By Sean Lynch
NEW WINDSOR — For six of the players on the Cornwall basketball team, the season came around a little too quickly. Just two weeks earlier, they were in Glens Falls for the Class A State Volleyball Championships where they finished in third place.
Despite half of the team missing several practices, they didn’t miss a beat on Tuesday night, beating Burke Catholic 46-26 in their season-opener.
The Dragons forced 27 turnovers, with most of them coming in a suffocating half-court press defense.
“The press is what we’re going to do,” said Cornwall head coach Chris Miller. “It’s hard. There’s a lot of concepts that the team is getting used to. All in all, their effort was there tonight. When we press correctly, it wears teams down and at the end of each quarter it should give us scoring runs like it did tonight.”
Cornwall (1-0) spent the entire game in its press defense. It took Burke Catholic (0-3) 5:32 to score its first points, and the Eagles never led in the game.
The Dragons shot 37% from the field and attempted 25 free throws, making just under half of them.
Miller was happy with the amount of times his team got to the free-throw line, but knows they’ll have to convert more.
“A big plus tonight was getting to the line a lot,” he said. “We didn’t make a ton, and it’s definitely something we’ll be practicing in the future.”
SUNY Cortland commit and senior Cornwall forward Maggie Malone led the Dragons in four categories with 11 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 blocks. Malone was content with how the team played, but knows there’s always room for improvement.
“We have a young team this year,” she said. “With the press there’s a lot of things you have to do, and we’re still adjusting to that. Miller said to us that we’re at 15% of what we’re capable of playing like. During the season we’ll grow a lot from where we’re at right now.”
Burke Catholic senior guard Katelyn McCann led the Eagles with nine points. She admitted the press was tough to get past, and it caused some sloppy mistakes on the court.
“They run a really, really good press and we made some bad decisions while pressured,” she said. “Cornwall is a great team, and no matter how much we lose by, we’ll always be a family. Losing sucks, and I know we’ll learn from tonight. ”
Cornwall’s next game is Thursday at home versus last season’s Class AA runner-up Washingtonville. Burke Catholic gets five days of rest before they suit up at Goshen.