The Bethlehem girls basketball team defeated Averill Park 56-44 in an exciting Suburban Council game Tuesday.
The Eagles came out playing strong defense, tipping or stealing almost every pass attempt. But Averill Park did not quit. The Warriors played strong defense of their own especially on seniors Megan Olsen and Alex McCullough. Olsen -- Bethlehem's leading scorer -- was held to five points, and McCullough was limited to two points in the first half.
Obviously, they made an effort to say, 'You know what? In order to beat Bethlehem, we've got to shut down Olsen, and we've got to shut down McCullough,' and they did a good job, said Bethlehem coach Mark Nealon.
Despite this, Bethlehem led 28-18 at halftime because of a great performance by Jaclyn Oskam, who scored 10 points in the opening 16 minutes.
"Meg struggled a bit, but that frees up somebody (else), and Jackie had a fantastic game," said Nealon.
Bethlehem's defense was still strong in the third quarter, forcing Averill Park to take bad shots from the perimeter. At the other end, the Warriors continued to make Olsen force shots, which Nealon said he's fine with.
"I'm absolutely OK with the shots that she takes," said Nealon. "She has played for me for four years, and she is one of the most unselfish players I know of. I want her shooting the basketball."
Averill Park standout Katie Duma led her team back into the game. She scored several points to help the Warriors cut the deficit down to single digits.
"Katie is a tough match-up, and she has been playing varsity basketball for a long time, too," said Nealon. "The hard thing about Katie is that when you put a quick guard on her, she can go down (low) and post you up, and when you put a forward out there, she can go by people."