Dunkirk (9-0, 6-0) lived up to its role as the favorite Wednesday night during its game against Fredonia (4-7, 3-3), but it wasn't as easy as the final score indicated, as the Marauders dropped the Hillbillies, 55-38, in CCAA Division 1 boys' basketball action, at Dunkirk Senior High School.
The Marauders' 18-point first quarter was sparked by quick baskets from Kevin Holmes, Breandan Gibbons and Vinny Bomasuto.
"That kind of set the tempo for the game right there," Dunkirk coach Jerome Moss said. "We were going to go to the basket hard and we were going to try and (get out on the) fast-break."
High school boys basketball
The trio scored four points each in the first quarter, while teammate A.J. McCall added six.
"A.J. is a workhorse," Moss said. "He gets in there and he battles all night long. He does exactly what we need him to do."
Fredonia, on the other hand, struggled in the first quarter, getting its first bucket 3:15 into the game, on a 3-pointer from Brian Ward, which ended a 9-0 run by Dunkirk to start the game.
OBSERVER Photo by John Conti
Dunkirk’s Kevin Holmes looks to make a pass Wednesday, during his team’s CCAA?Division 1 boys’ basketball game against Fredonia. Dunkirk won 55-38.
"That was our game plan," Moss said. "We wanted to come out and put a lot of pressure on (Fredonia) and see if we could get some quick steals."
Down 18-7 after the first quarter, the Hillbillies saw momentum swing their way early in the second frame as Jordan Sherlock scored four points to spark a 7-2 run to cut the Marauders' lead, 24-17.
"Jordan was a huge spark," Fredonia coach Greg Lauer said. "He was going up against a kid that is 6-foot-4 inside. He took it at him and he got fouled a couple of times. He's got a lot of energy. He helped start some runs for us, but we just couldn't keep it going."
"We knew Fredonia wasn't going to go away," Moss added. "This game has a lot to it and you've got to play to the end and that's what they were doing."
Dunkirk turned it around however, as Bomasuto scored eight of his game-high 21 points in the second quarter, helping the Marauders to a 32-18 halftime edge.
"We fouled him a little too much in the first half and got him to the line and that gave them their advantage," Lauer said of Bomasuto. "We wanted to stop him and he got some easy buckets."
Fredonia outscored Dunkirk in the third quarter, 10-7, as the Marauders again went cold from the floor.
"It came around again and we had to rely on our defense," Moss said. "That's something you have to be able to do. There's going to be some nights when your shots come on and come off, but your defense has to be consistent. The atmosphere was great. The crowd was loud and they may have rushed their shots a little bit."
"We talked about those easy buckets we gave them in the first half," Lauer added. "And we realized we were right there in this game even though we were down 12. We decided that we had to go at (Dunkirk) a little more, be more aggressive, get to the foul line a little more and we started to do some of that."
Down 39-28 heading into the final quarter, Fredonia knew it still had a chance, but a reliance on the outside shot assured the Hillbillies their fate, as Bomasuto added eight of the Marauders' 16 fourth-quarter points to seal the victory.
"We didn't take good shots," Lauer said. "The guys know that we wanted to focus on getting the ball inside to Jordan or on the drive from our wings. Sometimes we just settled for those three's and they looked to good to pass up. We can't do that. To be successful we've got to start taking better shots."
"Vinny gave us a good effort in the fourth quarter," Moss added. "He's a winner. He came through and he played strong. That's what we needed him to do."
One area where the Marauders will need some improvement as the season wears on is their performance at the foul line, where they went just 17 of 35.
"It happens," Moss said. "Sometimes you can't find the hoop at the foul line. We'll go to practice and practice our foul shots, but the only thing with that is you can't simulate game speed and you can't simulate the crowd. So you've got to be able to concentrate and knock those shots down."
Fredonia, on the other hand, will have to work on shot selection as the Hillbillies were held to no field goals during a 6:20 stretch between the second and third quarters.
"This is our third game in a row where we've scored under 42 points," Lauer said. "We've got to take better shots and we've got to start hitting some of those shots. We're not going to win any games if we can hold a team to 50 (points), but only score 38."
McCall finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for Dunkirk while Holmes added eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Donaldson led the Marauders' defense, which forced 23 Hillbillies' turnovers, with seven steals.
For Fredonia, Ward had a team-high 15 points while adding eight rebounds and Sherlock finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
"I thought that Fredonia played very hard tonight," Moss said. "I thought it was a great ball game. Both teams competed well and we're looking forward to the next one."
Falconer 70, Gowanda 66
GOWANDA - The Gowanda Panthers cut the deficit to just two points against the Falconer Golden Falcons in the fourth quarter of their boy's high school CCAA Division 1 basketball game on Wednesday, but were unable to get any closer as Falconer held on for its first win of the season, 70-66.
"They were pretty hot," Gowanda coach Rod Utley said of the Golden Falcons. "They shot well."
Falconer (1-5, 1-10) had a double-digit lead with four minutes to go in the game, but Gowanda (0-6, 3-10) was able to close that gap to just two. What followed was four foul shots and possession of the ball, but out of that, the Panthers only scored one point.
"That was a dagger," said Utley.
Gowanda took the early lead, up 18-12 after the first quarter and retained the lead at halftime, 34-21. However, a 24 point third quarter by the Golden Falcons put them up 55-48 and although the Panthers outscored the Golden Falcons, 18-16, in the final eight minutes, it was not enough to regain the lead.
Helping Falconer in its victory, the Golden Falcons hit seven 3-pointers and shot 80 percent from the free throw line - 17-of-21 - while Gowanda was 8-of-18.
"That hurt right there," Utley said.
Additionally, Ryan Nord scored 21 of his game-high 31 points in the first half of the game, 10 coming off 11 free throw attempts. The Panthers changed up coverage for Nord, but his teammate Brandan DiPietrio picked up the slack, scoring 20 points in the game and hitting three 3's in the fourth quarter."
"He's a hard nosed ball player," Utley said of Nord, adding, "They did a nice job screening for DiPietrio."
Leading the way for Gowanda, Kris Kruszka recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds while teammate Nick Huffman was one rebound shy himself, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine boards. Also playing an important part in the game was Zach Steever, whose six points off the bench made a difference.
"He came off and he had six points and kept us in the game," Utley said. "While our other guys were struggling, he picked up four in the third quarter. He kept us afloat."
Gowanda's next game is at home on Friday against Fredonia.