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Thursday, April 18, 2024

In Schools: Gavin Olsen of Niskayuna Plays Several Positions in Boys’ Basketball Team


Mike Grasso, the coach of Niskayuna, has expressed his desire for Gavin Olsen to take more shots during games.

“Gavin has honed his shooting skills through hard work,” said Grasso about the 6-foot-4 senior. “We’re encouraging him to be more assertive on the court. He’s a player who always puts the team first.”

Grasso has never had to push Olsen to be more assertive when it comes to defending or rebounding. The three-year varsity player is one of the Suburban Council’s top performers in these areas, and his tireless efforts have significantly contributed to Niskayuna’s position among the league’s top teams and its impressive 14-4 overall record.

Olsen played a key role in a strong defensive performance and contributed 10 points and six rebounds in Niskayuna’s recent 72-56 victory over Shaker, marking their third consecutive win.

“When I joined this program five years ago, I made it clear that we would have high standards,” Grasso said. “We’re committed to teamwork, defense, and rebounding. And there’s no doubt about the level of effort we’re going to put in.”

Olsen embodies the values that Grasso wants to instill in Niskayuna basketball.

“My role is to rebound and play defense,” Olsen said after a recent practice session. “I aim to be the team’s driving force and energy. I’m always ready to give it my all.”

“He’s fully embraced his role, and it’s a leading role,” Grasso said. “He stepped up last year as a junior, and as a senior, he’s continued to elevate his game and be the player we need. He’s fully committed to that.”

Olsen takes immense pride in his role as Niskayuna’s defensive linchpin. He’s often tasked with neutralizing the opposing teams’ top offensive players.

“My mindset is always, ‘This is going to help our team win,’” said the 18-year-old who aspires to play college basketball. “If I’m up against a player who can score 30 points and I limit him to six points, it increases our chances of winning.”

“Our league boasts some top-notch shooters,” Grasso said. “He’s had some outstanding games against some of them. He can hold his own against bigger players and he’s agile enough to keep up with guards.”

Olsen’s toughness and agility make him an effective rebounder. He averages 7.5 rebounds per game, with a high of 13 in a 63-52 victory over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

“Sometimes his focus on defense and marking the other team’s best player can limit his rebounding opportunities,” Grasso said. “But this season, he’s been getting more rebounds and scoring more points, with an average of 12 points per game, three points higher than his junior year. He scored a season-high 23 points in a 75-52 win over Middletown, netted 20 in a 64-45 win over Newburgh Free Academy, and has scored double-digit points 13 times.”

“I spent a lot of time in the offseason working on shooting off the dribble and catch-and-shoot,” said Olsen, whose father James was a standout player at Schenectady. “I’ve definitely improved as a shooter.”

Olsen is following in the footsteps of his older sister Olivia, who was a standout player at Niskayuna, and his younger brother, sophomore Brady, who is expected to do the same.

Olivia Olsen is currently enjoying a successful junior season at Providence. The 6-3 forward has recorded eight double-doubles (as of last Friday) and has been named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll five times.

“I try to emulate my sister, although I tend to shoot more from the outside,” Gavin Olsen said.

Gavin Olsen has recorded three double-doubles this season, including a 14-point, 12-rebound performance in Niskayuna’s 68-58 victory over CBA.


Karissa Antoine’s return from an ankle injury has seen her lead her Schalmont team to seven wins in nine games, and she also reached a personal milestone.

The star senior forward reached the career 1,500-point mark on Jan. 27 when she scored her 17th point in a 56-49 win at Niskayuna. She scored seven consecutive points late in the game after Niskayuna had rallied to close the gap.

Antoine scored eight points a week ago in a 69-34 win over Ichabod Crane, and added 13 points in Friday’s 71-46 loss to Albany Academy, bringing her varsity total to 1,521.

“She took control of the game and did what a Division I commit is expected to do,” Schalmont coach Jeff Van Hoesen said of the Niskayuna game. “We didn’t realize she had reached 1,500 points until the next day when we checked the books. We knew she was close, but our main focus was to bounce back from our previous loss to them [Niskayuna].”

Niskayuna defeated Schalmont 40-24 on Jan. 3 in a game that marked Antoine’s return to action after she missed six games due to a bone chip in her left ankle. Antoine scored four points that night against Niskayuna, but has since scored double digits in seven of eight games.

“We eased her back into the game, starting with 16, 20 minutes to get her acclimated,” Van Hoesen said. “Now she’s found her rhythm, and she’s doing a great job of involving the other girls.”

Antoine was injured in Schalmont’s season-opening win against Ichabod Crane, and the Sabres went 2-4 without the two-time Daily Gazette All-Area first team selection in the lineup.

“[Before Friday] we had won seven in a row,” Van Hoesen said. “The girls are starting to play well. They’re coming together at the right time.”


On Friday night, Mohonasen senior Bella Petrocci and Catholic Central sophomore Sei’Mir Roberson both joined the 1,000-point club, Petrocci with a 3-point basket and Roberson with a 3-point play.

Petrocci sank a third-quarter trey to join the Mohonasen girls’ 1,000-point club, part of her 17-point outing in a 68-38 win over Ichabod Crane. Roberson reached the special milestone in the first quarter of a 75-50 win over Lansingburgh when he sank a jumper, was fouled, and added a free throw. He finished with 13 points.

Mekeel Christian Academy senior Terrance Clark scored 18 points and reached the career 1,000-point mark in the Lions’ 72-61 loss to Green Tech last Wednesday. Clark transferred from Troy to Mekeel this school year.


CBA’s JJ Osinski scored 41 points Sunday in a 79-68 non-league loss to La Salle, with the 6-4 freshman hitting five 3s and going 8-for-9 from the line.

Providence commit Audrey Shields of Emma Willard piled up 42 points last week in a win over Waterford-Halfmoon. Earlier in the season, Kellen Driscoll of Glens Falls amassed 47 points in a victory over Hoosick Falls, and Jeff Mulhern of Duanesburg collected 41 in a win over Middleburgh and 40 in a win over OESJ.

Jack Sullivan
Jack Sullivan
Jack Sullivan, an informed and passionate sports reporter, is a former college athlete with a degree in Sports Communication from Ithaca College. Go Bombers!
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  1. Disagree: Gavin Olsen’s versatility showcases his dedication and talent, proving that he is an invaluable asset to the boys’ basketball team at Niskayuna.

  2. Good punctuation and grammar, agree: Gavin Olsen’s ability to play multiple positions on the boys’ basketball team is impressive and shows his dedication to the sport. He is a true asset to Niskayuna.


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