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VOORHEESVILLE: Birds help next generation

The parents call them Charlie's Angels. The players call them by their first names.

They are Sarah Belenchia, Jenna Massaroni and Alyssa Schultz " Voorheesville girls basketball players during the week, and coaches of the St. Matthew's Jazz third- and fourth-grade CYO team on weekends.

The Clayton A. Bouton High School seniors volunteered to coach the house league team last fall, and they said the experience has been fun so far.

"We knew a lot about the game, and we wanted to share our knowledge," said Belenchia.

The knowledge they've passed on has turned the Jazz into one of the best teams in their division. St. Matthew's improved its record to 6-0 Saturday with a 48-15 victory over a team from Altamont, and the Jazz have scored at least 40 points in each of their games " a rarity among teams at that age level.

"We brought a couple of plays over from our high school team, and we've also thought of some simple plays that we can try," said Massaroni.

The success Belenchia, Massaroni and Schultz are enjoying with the Jazz is in stark contrast to the struggles they and their Voorheesville teammates have dealt with in the Colonial Council. The Blackbirds finished 5-11 in the league following Friday's 70-44 loss to first-place Watervliet.

"We wanted to prove what we can do (as coaches) so much, especially with the high school team not doing so well," said Belenchia.

"I think they're just quality coaches," said Voorheesville girls varsity coach Jon McClement. "They're doing a great job now, but we always talk about giving back (to the community), and they're doing a great job of giving back."

Not everyone was thrilled with the thought of teen-agers coaching a youth basketball team, but Belenchia, Massaroni and Schultz won them over with their team-first approach and working with all nine players to improve their skills.

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