By Will McClure
Even with a cancelation and postponement, the Stamford Lady Bulldogs could not come up with their second district win of the season in a close loss to the Albany Lady Lions last Saturday. The Lady Bulldogs looked to move to 2-1 in district play, coming off of a 35-31 home win against Roscoe on December 16. The Lady Bulldogs were initially scheduled to play O’Donnell on December 30, but the game would ultimately be cancelled due to the icy weather conditions. The game against Albany was initially scheduled for Friday, January 2, but was postponed until 2:00 pm the next day due to similar circumstances, allowing the weather to clear enough for safer travel for both teams.
The game began deadlocked as both Stamford and Albany looked to put the first points on the board. Marissa Hernandez broke the scoreless streak with 4 points to begin the game and the lead for the Lady Bulldogs. The Lady Bulldogs would adhere to a close defensive strategy, allowing scoring opportunities to be kept to a minimum. The Lady Lions pressed the action in an attempt to move closer to the basket, only to draw fouls and traveling violations, resulting in giving possession back Stamford. With 2:15 left in the first period, the Lady Lions finally got on the board and got into a brief rhythm. Albany would go on to a 5 point run to cut into the Lady Bulldogs’ lead, bringing the gap to one as the period ended with Stamford leading 6-5. Albany extended their run by a further four points at the start of the second period, taking the lead by three. The Lady Bulldogs answered with 10 points in rapid succession: three points each from Bailea Epley and Ryah Mitchell as well as four points from Marissa Hernandez. Albany would begin the climb back late in the half, signaling the Lady Bulldogs to step up on defense. However, the Lady Bulldogs ended up committing repeated fouls that activated the Lady Lions’ bonus advantage, sending them to the free throw line to close the gap even further. Despite this, the Lady Bulldogs were able to hold on to a slight lead, outscoring the Lady Lions by two to enter the second half with a score of 18-15.
Defense dominated the third period, with neither team finding the basket. Albany was able to break the deadlock slightly at the free throw line, but regular shots would not fall. The period moved quickly with both teams struggling to maintain possession of the ball. Two points from Ryah Mitchell looked to be the only points Stamford would see in the third until a buzzer-beating three point shot from Brittney Pete gave the Lady Bulldogs a total of five points for the period. Albany would be slightly better, taking the lead 24-23 going into the final period. Three consecutive free throws from Raquel Pachicano, brought on by a single shooting foul, allowed the Lady Bulldogs to retake the lead early. The ball moved swiftly between teams with fast ball movement and quick steals, game plans that were carried over from the third. Albany took the lead back quickly, but the Lady Bulldogs were not far behind. An additional free throw from Raquel Pachicano tied the game at 31-31 with 1:45 remaining, symbolic on how tough both teams were throughout the game. The Lady Bulldogs continued to be sent to the line, but could not capitalize on their opportunities. In contrast, Albany was able to clinch the game with free throws, allowing them to maintain a five point lead as the game reached its end with the Albany Lady Lions winning 39-34. Although it was a tough loss, the Lady Bulldogs did not quit until the final buzzer sounded, defending close and aggressively in an attempt to bring the ball back into their possession. Ryah Mitchell led the Lady Bulldogs with 9 points as well as being the only Lady Bulldog to score in all four periods. Marissa Hernandez followed with eight, all coming from the first half.
The loss brings the Lady Bulldogs’ district record to 1-2 and their overall record to 5-11. The Lady Bulldogs will look to improve their record when they travel to Hawley to face the Lady Bearcats on Tuesday, January 6 at 6:30 pm for another district clash. The 4-11 JV team will also take the court in Hawley after their games with O’Donnell and Albany were cancelled due to weather, with their game beginning at 4:00 pm. The varsity team will then return home for their next district game against Haskell on Friday, January 9 with the game beginning at 6:30 pm. Good luck Lady Bulldogs!
STD 6 12 5 11--34
ALB 5 10 9 15--39
#10 Brittney Pete 3 pts, #12 Ryah Mitchell 9 pts, #21 Bailea Epley 7 pts, #22 Marissa Hernandez 8 pts, #23 Taylor Beeson 1 pt, #32 Rachel Pachicano 6 pts