Lady Eagles impressive in debut

A role reversal took place when the Bethlehem and Colonie girls basketball teams met at the Bethlehem Tip-off Tournament last Friday.

Instead of Bethlehem chasing Colonie, it was Colonie chasing Bethlehem down the court.

The Lady Eagles used an aggressive full-court press and pushed the tempo on offense on their way to a 75-45 victory over the Garnet Raiders.

We kind of changed our philosophy and decided to push the ball up the court this year, said Bethlehem coach Mark Nealon.

For years, Colonie had been the team that forced turnovers and made it difficult for opponents to catch their breath. But on this night, the Lady Raiders found themselves turning the ball over and struggling to stay with Bethelehem.

"We were nervous," said Colonie coach Heather Fiore, who started three players with limited varsity experience and two newcomers. "It took us a while to get going. Fortunately, we get to play Bethlehem at least once more if not two more times."

Bethlehem (2-0) got things going late in the first quarter. Forward Sarah Thompson converted a pair of Colonie turnovers into layups at the other end to spark a late run that gave the Lady Eagles a 17-12 lead.

Bethlehem broke the game open in the second quarter at the free throw line. The Lady Eagles made 12 of their 19 foul shots, and center Alex McCullough added three baskets to make the score 41-23 at halftime.

Colonie (0-1) tried to close the gap in the third quarter. Abandoning their full-court press, the Garnet Raiders attempted to slow Bethlehem down with a zone defense. It worked for a little while, but the Lady Eagles ended the quarter with a 12-2 run to increase their lead to 55-31.

"When we broke their press, they switched to zone, and we were very patient in looking for shots," said Nealon.

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