JOHNSTOWN — For both the Johnstown and Queensbury girls’ basketball teams, Thursday’s game was more than just the season and Foothills Council opener.
It marked a new beginning.
The Spartans hadn’t played a game since 2019 after missing last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the Lady Bills lost several players from last season’s team that went 7-0 in a shortened season against only Fulton County opposition.
On Thursday, Queensbury used a second-half surge to post a 71-31 victory over Johnstown at Johnstown High School.
Brigid Duffy finished with a game-high 22 points for the Spartans, while Dyllan Ray (15 points) and Shea Canavan (12) also hit double digits.
Jaden Wilson scored 21 of Johnstown’s 41 points, while Jaidyn Chest added 10 points.
“We’ll take the win,” Queensbury coach Megan Bethel said. “It’s early in the season, and we’ve got a whole new group. We didn’t play last year, and we’ve only got one returning player from two years ago.”
The Spartans led by only a 30-24 margin at the half before using full-court pressure to outscore the Lady Bills 30-7 in the third quarter.
“I thought at times we were in the game, especially in the first half,” Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. “It just got away from us in the second half.”
Queensbury forced 16 turnovers in the frame, and the Lady Bills turned the ball over 42 times on the night.
“Turnovers absolutely killed us tonight,” Derwin said.
In the first quarter, the Spartans took advantage of nine Johnstown turnovers and opened up an 11-4 lead. Ray scored six of those points for Queensbury.
Johnstown regrouped to cut the Spartans’ lead to 17-12 at the end of the quarter. Wilson scored eight of the Lady Bills’ 12 first-quarter points.
“Jaden [Wilson] played well tonight,” Derwin said.
As it did in the opening quarter, Queensbury started quickly in the second, using a 7-0 burst to open up a 24-12 lead. Johnstown responded once again, closing the quarter with a 12-6 run to make it 30-24 at the half.
“Johnstown is always a good, tough team,” Bethel said. “They’ve only got seven girls, but they’re scrappy and played hard the whole way. They’re a great-coached team.”
The Lady Bills lost one of their seven players early in the third quarter when Bella Bermas fouled out just 28 seconds into the half. Queensbury took advantage, using full-court pressure to outscored Johnstown 30-7 to take a 60-31 lead after thee quarters.
“It’s hard with seven players to simulate game situations,” Derwin said. “There’s no way to work on breaking a full-court press with just seven players.”
With a 29-point lead to open the fourth quarter, the Spartans coasted home to the season-opening victory.
“We’re a work in progress,” Bethel said. “We’ve got a lot of room for improvement, but this is a good start.”
Queensbury (1-0 Foothills, 1-0 overall) is slated to travel to Glens Falls on Monday for a 7 p.m. contest before hosting Amsterdam in its home opener on Dec. 9.
Johnstown (0-1, 0-1) is scheduled to play its next three games on the road, traveling to Gloversville on Monday, Hudson Falls on Dec. 9 and Schuylerville on Dec. 13.
“Everything we did tonight is correctable,” Derwin said. “The kids are positive, they want to work and get after it. That’s all I can ask for.”
Queensbury scoring: Donohue 4-1-9, Duffy 9-3-22, Dixon 1-0-2, Ray 7-1-15, Canavan 5-1-12, Trowbridge 2-3-7, Stewart 1-0-2, Jones 1-0-2. Totals 30-9-71. Johnstown scoring: Johnson 1-0-2, Ahern 2-1-5, Hisert 1-0-3, J. Chest 3-2-10, Wilson 7-6-21. Totals 14-9-41.
3-point goals: Queensbury 2 (Duffy, Canavan); Johnstown 4 (J. Chest 2, Hisert, Wilson).