Marauders drop Billies for second time this season
After the first quarter, Monday’s CCAA West I boys basketball game between the Dunkirk Marauders (9-7, 6-2) and Fredonia Hillbillies (5-11) had all the makings of a classic rivalry match.
After a back-and-forth period, Fredonia held a slim, 16-15 lead.
Fast forward three quarters and the first period was an afterthought in a 79-55 blowout victory for the Marauders at Fredonia High School.
“I’m thrilled with the way we came out and to start the second half,” Dunkirk coach Jack O’Brien said. “We knew it would be a tough test in a tough environment. (Fredonia) has been playing good at home recently and will always give us their best shot. It was nice to see us respond after a tough first and not let the environment get to us. It was a big step for in growing up as a team.”
Fredonia got off to a good start on the back of hot shooting by Lucas Voss, who scored eight points in the quarter and stayed hot throughout the contest. Dunkirk started by slashing to the basket and accumulating points in the paint, but couldn’t match the Hillbillies output from behind the 3-point line.
The two teams exchanged the lead five times in a highly competitive first quarter.
“It’s a game our guys definitely came in wanting, but against a team like Dunkirk, you have to do every little thing right,” Fredonia coach Greg Lauer said. “We didn’t do that. We started off very well then got in a rut and couldn’t finish. I liked our aggressiveness early when we attacked the basket. We were finding Lucas (Voss) open a lot. Then they went to zone and we decide we aren’t going to attack them anymore. If you don’t attack Dunkirk, they are going to get turnovers and run away with it.”
In the second, it was Dunkirk who got hot from behind the arc.
Four different Marauders hit 3’s in the quarter as the visitors poured in 23 points and held Fredonia to 12 to take a 38-28 lead into the half.
In the second half, Dunkirk’s combination of Shamon Stewart and Tyrese Kristan-Johnson proved to be too much for Fredonia to handle as their combination of inside presence (Kristan-Johnson) and floor awareness (Stewart) helped the Marauders increase their lead.
“We were outsized and tried the zone early, but they were hitting 3’s,” Lauer said. “Then we went to man and we just couldn’t stay with their big guys. They bodied us up and we couldn’t get the help defense we needed off the 3-point shooters because we couldn’t keep giving those up. Eventually they established the inside game on us and took over.”
Highlighting the second half surge was Kristan-Johnson’s fast-break dunk with 1:30 left in the third, which got the Dunkirk fans out of their seats and put a final hush over the home crowd.
Kristan-Johnson may have stood out on the floor in the second half, but it was Stewart’s silky smooth play throughout the game that truly propelled Dunkirk to victory.
“Shamon has the art of playing cooled down,” O’Brien said with a laugh. “He makes unbelievably difficult things look like anyone can do them. His court vision is unreal. The pace of his passes is tough to defend because you don’t expect a guy to be able to fit the ball into a tiny little pocket when you’re looking to play help defense. He can really make you pay. He can go to the rack, has great runners and everything he does is just a thing of beauty.”
If not for Voss’ sharpshooting the game would’ve broken open further than it did. No matter how much attention the senior guard demanded from Dunkirk’s defense, Voss was still able to pour in deep shot after deep shot.
Voss finished with a game-high 27 points to go with three steals, but in the end it was all to prevent a further blowout as the Marauders combination of speed, size and shooting was too much.
Stewart led Dunkirk with nine points, 12 rebounds and eight assists while Kristan-Johnson added 15 points, all in the second half. Noah Sobilo also filled the stat sheet with 10 points, nine assists and six rebounds.
Nate Shuart scored 10 points for Fredonia in the loss while Reid Tarnowski finished with four rebounds and three assists.
Up next for Dunkirk is a pivotal league matchup with Olean, at home, on Thursday. Olean is one of the Marauders’ only two league losses this season.
For Fredonia, it’s a trip to Buffalo to play Bishop Walsh on Wednesday.