. My'Asia works so hard at both ends, and I just let her play," Hytko said. "She is relentless."
Tetrault brings a more cerebral approach.
"Bailei and My'Asia really compliment each other well," Hytko said. "Bailei can go fast or slow. She sees what works and goes with it." Even though they are the Tigers' top two scorers, both Alston and Tetrault said their favorite thing to do is pass. I get more of a thrill making a great pass than scoring two points," Tetrault said.
Hytko classifies Gibbs and McDonald as the team's "unsung heroes." Gibbs has scored in double figures three times and McDonald has tallied points in every game with a high of seven. "It is the rebounding and the defense those two have played that has really helped us," Hytko said of his 5-11 junior post tandem.
Beachamp has alternated between guard and forward, depending on which five players are on the floor. The senior's versatility has been a real asset. "She rebounds well and moves without the ball. She has really been important to our success," Hytko said. "Everyone is handling their roles well." "Without one person, we wouldn't be where we are," Tetrault said.
The organization would like to congratulate long time Saratoga Spark Megan Rogers. The 5’11” forward from Shenendehowa will be moving to Williamstown Massachusetts to attend classes and play basketball for Williams College. Williams is currently ranked 8th in a USA Today ESPN poll and has moved up from 13th to 12th in a D3Hoops national poll.
Rogers has excelled both on the hardwood and in the classroom in order to earn her opportunity to wear the purple and gold next season. Megan has a brilliant basketball resume which includes winning a Section II Championship in 2009 and playing a huge role in the Class AA State Championship game in 2010. She also lead her 2010 Sparks team to an eleventh place finish at the USA Invitational at Penn State University last summer.
We are all proud of Megan’s accomplishments as a member of the Saratoga Sparks and wish her the best as she moves into the college ranks. We would also like to thank her parents, Eileen and John, who have donated their time and talents over the years to help our organization grow in the right direction.
SCOTIA -- Cassie Broadhead earned the Foothills Council Most Valuable Player award as a freshman guard in 2010, and naturally that meant she was going to earn even more attention from opponents this season.
Broadhead is not scoring as much as she did during the 2009-10 campaign, but it has very little to do with any new defensive scheme or the added attention she now receives. It has everything to do with the improved play of senior center Danielle Conley and junior guard Sarah Janson. "The last few years, we were a strong team. I think our experience is helping us as Sarah, Cassie and myself are all in our third year," Conley said.
"Our teamwork has really stepped up this year. Everyone is so unselfish," Broadhead said. "Our main goal is to win. One of the easiest and best ways to do that is pass the ball."
The Tartans (11-0, 7-0) lead the Foothills Council standings and are ranked No. 8 in the state Class A poll.
Broadhead is on pace to score her 1,000th career point before the end of the season. She leads the team with averages of 16.5 points and 4.6 assists per game. Broadhead is also averaging 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 steals per outing.
“Cassie understands the game. When teams double-team her, she is making the extra pass," Scotia coach Regan Burns said. "Her game has elevated. All three of them have. You can't live and die with one player."
"When you have three players playing at their peak -- along with the role players playing well -- everything goes well and you succeed," Broadhead said.
Conley, who is averaging 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game, is a viable low-post threat.
"Danielle does so well on the boards and gets a lot of putbacks. She works hard for them," Burns said. "They look like easy points, but they are not. When she feels the pressure around her, see kicks the ball out to Cassie and Sarah."
In prior seasons, Janson would hesitate to shoot from the perimeter. Not anymore.
"I worked hard in the off-season to improve. I think the other part of it is teams are trying to shut down Cassie, so I'm getting more chances to be open," Janson said. Janson is averaging 13.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 4.5 steals per game.
"Her game was one-dimensional -- penetrate, penetrate, penetrate. This year, she can take the outside shot or go one dribble for the pull-up," Burns said. "She is much more dangerous. Teams would defend her just for the drive and now she is taking shots right in front of them."
"I think it is experience and confidence. I know I can make them. When some team is trying to shut down Cassie, I know I can step up and score," Janson said.
Scotia has never advanced beyond the Class A quarterfinals. Broadhead, Conley and Janson want to change that fact.
Emily Weber, Shen's junior guard has been named the first News Channel 13 All-Star. Emily is averaging 20 points and seven rebounds per game. She is Shen's leading scorer. Emily is a 3 year starter who helped lead Shen to the NYS Class AA finals last season. She has been playing for the Sparks since 5th grade and last year as a 15 year old participated in the National AAU tournament in Orlando.
WATERVLIET -- Lashana Tolliver has been a vital part of two Section II girls' basketball championship basketball teams at Watervliet, yet the talented 6-foot-1 sophomore center was never as committed to the team as she is this season.
"My first two years, I was immature and I wasn't really focused on basketball. I wanted to hang out with my friends and I didn't want to be in practice," Tolliver said. "Now every day, I'm ready to be in practice. I'm doing all my work in school just thinking about practice."
"It is just maturity. That is all it is," Watervliet coach Gordie Johnson said. "She is still only a sophomore playing on the varsity basketball team. She was a big part of what we did the last two years, but she didn't always understand she needed to work every single minute. Now she does. When she comes in here, she works every single minute."
Hard work first paid off over the summer for Tolliver, who played along with Watervliet sophomore guard Ailayia Demand on the Saratoga Sparks' squad that finished sixth in the country in July at the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Fla.
"I improved some of my post skills, I'm handling the ball better and I'm keeping the ball higher," Tolliver said.
Some of Tolliver's teammates on the Sparks included current varsity stars Syndie Rosales (Colonie), Jackie Welsh (Colonie), Madison Rowland (Shaker), Cassie Broadhead (Scotia) and Kelsey Cowell (Mohonasen).
"It is a great team -- one of the best AAU teams to come out of this area in a long time," Johnson said. "It opened her eyes to what else is out there and she knows there are a lot of other good players. I think she is starting to realize what it takes to get to the next level. Lashana's scratching the surface."
Before working her way back to the basketball court for Johnson, Tolliver played on the Watervliet JV football team at wide receiver.
"Nobody was for it: her mom or myself, but she really wanted to do it," Johnson said. "She actually caught a touchdown and my whole team was at the game. She dragged three kids from the 10-yard line into the end zone. The kids came running over to tell me. I think that experience helped her."
Tolliver has always been difficult to move in the paint, but she is even tougher physically now and is much more dedicated to her craft. The sophomore is averaging 13.3 points and 12.2 rebounds per game for the Cannoneers (8-0), currently ranked No. 3 in the latest state Class B poll. Those averages could be even higher, but Watervliet has won several games by lopsided margins and that has cut into Tolliver's playing time.
"We're working as a team better. It is going to be a good season," Tolliver said. "I knew our team had potential. Now it is just showing." Johnson always knew Tolliver was a special player. His mission was to get her to believe it, and then put in the work necessary to realize her vast potential. Tolliver remembers Johnson's message was the same to her even when she was a reserve as an eighth-grader.
"I was scared of him at first, but I listened to everything he said," Tolliver said. "He kept telling me how good I could be, but that I needed to work harder. ... Me and coach have a strong relationship. I see him as a father figure and a coach. He teaches me a lot."
"She stepped into a starting job this year and Lashana was talented enough to start last year, but she wasn't mentally ready," Johnson said. "It is obvious to everybody she is ready now. I think she is one of the best post players in the area. I really do."
Even though he is quite pleased with Tolliver's progression, Johnson is not about to let up on the sophomore. And Tolliver would not want him to. "I'm very privileged to be on such a great team," Tolliver said. "I want to play in college, so I have keep my schoolwork up and stay out of the doghouse with coach Johnson."I think we made the right move bringing her up as an eighth-grader," Johnson said. "I only think Lashana has reached 50 percent of her potential. She has the ability to be a scholarship player, and she knows that now."
Reach James Allen at 454-5062 or firstname.lastname@example.org.