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Nisky avoids collapse

A young basketball team goes through periods where it shows its promise and periods where it shows its youth.

The Shaker girls basketball team went through both periods within the course of one overtime game.

Trailing by 15 points early in the fourth quarter, the Blue Bison (0-4 league, 1-5 overall) rallied to tie Niskayuna in the final minute of regulation, only to watch the Silver Warriors (3-1, 4-2) pull away in overtime to a 66-63 Suburban Council victory Friday in Latham.

With only two seniors on the roster, Shaker coach Chris Mazzeo has been going with a collection of juniors, sophomores and freshmen so far this season. And though the Blue Bison have yet to win a league game, they've been competitive in nearly every contest.

I believe that we can play with anyone, said Mazzeo. "It's just a matter of these girls jelling."

If anyone can sympathize with Mazzeo's situation, it's Niskayuna coach Sarah Neely. This is the first time in her varsity coaching career that she's had a senior-dominated lineup, and that level of experience has shown in her team's quick start, which includes a 41-33 victory over Shenendehowa in the Silver Warriors' league opener two weeks ago.

"The team that I have has been playing together since they were in fourth and fifth grade," said Neely. "This program has taken a lot of hits over the last couple of years, but they're starting to play together well."

Niskayuna looked good in the first half against Shaker. Led by the combo of senior forward Beth Halayko and junior guard/forward Emily Bayly, the Silver Warriors powered their way to a 35-18 halftime lead. Halayko scored 11 of her game-high 22 points in the first quarter, while Bayly contributed 13 points over the first two periods.

"I was very happy at halftime. I thought the kids did a really good job at both ends," said Neely.

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