Early season success

Dunkirk’s Felix Garcia drives the baseline.

The Dunkirk Marauders used high-pressure defense and timely shooting to wear down the Charter School for Applied Technology Eagles and came away with a 78-56 victory Monday in non-league boys basketball at Dunkirk High School.

The Marauders held a slim, 16-11 lead entering the second quarter before a barrage of 3-pointers opened up a sizable lead.

Tyreek Buchanan-Ruiz and Devaun Farnham hit back-to-back 3’s to open the quarter, followed by another Buchanan-Ruiz 3-pointer moments later to widen the margin to 27-18. The Marauders’ hot hand continued throughout the period as Noah Sobilo and Seth Rasmus added points from behind the arc as the first half came to a close.

“We’ve had a few games in a row with close to, or more than, 10 3-pointers in a game,” Dunkirk coach Jack O’Brien said. “These kids have dedicated themselves to becoming better shooters. You can also thank Steph Curry for making everyone think they can throw the ball up in the air. We only had seven 3-pointers tonight, but had it been a close game and we kept the starters in, I’m sure we would’ve gotten to 10-plus again. We have a number of guys who can knock it down and we are confident that if one guy doesn’t have it on any given night, someone else will be there to step up.”

Despite Dunkirk’s sharp shooting, the Eagles managed to stay in the game early by breaking the press and finding open baskets in the paint. In the first half, CSAT seemingly broke Dunkirk’s press at will, opening up fast break opportunities and layups for big man Ricardo Smith.

OBSERVER Photos by Mary Ann Wiberg Above, Dunkirk’s Darnell Butts (20) runs the offense during Monday’s non-league boys high school basketball game against CSAT. Below,

The Marauders took a 39-26 lead into halftime. During the break, Dunkirk tweaked its pressure and came out even more aggressively on defense in the second half.

The third period proved to be the difference for Dunkirk, as it managed to hold CSAT scoreless for the first five minutes of the period while it worked to open a 30-point lead.

“I think we managed to stifle them with the press,” O’Brien said. “We just have to keep pressure on teams and hope it will wear them down as the game goes on. (High pressure defense) is what we want Dunkirk basketball to be. We want to be in your face and don’t want anything to come easy. Our bench is very deep, and with the pace that we play at, we need guys coming off the bench that we can depend on.”

With 3:16 remaining in the third, Dunkirk held a 56-26 lead and the Eagles couldn’t find a way to get the ball up the court, let alone into the basket.

Meanwhile, Tyrese Kristan-Johnson continued to do work inside for the Marauders. Kristan-Johnson found repeated points in the paint, made open layups on the break and knocked down all but one free throw he took on his way to a game-high 22 points.

OBSERVER Photo by Mary Ann Wiberg Dunkirk’s Seth Rasmus (15) dribbles the ball while being defended by a CSAT defender during Monday’s non-league boys high school basketball game.

“He’s a great kid and he’s worked his butt off so far this year,” O’Brien said of Kristan-Johnson. “He’s strong with the ball and soft with his feet. He’s an excellent passer and he took multiple charges for us today. He also has great touch on his shot. He can literally do it all. It’s great to see him have a game like that because we expect a ton from him going forward. No one is surprised to see him have a game like that, but it’s nice to see a guy who works hard get rewarded like that.”

Kristan-Johnson single-handedly took over the game early, scoring 10 of Dunkirk’s 16 points in the first quarter, and managed to be a force at both ends of the floor throughout the contest.

With control of the game firmly in hand, the Marauders took the pedal off the floor in the fourth period, allowing the Eagles to score 22 points compared to the paltry eight they scored in the third. Three 3-pointers in the fourth helped CSAT dig itself out of the 30-point deficit, but by then it was far too little, too late.

Kristan-Johnson finished with 22 points while Butts scored 11 and Devaun Farnham added 10 points for Dunkirk.

CSAT was led by Smith’s 12 points and Jayden Gulledge scored seven points in the loss.

The Marauders are back in action on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Saint Francis before they begin league play on Dec. 20 when they travel to Falconer.