MECHANICVILLE, N.Y. -- The Red Raiders girls basketball team picked up right where it left off last season -- running.
Mechanicville head coach Blain Goverski didn’t hold anything back against his very young and rebuilding alma mater Catholic Central Thursday night as the Red Raiders dominated at home, 58-32.
“We've got some good athletic girls to put a lot of pressure on and turn teams over and create offense, that's our bread and butter right now,” Blain Goverski said about his defending Section II Class B champions. “It was last year too with Jada (Brown), Charli (Goverski) and Amy (DiSiena), they're getting their hands on balls and then creating for their other teammates.
“If we keep that going, playing unselfish and keep running the court good things are happening.”
The Red Raiders doubled up the Crusaders in the opening stanza, running out to an 18-9 lead and then continued to add into the halftime, 36-17.
Things came back to Earth during a messy 10-7 third quarter leading up to the 58-32 final.
Goverski led the Red Raiders with a game-high 18 points with DiSiena dropping in 15 with Brown as the facilitator throughout the contest.
“We're older so we should be able to run our sets and feel confident when with the ball and we really didn't get comfortable really on the offensive end,” Goverski said. “Credit to their defense, their man-to-man, they played hard. Catholic High, my alma mater, I know they've got a lot of tradition over there in basketball and that was a great thing.”
Goverski, in his sixth year with the Mechanicville girls program spent the previous six at Catholic High as the boys coach.
After helping build the Red Raiders into a contender and now champion, he has to get used to having a target on his back.
“It's taken us a long time to get to where we wanted to be and we finally got there, but that's the whole thing. I'm not even experienced in knowing how that feels,” Goverski said. “For us together as a team here in Mechanicville, it's a good thing to have, those expectations, those pressures and everybody's 'A' game. We're going to have to keep on preparing, working hard and staying focused to do what we have to do.”
On the other side of the timeline, Catholic High’s Audra DiBacco’s roster includes just one senior, starting guard Sophia McDonald along with three juniors, including starting guards Sarah Boucher and Sarah Matfield.
“That's O.K. with us, this group is working hard,” Audra DiBacco said. “It may not show in the score today, but work hard, play hard, think some of it was jitters for a lot of new players, everybody played.
“As the season progresses that's going to be O.K. We're going to lose those jitters because they're not going to be freshman anymore.”
Matfield led the Crusaders with a team-high 12 points with freshman Angelena Giuliano adding eight and sophomore center Brenna Graber dropping in six.
It was hard to call Thursday night a moral victory for the Crusaders, but DiBacco was ready to put a ‘W’ in the effort column.
“They were the Section 2 Class B champs, semifinalists in the states, they're a good team, they didn't lose any body from that team, they brought in other, younger kids that are just as good,” DiBacco said. “We're young, we see them again and hopefully by that time those jitters are gone.
“I said 'You're going to make mistakes, just play through it.' They made mistakes too, they made less than we did, but it's easy to give them the ball at three-quarter court and score lay-ups versus running offense.”
Mechanicville’s cohesiveness and quick hands created turnovers and multiple easy lay-ups as the Red Raiders found each other on the way to the basket, something Catholic High is striving to find.
“I thought we passed up shots at time to give to the next player,” DiBacco said. “We were so unselfish that we didn't shoot shots, we tried to get the next player a shot. Sometimes we have to be a little bit more selfish and shoot the ball.”
Both squads have goals and systems to measure them with, some include banners and some include a feeling of success.
“We might take some lumps here and there, but at the end of the day, the end of the season, that's when we should be in our prime and that's when everything matters,” DiBacco said. “By the end of the season, if we're not 1000 percent better than we were today I would be disappointed.”