DELMAR The Bethlehem and Guilderland girls basketball teams entered Friday night's Suburban Council matchup with identical league records of 6-6 and in a deadlock for third place in the South Division.
But for the second time this season, the Eagles posted a convincing victory over the visiting Lady Dutch. Friday's 52-35 drubbing moves Bethlehem into third place behind Colonie and Averill Park.
"I am very pleased with our effort tonight," said Bethlehem coach Matthew Bixby, whose team defeated Guilderland by 10 points in early December. "It's always tough to beat a team twice. We played extremely well and intelligent. This may have been our best defensive performance all year.''
Guilderland managed just 13 points the first half, as Bethlehem pulled away to an eight-point halftime lead on Senior Night.
"They (Guilderland) earned every point they scored," Bixby said. "They didn't have many open looks, but when the shots were there they knocked them down."
Guilderland got out to an 8-3 lead with 3:12 remaining in the opening quarter before Bethlehem woke up. The Eagles scored the final eight points of the period, and then held the Lady Dutch to just one field goal and three free-throws in the second quarter to grab a 22-13 halftime lead.
"Offensively, we didn't use our screeners like we needed to," said a frustrated Guilderland coach Frank Cacckello. "We were waiting too long to shoot or get the ball inside, and then we were forced to take a long shot. Give full credit to their defense. Our inability to scored had to do with what Bethlehem did, so give full credit to their defense. We didn't meet the challenge."
Caccckello's disappointment may have been a result of his team coming into the game with a three game winning streak, which were all road games.
"Their (Bethlehem's) defense denied us to initiate our offense, especially on the wings'' said Guilderland point-guard Briana Beaver-Timmons. "We didn't move the ball well and spent too much time trying to pass it around. Then defensively, we didn't have enough energy to stop their offense."