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‘Team ball’

Southwestern downs Fredonia to improve to 4-0

Fredonia would show stretches of promise during Wednesday night’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 West matchup with host Southwestern, but a combination of balanced scoring and team defense would be enough for the Trojans to secure a 63-55 victory.

Southwestern moved to 4-0 on the year and 3-0 in league play by weathering an early stretch of hot shooting by Fredonia (3-1, 2-1), and holding senior captain Tyler Putney in check for the first three quarters of the night.

“We really wanted to make things difficult on Putney; he is their guy and we knew that,” Trojans coach Aaron Emley said. “We wanted to force the ball out of his hands and make the other guys beat us. Credit to them in the first half, they had eight 3s. They really shot the ball well in the first half so we had to make some adjustments at halftime.”

It took a few possessions for the Hillbillies to get their feet on the ground, as Southwestern jumped out to quick 11-0 lead behind a pair of finishes from Calvin Ricker and a second-chance 3 by Zishan Munir.

The Trojans would extend their early lead and end the first quarter with a 19-7 advantage after a nice pair of assists by Nate Johnson and another 3 by Munir.

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Reagle Fredonia’s Tyler Putney shoots a jumper over Southwestern’s Nate Johnson during Wednesday’s CCAA Division 1 West game in West Ellicott.

Fredonia would get on the board with a putback by Mike Berg and a 3 from Gabe Schrader toward the end of the opening period.

“They played excellent, they played very, very well tonight,” Fredonia coach Nick Bertrando said. “We knew that they were fully capable of that, we talked about it before the game. They are well coached, these guys are getting after it and we knew right from the get-go that the name of the game was intensity. Especially when you are playing on the road, regardless of fans, it is their gym. We are both in a position where we are off to good starts here, but we didn’t have the intensity and they did.”

Bertrando would rally his team after that hot start by the hosts, as Fredonia caught fire early in the second with three consecutive 3s from Dom Gullo, Putney and Nick Frazier.

Southwestern’s offense would stall in the face of hot shooting from the visitors, which would continue with a drive by Putney, and two more 3s each from Gullo and Frazier.

That quick burst would give Fredonia its first lead at 29-28.

“When we finally started to settle ourselves down and match their intensity on our end, on the defensive end, we started to be able to get a little more comfortable,” Bertrando said. “Whereas, when you get down early, you start pressing a little bit, thinking about shots instead of being in rhythm and taking it. Once we were able to get a couple of stops and get that kind of momentum on the defensive end, that kind of supercharged our offense and it gave us some opportunities to get some open looks.”

The Hillbillies would take a 32-28 lead into halftime, forcing Emley to stress some new points for his team.

“Making sure that we press out and take away the 3-ball,” Emley told his team. “Really forcing them to take midrange and runners in the lane. Good perimeter defense, and then help in behind so they don’t get all the way to the rim, just trying to force that middle.”

The switch in gameplan would work, as Southwestern began to regain its lead with strong defense and inside buckets from Ricker and a couple of transition buckets by Jason Ni off the bench.

Ricker would score 10 of his 23 points in the third quarter to go along with three assists and seven rebounds, while Nate Johnson would pick up all seven of his points in the third quarter with a 3, an inside shot and a pair of makes at the free-throw line to go along with three assists and a team-high nine rebounds.

“When he settles down and he thinks the game he is a great basketball player,” Emley said of Ricker “He makes good decisions and he is a facilitator for our team. We’ve got to have him do that and he knows that.”

After struggling to get his game going for three quarters, Putney would break out for 16 of his team-high 21 in the fourth, but Fredonia was unable to muster additional offense down the home stretch.

Aidan Kennedy would add 16 points for the Trojans in a balanced effort that included five assists, six rebounds and five steals while Matt Pannes chipped in 7 points.

Gullo would finish with 11 and Frazier 12 on four 3s for Fredonia.

“It makes a team tougher to gameplan for when you have to prepare for five, and I think we have all five right now playing team ball,” Emley said. “We talk about distributing the ball, I have a couple guys, Jason Ni … Simon Pirello has come off the bench a couple of times helping out … so we are trying to get everybody involved and I think that just makes us tougher to gameplan for.”

FREDONIA (55)

Gullo 4 1 11, Putney 6 6 21, Berg 3 0 6, Frazier 4 0 12, Lemiszko 0 0 0, Fry 1 0 2, Schrader 1 0 3. Totals 19 7 55.

SOUTHWESTERN (63)

Munir 2 0 6, Kennedy 6 4 16, Johnson 2 2 7, Pannes 3 1 7, Ricker 11 1 23, Ni 2 0 4. Totals 26 8 63.

3-point goals–Munir 2, Johnson, Gullo 2, Putney 3, Frazier 4, Schrader.

Fredonia 7 25 9 14 — 55

Southwestern 19 9 19 16 — 63

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