CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. -- Sometimes it’s good to start to start a new year with a new class and a challenging pop quiz to see where your students are at.
Shenendehowa High School business teacher and girls varsity basketball coach Joe Murphy was able to provide that and more, not only for his squad but also Class A powerhouse Averill Park as Syracuse-area top teams Cicero-North Syracuse and Jamesville-DeWitt visited the Plainsmen last weekend.
“We've gone out to Jamesville-DeWitt the last couple of years, played them and then we had to go to seven non-league games games I mentioned it those guys,’ Hey you want to do it?’ Joe Murphy said. “Maybe we'll come out to you and do two games. I'll try to get Averill Park and Sean (Organ) was all aboard right away, which was awesome to get four top level teams to play together on the same weekend.
“It’s a great opportunity to play two out of the area teams that do two different things because (Jessica) Cook (Cicero) on the inside and then the guards for Jamesville-DeWitt is a way for us to see how we match-up because we'll see that down the road.”
The Saturday/Sunday afternoon match-up allowed time for rest and travel with the Plainsmen earning two non-league wins, 80-46 over Cicero-North Syracuse and 74-45 over Jamesville-DeWitt.
“I'm almost more excited about today's victory because yesterday we shot lights out,” Murphy said. “We were at 10 or 13 in the first half from three yesterday and today we had to find different ways to win. We started slow, but they just found ways.
“They played solid defense and different kids stepped up. We got foul trouble and other kids stepped up and you know, Meg (Huerter) was Meg.”
On Sunday, junior Meghan Huerter poured in 28 points against J-D, coming off an also impressive 23-point afternoon against Cicero-North Syracuse.
“I mean it's extremely fun, we beat two great teams,” Meghan Huerter said. “They both have kids aren't going DI or going DII, that just shows how good we are as a team collectively.
“We played together, it's one of the most unselfish teams I've been a part of and we all can score from anywhere on the court.”
The junior captain also appreciated the versatility of the non-league opponent.
“Cicero, they were all big because they had two great bigs,” Huerter said. “Jessica Cook, she was really good and we tried to stop her. (23 points). Then today they had all guards and we had to stop the guards, so it just shows our versatility as a team together.”
With a Shenendehowa line-up that doesn’t rest in the off-season facing Jamesville-DeWitt and Cicero-North Syracuse was far from intimidating to the Plainsmen.
“We just have to remember that these girls are very good, but we've always played against these girls in AAU,” senior captain Simone Walker said. “So we just got to trust our system, trusts our plan, trusts each other, and trust our teammates, do what we always talk about. Just take a deep breath and we got this.”
After opening the season with a win against Troy, 79-36, the weekend was a welcomed challenge.
“I think it's a great opportunity that we have to host these teams from out of our section early,” Walker said. “It helps us all on just to get better competition really.
“We're not always playing the same people and it gets us ready for our section because it still is very competitive. But to play like the top teams in the state, it's just a great opportunity.”
The Plainsmen aren’t finished facing rare opponents, taking on Somers and Holy Redeemer from Pennsylvania at the Amsterdam Tournament during the holiday break before hosting Lourdes and Bishop Kearney in late January.