In Frank Cacckello's eyes, the Guilderland girls basketball team showed more in its 42-35 loss to Colonie than in its 42-36 victory over Averill Park in last week-end's Bethlehem Tip-off Classic.
Tournament games are funny, said Cacckello. "I thought we played well in the first game (against Colonie), and I think it took a lot out of us."
The Lady Dutch (1-1) were flat through the first half of Saturday's game against Averill Park, but came to life in the third quarter by opening with a 14-2 run that gave them a 31-20 lead.
The Warriors battled back and closed the gap to one point midway through the fourth quarter, but a key three-pointer by Nikki Branchini and clutch free throws from Mackenzie Michele and Kristin Pezze sealed Guilderland's victory.
"When you've got seniors on the floor, that helps a lot," said Cacckello. "And Nikki (Branchini) didn't think twice about taking that three-pointer. That's what I loved about that play."
Pezze finished with 14 points, and Mary Kate O'Connell contributed 10 points for the Lady Dutch. Katie Duma led Averill Park with 10 points.
Guilderland's offense performed well against Colonie's aggressive defense for three of the four quarters in last Friday's opening round game. The exception was the second quarter, when the Lady Raiders outscored the Lady Dutch 16-5 to take a 21-13 halftime lead.
Jessica Coles scored 16 points, and Logan Pintka added 10 points for Colonie. O'Connell netted 10 points, while Pezze and Branchini each chipped in eight points for Guilderland.
The Bethlehem Tip-off Festival games helped the Lady Dutch get acclimated to the level of play that the Suburban Council will feature this season.
"I don't know if there is better balance than this season. All three divisions are solid," said Cacckello.""