By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
JOHNSTOWN -- The Broadalbin-Perth Patriots weren't rusty. They were perfectly well-rested.
Playing for the first time since Dec. 21, the Patriots seized control of Tuesday night's Foothills Council boys basketball road matchup with the Johnstown Sir Bills right from the opening tip -- which B-P senior forward Mark Sylvia swiftly converted into the first in a long train of Patriots' layups -- and led the entire way, cruising to an emphatic 64-34 victory.
"I think the two-and-a-half week of running non-stop and working on execution was pretty good," said B-P (4-4, 2-2 Foothills) coach Tucker Gifford. "I thought we played well. We executed on both ends of the floor tonight."
Led by 20 points from senior swingman Ben Bellandi, the Patriots simply outran and outworked Johnstown from the opening whistle. Employing a 1-2-2 trap that forced the Sir Bills into 13 first-half turnovers -- 22 for the game -- B-P blew open the game with a 12-0 run late in the first quarter fueled mostly on the fast break.
The trap, a staple of the Sir Bills, was something the Patriots had spent their long break following December losses to Scotia-Glenville and Glens Falls trying to perfect.
"We've been working on that for a while," Bellandi said. "That's what they do -- they trap -- and we wanted to put the pressure on them."
The result for the Patriots were layups. A lot of layups. Fueled by fast breaks off turnovers and crisp outlet passes following defensive rebounds, the Patriots were 16-of-33 from the field in the first half and shot the ball at a 60 percent clip (15-of-25) inside the 3-point line.
"We hadn't really gotten layups yet this year," Gifford said. "We haven't gotten easy opportunities because we didn't get in the lane. Tonight, we got in there quite often and got a lot of chances."
Johnstown, meanwhile, never got in a rhythm offensively. The Sir Bills didn't have a single player score in double figures -- Mike Everest and Jamal Vasquez led the way with eight points apiece -- and shot just 12-of-44 from the floor as a team, but coach Scott Hale said the root of the issue Tuesday night came down to Johnstown's 22 turnovers.
"It was a game of too many turnovers. That was the story of this game," Hale said. "We gave them too many opportunities. If you're not getting shots off and just handing them the ball, you've got little chance of winning."
Eighth grader Preston Taylor added 14 points and Chris Natoli scored 10 for B-P, which got some much-needed momentum coming off the layoff and heading into another key Foothills game Friday against South Glens Falls.
"We definitely needed a win coming off those two losses to Scotia and Glens Falls," Bellandi said. "This helps us going into South High on Friday."