Girls basketball: Burnt Hills wins defensive battle

Gestwick earns first varsity coaching victory

It wasn't pretty, but Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake coach Sue Gestwick won't complain about winning her first career varsity game.

The Lady Spartans (1-2) used a 20-0 first-half run to overcome a slow start, and they pulled away late to defeat Niskayuna 39-17 in Tuesday's Suburban Council North Division girls basketball game in Burnt Hills.

"It was our defense and patience on offense," said Gestwick, who took over the varsity reins this season. "The kids did a good job."

Niskayuna (0-3) was also looking for its first win of the season, but the Silver Warriors had trouble getting anything going against a stubborn BH-BL defense.

"I'm just looking for someone to step up for us," said Niskayuna coach Sarah Neely.

Things looked promising for Niskayuna when it opened the game on a 6-1 run, but the momentum eventually switched over to BH-BL's side. The Lady Spartans closed the first quarter on a 6-0 spurt -- capped by Molly Gallagher's late bucket -- and then they shut out the Silver Warriors 14-0 in the second quarter to take a 21-6 halftime lead.

Sophomore guard Halle O'Brien tried to light a fire under Niskayuna's offense in the second half. O'Brien ended the Silver Warriors' 13-minute scoreless streak with a driving layup less than two minutes into the third quarter, and she played tough defense at the other end.

"Halle played on junior varsity last year, and I was very impressed with her defensive ability and her aggressiveness," said Neely. "It's taken her a couple of games, but I think she's getting used to the varsity level."

In the end, though, BH-BL's balanced attack was too much for Niskayuna to overcome. Gallagher, Lizzie Morton and Kaita Albanese each scored nine points to lead the Lady Spartans.

"[The win] gives the kids confidence. It's what they need," said Gestwick, who graduated from BH-BL in 2001. "Hopefully, now they believe in our team and will keep working hard."

Despite the loss, Neely said she is hopeful her team will turn things around this season. Senior forward Kayla Treanor could join her teammates on the court soon, as Neely said that Treanor could receive medical clearance soon to start practicing. Treanor -- last year's leading scorer -- has been sidelined since having foot surgery over the summer.

"I have so much confidence in this team because I see the way they practice every day. They give me 100 percent effort every time," said Neely.

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