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Six years of practice together now paying off for Warrensburg girls basketball team

WARRENSBURG In two sessions per week, Warrensburg physical education instructor Scott Smith works with 4th, 5th and 6th graders at Warrensburg Elementary, teaching them the basics ball handling, driving to the basket, distributing the ball, and setting up shots. Hes done it for years. Then on alternate days, hes coaching the Warrensburg High School Varsity girls basketball team. This year, the group of girls he coached during his first year on the job six years ago, are now Seniors seeking to win the Adirondack League championship. The Lady Burghers are now 10-1 in the league, 12 - 3 overall, tallying the best season of Smiths coaching career at Warrensburg. The team is now leading the league along with Lake George, which has a 9-1 league record, 9-6 overall. The two teams will battle it out Tuesday on the Lake George hardwoods. The winner will secure sole first place in the leagues western division, and meet their eastern division counterpart Feb. 16 in the Glens Falls Civic Center to vie for the overall championship. Smith said this week that when this group of girls were just sixth graders, he recognized their talent and determination. Early on, I could see this group of kids had a love and passion for basketball, so I kept working with them through modified, junior varsity and varsity, he said. I knew theyd be a really strong group. The team doesnt have much height, so Smith has taught them to play a style of ball that compensates, he said. Weve got a pretty small team, so we make up for it by running a pretty fast game, he said. We run on fast breaks and pick up some pressure defense. The girls six years together has yielded benefits they anticipate each others moves, know each others rhythm of play, and share in various roles, he said. Rachelle Black is the scoring leader. Playing varsity hoops since 8th grade, she has joined an elite group of top scorers at WCS by surpassing 1,000 points. She passed this milestone early in the season. Rachelle is a really strong player, and shes been the backbone of our program for five years, Smith said. Black averages about 12 points per game. Rachelle, whos won league MVP honors, gets attention from coaches of opposing teams, Smith said. Unwanted attention. But Warrensburg is ready for it, Smith said. A lot of times, particularly as this season has progressed, Rachels double teamed, or opponents shift defenses to limit her, Smith said. When that happens, the other players step up and contribute on offense. The last few games, Rachelle has done a good job of distributing the ball well and others have helped out. While directing a practice this week Smith commented on his senior players. Rachelle, he said, is versatile as either a guard or inside. She has great court vision, shoots well, but is unselfish with the ball, he said. Amelia Welch, he said, is a strong player at center, and can successfully take on opponents 2 to 3 inches taller. Shes got a nice touch on her outside shot, she provides solid defense inside, and she rebounds well, he said. Mallory Brainard, a point guard, runs the offense well, he said. Mallorys really stepped up this year, he said. She distributes the ball well and makes sure other players are in the right spot for defense. Sam Shave, he said plays with determination, despite her modest size. Sam brings intensity to the court shes quick and tough, he said. Shes only five-foot-four or so, but she has no problem mixing it up with the opposing teams biggest player. Smith also complimented Isa OBrien. Isa is an excellent shooter, very good in the three-point range, he said. Courtney Franklin, he said, is a hard worker. Courtney brings a lot of athleticism to the court, he said. Shes a strong rebounder. Alex Morris is also a versatile player. Alex has great court vision, he said. She makes good decisions. Maggie Morgan, he said, at 58, provided height for the team, he said. Smith praised her shooting, defense and ball handling. Sidelined since the second game of the season when she fell and tore a knee ligament after scoring 6 points, shes been attending practices and games since. The team may be lacking height, but theyve got enough heart, talent and depth to compensate for it, Smith said. Were 11 players strong, and we can put lots of different starting lineups on the floor, he said, noting the team is looking forward to their showdown Tuesday with Lake George. This versatility is important against Lake George, which can boast five players over 511. Lake George Athletic Director Cathy Stanilka said Tuesday the Lady Warriors had two games to win before meeting up with Warrensburg. This may go down to the wire, she said. If we win the next two, the showdown with Warrensburg will be huge.

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