There was a glimmer of hope for the Ballston Spa boys basketball team when it tied Shenendehowa at 20 late in the second quarter.
The Plainsmen quickly extinguished that light with a 37-21 second half run to pull away for a 64-43 victory over their Saratoga County neighbors last Friday in Clifton Park.
We told them [at halftime] it starts at the defensive end, said Shen coach Tony Dzikas. "In the second half, I thought we did a good job of tightening the bolts and not giving them any easy shots."
Ballston Spa (3-11 league, 5-11 overall) did what it could to make it tough on first-place Shen (13-0, 14-1). The Scotties challenged for every shot and rebound in the first half, which helped keep the score close.
The problem for Ballston Spa was that it couldn't sustain that level of play " not when the Scotties only had eight players to Shen's 12 players, and not when those eight players weren't in the same physical condition as the Plainsmen.
"They all played hard, but they're all really young," said Ballston Spa coach Tim Moseman. "The off-season will be big for us. We've got to hit the weight room, and we have to get these kids into AAU [summer league teams]."
Fouls were also a critical part of Shen's second-half surge. As the Plainsmen pushed the tempo faster, it was harder for Ballston Spa to avoid fouling Shen's players. By early in the fourth quarter, one Scottie starter " Mark Seager " was on the bench with five fouls, and another starter " Ryan McVeigh " had four fouls.
"When we got into foul trouble, that's what hurt us," said Moseman. "When you have to pull a guy like Ryan McVeigh out of there, that allows them to gain more confidence and start hitting some inside shots."