Patriots pull away from Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake’s Olivia Bell and Cassie Wisher of AuSable Valley chase a loose ball during the second half of Wednesday’s game at Saranac Lake High School. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — Two young teams went at it when Saranac Lake hosted AuSable Valley in a Champlain Valley Athletic Conference basketball game on Wednesday. And after a close second period, the talented Patriots had little trouble pulling away to claim a 53-32 victory.

AuSable Valley owned a 16-15 edge early in the second period and then took control by mounting a 17-3 run heading into halftime.

Sophomore Koree Stillwell proved to be an unstoppable inside-outside threat for AuSable Valley, finishing with a game-high 27 points, which included a pair of 3-pointers in the second half. Stillwell also sank nine of her 10 free-throw attempts.

Another sophomore, Reanna Prentiss, was the next-highest scorer for the winners with nine points.

The Patriots’ full-court press, as well as the Red Storm’s inability to drain shots from the field and the foul line, ultimately doomed Saranac Lake, which fell to 1-2. Mecalyn Sousa led the Red Storm in scoring with nine points.

Amya Hurteau sends a bounce pass from the baseline toward a teammate in Wednesday’s game. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“I thought at times we didn’t handle their pressure particularly well,” first-year Saranac Lake coach Chad LaDue said. “We struggled with getting our head up and seeing the next pass and getting into an athletic position. We stood straight up and we didn’t go meet some passes.

“Again, and it’s been a problem early in the season, is finishing around the rim,” LaDue continued. “I like how how AuSable moved the ball. I know Stillwell is an outstanding player and she changed her game to meet the needs of her team. She was more of a perimeter player last year. This year, she’s down in the post, she can step out and shoot it, and she had some nice passes. They have a bunch of young talented kids who go out and work hard. The big difference is those kids play all summer.”

LaDue said the promising thing about his team is they are far from where he expects them to be later in the season.

“We are nowhere near to the point where I think we can get to,” LaDue said. “They are young, they work extremely hard, no one is out there quitting, and we’re going to get better and better as the season goes on. That’s what the goal is. We had seven kids that played JV last year, and five of those kids could be playing there this year.”

“We’re really young. We have three eighth-graders, and they all play a lot of basketball,” said head coach Roger Long, whose Patriots improved to 4-1. “I think our kids are quick, they’re energetic and they force the pace. We force people to play our tempo, and other teams struggle with that tempo, and they start making poor decisions and bad passes.

Saranac Lake’s Kylee Clark, right, and Serena Stevens attempt to defend Koree Stillwell of AuSable Valley during Wednesday’s game. Stillwell scored 27 points to lead the Patriots to the win. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“Offensively, I think we’re fluid right now,” Long added. “We missed a lot of chippies, but that will come. We only five games into the season. I told the kids ‘We’re climbing Mount Everest, but we’re only at the first camp.’

Alex LaDue was Saranac Lake’s next-highest scorer with six points and Amya Hurteau and Olivia Bell added four points each in the win.

Saranac Lake has another tough task on tap in its next game, traveling Friday to face the Moriah Vikings. Moriah handed AuSable Valley its only loss to date.

AuSable Valley 53, Saranac Lake 32

Patriots 14 19 8 12 — 53

Red Storm 12 6 7 7 — 32

AuSable Valley (53)

Prentiss 3-3-9, Wisher 0-0-0, Keyser 1-2-4, Rennie 1-0-3, Long 2-0-4, Kylee Stillwell 0-0-0, Douglass 1-0-2, Koree Stillwell 8-9-27, Roy 1-0-2, Shay 1-0-2. Totals: 17-15-53.

Saranac Lake (32)

Clark 1-1-3, Carpenter 1-1-3, S. Stevens 0-0-0, Hurteau 2-0-4, Bell 2-0-4, S. Stevens 0-1-1, LaDue 2-2-6, K. McCarthy 0-0-0, M. Sousa 4-0-9, Glover 0-0-0, Newton 1-0-2. Totals: 13-5-32.