Fast starts help Bethlehem girls at tournament

Sometimes, a good start is all you need.

The Bethlehem girls basketball team proved that theory at last weekend's Lady Dutch Holiday Tournament in Guilderland. The Lady Eagles used strong first quarters to defeat Bishop Maginn 52-44 in last Friday's opener and Horseheads (Section IV) 47-37 in last Saturday's second round.

Both games, we jumped out on the teams and played well early, said Bethlehem coach Mark Nealon. "It was a good way to start the season."

The Lady Eagles (2-0) left little doubt who was the stronger team in last Friday's showdown with Big 10 favorite Bishop Maginn (0-2). They went on a 12-2 run to start the game and built a 28-7 halftime lead before cruising to the eight-point win.

Saturday's game against Horseheads followed a similar pattern. Bethlehem outscored Horseheads 17-9 in the first quarter and never looked back in posting its second win in as many days.

"I liked the way we were able to work our halfcourt sets," said Nealon. "I knew we were going to be able to run and press (on defense), but I wanted to make certain that we could also be patient when we needed to be."

Guard Megan Olsen picked up where she left off last year, as she scored 16 points against Bishop Maginn and a team-high 13 points against Horseheads.

Forward Alex McCullough was Bethlehem's leading scorer against Bishop Maginn with a 17-point night, while forward Jaci Oskam chipped in 12 points in last Friday's game and nine points in last Saturday's victory over Horseheads.

Though Olsen, McCullough and Oskam had big games during the tournament, it was how the entire Bethlehem team performed that left Nealon impressed.

"Everyone got to improve their games a little bit," said Nealon. "These non-league games, you'd like to win them, but it's more important to improve how you play and they did that."

The Lady Eagles returned to action Tuesday when they opened their Suburban Council schedule with a non-league home game against Colonie, one of the teams Nealon said will be a challenger for the South Division title.

"Colonie has its core group of players back. We're not going to take them lightly," he said.

Following Tuesday's game, Bethlehem gets a one-week break before hosting South Division rival Mohonasen on Tuesday, Dec. 9.""

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