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Schools of Thought: Fall season not yet finished

November 5, 2012
By MIKE ZUMMO ( , The Leader Herald

I'm having a hard time believing it's already Nov. 5 and many local athletes are trading in their cleats today for either sneakers or a wrestling singlet as the winter practices for JV and varsity teams will begin throughout the area.

But before the book is closed on the fall season, there is still some unfinished business remaining from the fall as the Johnstown volleyball team, Fonda-Fultonville boys cross country team, and a handful of other area runners, along with Johnstown diver Meghan Bartlett, who is looking for her first state championship in about two weeks, all are still in fall competition. Bartlett's Fonda-Johnstown teammate Erica Askew also is looking for state-meet success in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Aside from Schalmont in the Class B girls soccer, bracket, I haven't seen anyone dominate their tournament the way the Johnstown volleyball team. The Lady Bills swept their way through their three matches without losing a set.

They'll test their mettle against Section VII champion Beekmantown on Tuesday. I would not be surprised to see the Lady Bills back in Section II in a couple weeks for the state championships at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

I saw them early in the season, and even then they looked dominant in a 3-0 win over Glens Falls. I was struck immediately by the power displayed by the outside hitters. Some of the hits at the net, especially those by sophomore Annie Stock, thundered throughout the gym.

Yes, you read that right; she's only a sophomore, a fact that should make the rest of the Foothills Council and Section II more than a little nervous.

Of course that power won't have much effect without the team's setters, especially senior captain Zara Hyde, who racked up 26 assists during Friday night's sectional championship match against Schalmont.

Hyde and Stock are, of course, the tip of the iceberg. The Lady Bills wouldn't be where they are today without the contribution of all 12 girls on the roster.

Other than Johnstown volleyball, the sectional finals weren't very kind to most of area teams.

The Johnstown field hockey team saw its season end Sunday due to a 3-1 loss to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, ending a 17-game winning streak. After their success last year, I'm sure the Lady Bills had higher expectations for 2012.

There also were some surprises during sectional play and some disappointments. The St. Johnsville Saints came within two goals of making the Section II Class D boys soccer finals. No one expected the eighth-seeded Saints to knock off No. 1 Loudonville Christian before losing to Northville in the semifinals.

I admit to being surprised the Canajoharie girls' soccer team was knocked out of the Class C tournament after its first sectional game. But they made great strides for a program that was 6-11 in 2011, plus the Lady Cougars will return Jenelle Dillenbeck, their leading scorer, next year. That should create some optimism for the future.

Then there was the defending state champion, the Broadalbin-Perth boys soccer team, who lost to the Ichbod Crane Riders in the Section II Class B semifinals. Everyone recognized this problem when tournament brackets were released. The Riders were the top seed and the Patriots were fourth, putting those two teams on a collision course for the semifinals. Those were probably the two best teams in Section II and would have made for a more interesting title game than the Riders' 2-0 win over Greenville.

But the book is about to close on the fall sports season and we'll all be sent indoors for the winter - which doesn't bother me much since I'm still thawing early Sunday from spending most of Friday and Saturday outside - and the book is about to open on a new season.

With the ends come beginning as some of the disappointments of the fall fade away to hope for the winter, at least for those who play multiple sports.



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