Bethlehem wins defensive battle

Friday's Bethlehem-Guilderland boys basketball game was not for people who enjoy high-scoring contests.

Both teams struggled shooting the ball all night, but Bethlehem pulled together a late run to defeat Guilderland 34-31 for its second consecutive Suburban Council victory.

We'll take the win any way we can get it, said Bethlehem coach A.G. Irons.

"I'm very pleased with our effort," said Guiilderland coach Ron Osinski. "I thought we played very good defense."

The Dutchmen (2-7 league, 3-8 overall) entered the game shorthanded as two of Osinski's starters were recovering from concussions, and a third " Ryan Ochs " was nursing an ankle injury. And it got worse for Guilderland after another player left with an ankle injury.

"It's been tough because you think you know your team and what your player rotations should be, and then these injuries happen and you suddenly don't have these kids," said Osinski.

Still, Guilderland battled its way into a 27-21 lead after three quarters, thanks to tough defense.

"They ran a lot of 1-2-2 trap and three-quarter court [defense] to slow the game down, and it worked," said Irons. "Every time down the floor, it took us eight to 10 seconds just to get into an offensive set."

Bethlehem (2-7, 2-9) finally came alive in the fourth quarter, as it scored 13 points to squeeze out the three-point victory.

"Nothing was falling for either team. I think the shooting percentages were terrible," said Irons. "Both teams were playing really good defense, but at the same time, both teams didn't shoot well."

Ryan Stempsey scored eight points, and John Morrill contributed seven points for the Eagles, who had suffered several close losses before beating Columbia and Guilderland last week.

"Obviously it was tough during that opening stretch, and at any time the guys could have given up. But they didn't give up," said Irons.

Andrew Brown netted eight points for Guilderland, while Jordan Weeden added seven points.

Both teams had tough challenges Tuesday. Bethlehem hosted undefeated Shenendehowa, while Guilderland played Niskayuna.

"They're the ones trying to protect their undefeated season. We have nothing to lose," Irons said of facing Shen, which downed Saratoga Springs 79-64 Friday. "So, we're going to go after them and see what happens.""

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