QUEENSBURY — Coming into the season, Queensbury coach Doug Fraser had a lot to figure out. Or so he thought.
The Spartans lost 80 percent of their offense, graduating leading scorers Cam Bleibtrey and Jeff Van Anden. Fraser rosters only four seniors this year, so he knew experience would be thin too.
Maybe the veteran coach was just playing his cards close to the vest, but the Spartans seemed to have figured it out already.
On Friday night, Queensbury beat Schuylerville 65-52 in a boys basketball Foothills Council matchup at Queensbury High School. The Spartans were the better team from start to finish, forcing the Black Horses into 15 turnovers, 10 of which came in the first half.
Following the opening tip, sophomore guard Sean Collins buried a triple, and Queensbury (3-0) never trailed after that.
“Today we had balance,” Fraser said. “A key for us is our defensive intensity and we certainly try to hang our hat on that. But most importantly for this team, especially early, we need to share the ball. Any time you can do that, Dr. James Naismith is smiling.”
Naismith would’ve been proud of the Spartans Friday. Queensbury had four players in double-figures, and a fifth finished with nine points.
Matthew Chase scored 14 points, tied for most on his team along with teammate Thomas Scotto-Lavino. The two big men had their way inside with the Black Horses’ smaller lineup en route to career-high scoring performances.
Queensbury’s pressure was a constant issue also. With junior Bryce Bleibtrey standing at 6 foot 2, and Chase and Scotto-Lavino alongside him, the Spartans are long.
There isn’t a passing lane they can’t disrupt.
“We were careless with the ball,” Horses coach Matthew Steinfort said. “We turned it over and when you do that, usually bad things happen. Those ones early on really hurt us.”
“I give them credit for how they came out and (defended) us,” he added. “We got too sped up and as I said that made us careless.”
At half, Schuylerville trailed by 11 points. Senior guard Nick Budeshein did everything he could to pull the Horses to victory. He buried a second half 3-pointer and finished a three-point play while scoring a game-high 21 points.
But every time Schuylerville (1-1) came within single digits, Queensbury found a way to shatter the Horses’ press, usually by completing a few long passes before an easy layup.
“Passing is superior to dribbling and we emphasize that every day in practice,” Fraser said. “This sport is about guys caring about each other and we have that.”
With three minutes to play, Collins, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds, completed a three-point play. Then teammate Shane Rutherford daggered the Horses by taking a charge at the other end.
The gym went nuts, and a minute later Queensbury’s subs checked in.
“Anytime you take a charge, it is the most unselfish play in basketball,” Fraser said. “Shan-o has been that guy for us. We need to get other guys to start doing the same thing. He has at least one charge in every game and that tells you a lot about the character of Shane Rutherford.”