The Guilderland girls basketball team executed its game plan perfectly against Bethlehem.
The Lady Dutch (2-3 league, 6-3 overall) worked the shot clock to their advantage in the first half and made their free throws down the stretch to defeat Bethlehem (4-2, 6-4) 48-39 in last Friday's Suburban Council South Division game.
Tonight, we came in and knew that we had to take them into the second half, said Guilderland coach Frank Cacckello. "If we could get them into the second half with the lead, then we had a good chance to win the game."
Guilderland built an 18-15 halftime lead by being patient on offense. The Lady Dutch often waited until the 30-second shot clock was below 10 seconds before taking a shot.
"We did not want to take quick shots," said Cacckello. "Bethlehem is too good in transition."
"They're very disciplined, and to their credit, they didn't turn the ball over," said Bethlehem coach Mark Nealon.
Alex McCullough kept the Lady Eagles within striking distance in the second half. The senior center scored nine of her team-high 15 points after halftime including Bethlehem's first seven points of the fourth quarter, which helped the Lady Eagles cut Guilderland's lead to 35-33 with two minutes left in regulation.
Just when Bethlehem thought it was back in the game, Guilderland's Kat Keegan put it out of reach. The junior guard drained two of her five three-pointers in the final 1:55 to give the Lady Dutch a 41-35 lead. Keegan finished with a game-high 17 points.
"That three, there was no hesitation. She must have ice water flowing through her veins," said Cacckello.
"She got open, and she definitely wasn't supposed to be open," said Nealon. "But she was open, and she made her shots."
Free throws also helped Guilderland pull out the win. The Lady Dutch made 17 of their 22 foul shots including a 10-for-12 performance from senior guard Jen Madsen.