Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Note Sheet: A Thursday Night in Troy

October 7, 2021

Technically, there's been a lot of nights in Troy over the past couple months. This is just one that I'm writing about!

I was able to spend last Thursday in the MD Sports Hall gym, home of the 518 edition of EST Summer Run in 2021 among many other things, featuring one of the 518's best AAU programs against one of its best high school teams. Julie McBride & the Albany Capitals, prepping for a Hoop Group event in MA over the weekend, hosted players from Shenendehowa in what was basically a four-team scrimmage (3 from the Caps). A few notes from the night:

- Brianna Carey was very good throughout the night, and it was all about the growth in her game instead of what she's already known for. I've had the luxury of seeing Bri play at least a dozen times since Shen's high school season ended in March, and she's consistently shown this marked development. The Shenendehowa 2023 G has demonstrated over time that she'll put three on the board with an open look from the perimeter. On this day, it was craftiness with the dribble and the ability to get to spots & finish at the rim that allowed her to separate herself. Fresh off a mileage-heavy spring/summer campaign that saw her make the trip to Staten Island for AAU with the SI Bulldogs, it looks like she's made a major stride with on-ball comfort & effectiveness that's key to her taking the next step in her development.

- And not a moment too soon because if any team knows about the injured reserve, it's Shen. If you put a group together simply of players that you can find in their training room & on the bench unable to play, they'd have no problem beating most Section 2 teams. Jill Huerter & Emily Delisle are still on the mend from knee injuries, Kaleigh Montanez is still in the recovery process from an ankle/foot injury, Sarah Jacques is still relegated to the side for now, I believe Anna Cholakis just came back, etc. It'll be very interesting to watch them as they hopefully get everyone back over the next couple months, but in the meantime, those that are healthy are taking different or larger roles. Carey's improvement on the ball is particularly important with Huerter/Delisle not back yet, Cam Wilders (2023) also played well Thursday and they'll need her to take that step forward, and many younger players are finding themselves in the mix as well. Keep an eye on this team come mid-January & beyond...

- The Capitals are full of young local talent. Some are already 'on the radar', others will get there soon. One of the leaders of the pack has created a buzz for herself this fall... meet Carolina Williams. I've brought her name up plenty over the last few months and she's had strong showings at individual showcases such as the EST Fall Showcase and NYG Hoops' Fall Super 64. She's just a 2025, but she already brings many things that coaches die for in their PGs - IQ, court presence, ability to break defenders down off the bounce & get paint touches, ability to create for both herself & teammates, three-level scoring capabilities, etc. I try to avoid playing the 'direct comparison' game, but with her on-court demeanor, potent hesitation dribble & change of speed, advanced skill set & IQ at this age, and even down to her mannerisms... it's tough to not think shades of Saratoga great & current Rhode Island player Dolly Cairns. Basketball enthusiasts may want to carve out a night to watch Ichabod Crane this winter to see her & the crew.

- Right alongside Carolina in the 2025 crew is Bethlehem's Kaitlyn Robbins. At 5'10" with legitimate basketball skill & rapidly improving, she's another one in the 518 to keep your eyes on. Unlike most players with decent size at a young age, Kaitlyn hasn't rested on that advantage and has instead built from the ground up fundamentally. She's sound in that regard, which serves well for her development as she gets older & continues to physically develop.

- Staying in Bethlehem... someone that I probably don't talk about enough is 2024 Paige Davenport. As the night wore on, she made sure to leave an impression with her play. She's always been intriguing - 5'10", fluid athlete, has some versatility, plays pretty well off the ball, does a bit of many things as kind of a utility player. On this day, she flexed as a more potent scoring option that could stretch to the perimeter and make an impact in transition. As she continues to 'put it together', look for Paige - and her Bethlehem squad - to take a big step forward.

- And speaking of intriguing... if playing word association, that has to be the first to come to mind when speaking of Joleen Lusk. The 6'1" 2023 out of Cherry Valley-Springfield has not only blossomed into one of Section 4's premier small-school talents, but she's also showing her abilities beyond just that 'small school standout' tag. Joleen has shown very rapid improvement in 2021 and put that on display once again - has back-to-basket & face-up game, can stretch to the 3 point line, deceptively skilled & particularly crafty. She has the sort of skill with footwork & ball/hand fakes to not only fill it up, but make defenders look silly in the process. Class C/D land in eastern Section 4 - the MAC, Delaware League, and in her case, the TVL - seems to consistently produce more girls' basketball talent than most small school regions in NY. Count Jo as 'up now'.

- This wasn't a day of true standouts for the most part, but it was a day of depth for sure. Many solid showings here and many solid up & comers in the 2024/2025 classes. Some I've had the luxury of seeing many times this year, others not nearly as much, but I'm looking forward to catching all of them again in the near future.

'The Note Sheet' is a special writeup that is what it sounds - a freeform glimpse into my notes/thoughts from a particular basketball outing. No required length or form, just my observations. Look for at least one of these posts weekly as we lead into the 2021-22 high school season. The next anticipated 'Note Sheet', if travel goes well, will be from the 607 after a Horseheads open gym & BX Training workout in Elmira. See you then!

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