The Shenendehowa girls basketball team gets a chance to catch its breath.
The Plainsmen are in the midst of a 17-day break for Christmas vacation a time period during which they normally would have held their annual holiday tournament, but it was scrapped this year due to statewide scheduling cuts.
Shen coach Ken Strube said he decided to give his team a vacation now and a challenge at the end of the season by accepting an invitation to play in the Lockport Kiwanis Tournament in mid February.
Given the alternative of playing during the break and then play sparingly down the stretch, you don't get the opportunity to play on a regular basis before the playoffs," said Strube.
The Plainsmen (4-1) could use some time off after a grueling start to the season that included games against Shaker, Colonie and Averill Park in a 17-day stretch.
"We're kind of enjoying the break," said Strube. "We took two days off for the first time since tryouts, which were back in the middle of November. Other than that, it's been six days on and one day off."
Shen looked good in winning its first four games, but then the Plainsmen ran into an equally red-hot Averill Park squad and lost 45-36 last Friday in Clifton Park. The Warriors placed three players in double figures led by 12-point performances from Katie Duma and Michela Ottati, and they challenged every shot that the Plainsmen took. Emily Weber led Shen's offense with seven points.
"It was a very tough game for both teams," said Strube. "Neither team scored a lot of points, but that's what happens when two outstanding defensive teams go head to head. The offenses don't get a chance to shine too much."
Strube said he sees a positive in the Averill Park game. "When you play a team as tough defensively as Averill Park, it makes playing other teams' defenses look a little easier," he said. "Not to say that other teams don't play tough defense, but I don't think any team plays as tough defensively as Averill Park. So, to see that in an early-season game is an advantage."