Attention, Suburban Council. The Shaker boys basketball team is back.
The Blue Bison won their fourth consecutive Suburban Council game Friday by knocking off the last unbeaten team in the league, Saratoga, 55-49 in Latham.
Shaker's victory coupled with Colonie's 75-58 win against Shenendehowa moved the Blue Bison into second place in the Blue Division, two games behind Saratoga.
"We had high expectations this year," said Shaker coach Jeff Holmes. "I felt we could compete with anybody, and we've done that."
The Blue Bison (5-3 league, 6-6 overall) put themselves behind the eight ball last month after consecutive losses to Shen, Columbia and Niskayuna by a combined total deficit of 13 points. But starting with a 54-47 road win against Colonie Dec. 19, Shaker has become one of the hottest teams in the Suburban Council.
"We're feeling pretty confident right now," said Holmes. "We've got a stretch of home games, so we're looking to take advantage of that."
The Blue Bison used their home court advantage against Saratoga. Shaker jumped out to a 17-7 lead after the first quarter, and though Saratoga rallied to tie the game in the third quarter, the Blue Bison had enough left in the fourth quarter to pull away again.
The key, Holmes said, was to keep Saratoga's leading scorers, Jordan Stevens and Garrett Bishop, from fueling the Blue Streaks offense. Though Stevens (20 points) and Bishop (15 points) finished with point totals close to their season averages, none of the other Saratoga players fed off of their efforts.
"We wanted to make certain we helped out (defensively) on Stevens and Bishop. We didn't want them to beat us," said Holmes.
Shaker's leading scorer, Brian Hooks, had an off game, finishing with only seven points. But his teammates picked up the slack. Pat Fallon scored 16 points, Ryan Dare contributed 10 points and Eddie Cross added nine points.
"They were obviously aware of (Hooks) so they focused on him, and that opened things up for our inside guys (Fallon and Dare)," said Holmes.
Shaker looked to keep its winning streak alive Tuesday when it hosted Guilderland. The Blue Bison have one more game before midterm exams week, a Friday night home game against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.""