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Tyler Putney drops career-high 40 points as Fredonia cruises to 96-53 win vs. Southwestern

Hillbillies throttle Trojans

Fredonia’s Tyler Putney takes a shot over the Southwestern defense during Friday’s CCAA West 1 Division boys basketball game in Fredonia. OBSERVER Photo by Justin Goetz.

There are not many things harder to deal with on the basketball court than a hot shooter. Friday night, the Fredonia Hillbillies had just that in Tyler Putney against Southwestern, although a pair of teammates had to nudge him in the right direction.

“I’ve got a lot of friends on the Southwestern team, so everybody on my team was saying, ‘You’ve got this. Go out there and shoot.’,” said Putney. “Every time I shot it, I thought ‘I’m not missing unless they block it’.”

Spoiler alert: Southwestern didn’t block much from the 6-foot-5 Fredonia junior, which is much easier said than done.

Putney had the game of his life on Friday night, with a career-high 40 points including nine 3-pointers, to lead the Hillbillies to a 96-53 blowout of the Southwestern Trojans at Fredonia High School.

Fredonia (10-3, 4-1) didn’t take long to grab the lead. After Southwestern (3-10, 2-3) scored the game’s first two points, Kaleb Rybij hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Fredonia an early lead. Putney scored his first two points after that to cap off a Fredonia 8-0 run. Southwestern cut the score to 8-5, but that was the closest the game would be the rest of the way. Fredonia closed the quarter on another 8-0 run to lead 16-5 after one period.

Fredonia’s Nick Whitfield attempts a floater during Friday’s game. Fredonia topped Southwestern 96-55 behind 40 points from Tyler Putney, while Whitfield and Kaleb Rybij both had 20-plus points. OBSERVER Photo by Justin Goetz.

The Hillbillies started the second quarter on a 12-0 run, which marked 20 straight points for the home team. At that point, Fredonia led 28-5. The closest the game was from that point was at 18 points apart at 32-14.

“With us getting buckets inside early, that forced (Southwestern) to collapse,” said Fredonia coach Nick Bertrando. “That got some looks for Tyler and some other guys, which fortunately went down for us.”

Putney drilled his second 3-pointer of the quarter to put Fredonia back up by 21 points. Then, Fredonia’s Nick Whitfield had a stellar finish to the first half, as he had a two-handed slam in transition to ignite the crowd with 38 seconds left in the period. He then followed up with a layup at the buzzer to end the first half with Fredonia ahead 39-14. Whitfield led the Hillbillies with 13 points, while Putney began to heat up with 10 points in the second quarter to give him 12 at the break. Rybij added 10 points to give Fredonia three scorers in double digits in the first half. Rybij added a 3-pointer early in the second half to push Fredonia’s lead to 42-16 early in the third frame.

From then on, it was all about Putney. Fredonia’s sharp-shooter hit back-to-back 3-pointers to lengthen the lead to 28 points, 48-20. He then hit another 3-pointer and a pair of layups in the frame to give himself 13 points in the period and 25 points through three quarters, which was already a career best.

In the fourth quarter, however, Putney was really starting to feel it. He had two early 3-pointers to eclipse 30 points for the first time. Then, Putney fought for a rebound and got a second-chance layup to put Fredonia ahead 72-36. Whitfield had a layup through contact to follow. Then, Rybij converted four straight free-throws after a technical foul.

As many 3-pointers as Putney had to that point (7), he even one-upped his performance with what followed. Putney showed that even a foul couldn’t stop his hot shooting night, as he drilled a 3-pointer through contact and finished with a four-point play. Putney’s ninth 3-pointer capped off his 40-point performance. He also had a team-high 13 rebounds.

“My teammates looked for me and I just caught fire,” said Putney. “I work on it every day in practice. I caught fire and the hoop opened up.”

Whitfield added 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Fredonia, while Rybij had 20 points and five rebounds. Dom Gullo had six points and six assists.

“We’re great. Whitfield had a great game, Kaleb (Rybij) had a day too. It was just one of those days where we couldn’t miss,” said Putney.

Fredonia now looks ahead to a huge game on Thursday, when the Hillbillies host league-leading Allegany-Limestone. In the first matchup, the score was tied at 36-all in the third quarter, but the Hillbillies eventually fell on the road. That was the only loss in league play for the Hillbillies this season, and after Allegany-Limestone’s victory over Dunkirk on Friday, it means the Hillbillies would fall two games back should they lose. The importance of the game is clear to the Hillbillies looking ahead.

“Every time we have the opportunity to play at home, we always want to represent Fredonia proudly,” said Bertrando. “… I would hope this gives us some momentum with a big showdown with Allegany-Limestone coming up. … Hopefully we can bottle some of this up and get out to a great start.”

Twitter: @bradencarmen

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