Shenendehowa, Bethlehem girls clash in defensive battle for title

To quote a Beatles song title, it was A Hard Day's Night for the Shenendehowa and Bethlehem girls basketball teams in Sunday's Suburban Council Division I Tournament final at Albany's Washington Avenue Armory.

The two teams engaged in a hard-fought defensive battle before Shen pulled away for a 44-33 victory.

"It was not our best game, but you never want to go into Sectionals with a loss," said Shen coach Ken Strube.

"No one had a really good game, and it hurts to lose," said Bethlehem coach Mark Nealon. "But we know we can play with the best in the league."

What did in Bethlehem (13-1 league, 18-2 overall) was poor shooting, especially in the second half. The Lady Eagles made only 25 percent of their shots from the field " a percentage that was dragged down by a 3-for-23 effort in the last two quarters.

"They did their very best, but the ball didn't go in," said Nealon. "I'm still proud of them, and they need to know that."

Bethlehem had the early momentum, as it scored the first six points of the game on its way to a 10-5 first quarter lead. Shen (13-1, 16-1) hit only one shot from the field, which came midway through the quarter.

The momentum shifted in the second quarter as the Plainsmen applied a full-court press on Bethlehem, which led to five Lady Eagle turnovers. That helped Shen erase the deficit and take a 20-18 halftime lead.

The turnovers were only one problem Bethlehem had to contend with as Shen held leading scorer Meg Olsen without a point in the first half. Alex McCullough took up some of the scoring slack, but she sat out the final minute of the second quarter after being whistled for her third personal foul.

"We tried to keep the ball out of Olsen's hands," said Strube.

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