‘Billies dominate T’Birds, 79-37

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia’s Nate Shuart (right) goes up for a layup while guarded by Chautauqua Lake’s Trey Sauerland (left) during Tuesday’s game at Fredonia High School. The Hillbillies won, 79-37.

In a tough division like Division 1 West in the CCAA, there are plenty of tough games and challenging environments on the league schedule. On Tuesday night, Fredonia made its case for the toughest environment of all for visiting teams, with a dominant 79-37 win over Chautauqua Lake at Fredonia High School.

Early on, both teams struggled to get anything going offensively. The first points of the game came on a layup by Fredonia’s Keith Piper with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter.

“At that point, I thought both teams were trying to figure each other out,” said Chautauqua Lake coach Mike Putney. “Fredonia figured us out real quick.”

Fredonia (7-4, 4-1) did continue its trend of slow starts, and found itself with only a one point lead, 11-10, toward the end of the first quarter. However, the Hillbillies bounced back to end the first quarter with seven straight points, and led 18-10 after one period of play.

Chautauqua Lake (5-4, 1-4) matched Fredonia early in the second quarter, splitting the first 16 points of the frame evenly. The score was 26-18 Fredonia — and then it all changed. Fredonia finished the first half on a 15-4 run to take a 41-22 lead into halftime over the visiting Thunderbirds.

“We got after it,” said Fredonia coach Nick Bertrando. “We started to turn up the pressure a little bit on defense and turn some of those turnovers into transition buckets.”

It didn’t get any better for Chautauqua Lake in the second half. Fredonia smothered the usually high scoring Thunderbirds throughout the third quarter and held the visitors to only five points in the frame. Fredonia’s 20-5 advantage in the third quarter quickly turned the game into a blowout, which prompted both coaches to pull the starters early in the fourth quarter.

“We had a good system coming in,” said Putney. “We didn’t all stick to the system, and when you don’t do that, bad things will happen.”

Fredonia was led by Brayden Myers with 11 points. Nate Shuart had 10 points and 7 rebounds for the Hillbillies.

Coming off a performance where he scored a season-high 38 points against Maple Grove, Chautauqua Lake’s Zach Fischer was held in check by Fredonia all night long. The talented Thunderbirds guard finished with just six points, while no member of Chautauqua Lake reached double digits in scoring.

“All year long we’ve stressed that it’s got to start on the defensive end,” said Bertrando, who admitted after the game that shutting down Fischer was part of his team’s gameplan. “All of the teams in our league have key guys who can put the ball in the basket. … (Fischer) is an athlete. He’s a guy who, if he gets hot, we’re going to be in trouble.”

Putney knows that Fredonia’s defense was a big factor in the result.

“Hats off to Fredonia. Their defense was intense. They were right in our face,” said Putney.

Chautauqua Lake is off for the rest of the week, before another league contest next Tuesday, at Dunkirk.

“I told the guys in the locker room ‘You’ve got to learn from this.'” said Putney. “Tomorrow is a new day and we’ve got to go right back at it.”

Fredonia is back on the court on Friday night at Maple Grove, who will be well-rested after the loss to Chautauqua Lake last Friday.

“We take it one game at a time,” said Bertrando. “Every league game is difficult, and that’s the nice thing about this league. I would much prefer to play in a league where we’re tested.”

Fredonia will certainly be tested throughout the rest of its league schedule. But one thing is for sure — after Tuesday night’s display, no team in the league will underestimate the test that is playing the Hillbillies in Fredonia.

Twitter: @bradencarmen