By ROB JONAS
It may be the biggest Suburban Council girls basketball game in a generation – possibly longer than that.
Shenendehowa hosts Saratoga Springs tonight in a match-up between two state-ranked teams. Shen (16-0) enters as the No. 3-ranked Class AA team by the New York State Sportswriters Association, while Saratoga (16-1) is ranked fifth.
Both teams feature players capable of taking command of the court. Saratoga’s Catherine “Dolly” Cairns is making a strong case for Suburan Council Player of the Year honors with a 27.7 points-per-game average, while Shen’s Meghan Huerter is averaging 18.7 points per game.
What separates these two teams may be their scoring depth. Saratoga relies heavily on Cairns and Natasha Chudy (14.9 PPG) to lead the way, while Shen has several players who can contribute on the score sheet such as Rylee Carpenter, Kaitlyn Watrobski, Jillian Huerter, Bella Stuart and Simone Walker.
Saratoga enters tonight’s game with a full week’s worth of rest. The Blue Streaks’ rallied from an early 10-point deficit to defeat Averill Park 54-46 on Feb. 4. Cairns had a big game at the free throw line, making 12 of her 14 foul shots on her way to a 27-point night.
Shen also took a week off following its most recent game, a 91-23 victory over Ballston Spa Feb. 4. That game followed an active January for the Plainsmen, as they defeated four state-ranked teams – Averill Park (No. 1 Class A), Our Lady of Lourdes (No. 10 Class AA), Bishop Kearney (No. 11 Class AA) and Colonie (No. 22 Class AA) – during an eight-game stretch.
The winner of tonight’s game will have the inside track for the No. 1 seed in the Section 2 Class AA playoffs, since there is one week left in the regular season. The winning team will also have bragging rights in one of the biggest Suburban Council rivalries.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Shenendehowa High School.