Milestone reached

Fry is Fredonia’s latest basketball player to hit 1,000-point mark

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia’s Ethan Fry celebrates during a game at Dunkirk during his senior season. Fry recorded a triple-double in a win over the Marauders that night.

When Ethan Fry first moved to Fredonia from Texas back in middle school, varsity basketball head coach Nick Bertrando immediately noticed he was an athlete.

“Sometimes you get a sense of the potential of kids at a young age,” Bertrando said. “I could tell this kid had some potential.”

But with the uncertainty of everything in the years that followed, it would’ve been hard to predict just where Ethan Fry would actually end up when it was all said and done.

The eventual end to that story was a harsh final chapter to an otherwise storybook script, as Fry registered his 1,000th career point on the varsity basketball team at Fredonia in his final game, an overtime loss against Newark in the Far West Regional game.

“It’s very bittersweet right now,” Fry said after his final game. “I’m happy that I got that career milestone, because not many people are able to get that in high school basketball.”

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia senior captain Ethan Fry proudly celebrated a blue patch to signify a Section VI Champion after the Hillbillies defeated Salamanca on March 4 at Buffalo State Sports Arena.

Fry accomplished the feat just seconds before the halfway point of the second quarter, as a layup accounted for his seventh point of the contest and the 1,000th of his career.

“It puts him in elite company in Fredonia history,” Bertrando said of Fry’s accomplishment.

The extra games Fredonia earned on its magical run through the postseason gave Fry the chance to become the school’s 11th player to score 1,000 points. Of those 11 players, five have come within the last decade, including three straight years for the Hillbillies. Tyler Putney reached 1,000 points during his senior season in 2021, Fry’s first season on the varsity team. Then, Nick Whitfield followed with his own 1,000-point milestone during his senior season in 2022. This year, Fry took his turn in accomplishing the feat that has become surprisingly common in the Fredonia program.

“This is the third straight year we’ve had a 1,000-point scorer. I think that’s a testament to our program at Fredonia, and a lot of it is on them. They deserve the credit for their competitiveness,” said Bertrando. “To really just see them grow as athletes and as young men, it’s been so rewarding. The leadership all three of them have gained and performed with … I think that’s special.”

Bertrando has played a role in coaching the last five 1,000-point scorers at Fredonia. As the junior varsity coach prior to his last five years running the varsity team, Bertrando coached Dylan Meyer before he reached 1,000 points on varsity in 2014. He also coached John Piper before he reached the 1,000-point mark on varsity in 2015. John’s brother, Keith Piper, was part of Bertrando’s first varsity team when he took over five years ago.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach a lot of these guys. Just since I’ve been part of the program, we’ve had some guys do a lot of special things. It’s really rewarding to see these young boys grow into young men that do great things on the floor and, hopefully, continue to do them off the floor and become great members of the community,” Bertrando said.

But of the five recent players to hit the milestone, the most unlikely of the group was Fry — not because his talent was any less than the other four, but because of the uncertainty of the circumstances surrounding the majority of his varsity career.

Fry came up to the varsity team as a sophomore, during the COVID-19 restrictions, which shortened the season compared to any normal year. Most teams play 20 games in the regular season each year, plus the possibility for additional games in the postseason. But in Fry’s first season, Fredonia went all the way and won a sectional championship in Class B3, in just 17 games.

“Going into his sophomore year, I thought he could make a real impact on the varsity team,” said Bertrando, who often had Fry as a guest at his home throughout the summers to help with his training. “We didn’t even know if we would have a season at all.”

On top of the shortened season, Fry was on a team with two eventual 1,000-point scorers, Putney and Whitfield. But after Whitfield suffered an injury early in the year, Fry was thrust into a bigger role than anticipated.

That increased workload set Fry up well for his second varsity season, as a junior in 2021-22. Just as he did next to Putney after Whitfield left the lineup the year prior, Fry filled the role of a second key scorer alongside Whitfield. As Whitfield led Fredonia with more than 500 points in his final season, Fry contributed 377 points of his own — an average of 18 points per game — to help carry the offense of the Hillbillies.

But as a senior, Fry didn’t take on a larger role in the absence of another 1,000-point scorer. Instead, Fry became the focal point of the offense in a different way — by facilitating the offense through any means necessary.

“He really took a backseat to what he was last year as a scorer. We asked him to take a different role as a facilitator,” Bertrando said.

Obviously, it worked.

Fry managed to record a triple-double three times, including his final home game, a playoff win over Akron. He finished with 415 points, 163 rebounds, and 141 assists in 27 games for the Hillbillies. After back-to-back seasons with two main scorers for the Fredonia offense, with Fry at the helm, the Hillbillies managed four players averaging more than11 points per game in 2022-23. Fry’s 15.4 points per game led the way, with Davi White (13.9), Mike Hahn (11.7), and Jay Hawk (11.4) close behind. Fry also ranked second in all of Section VI in assists.

But after Fredonia’s playoff win over Akron, Fry was still 90 points shy of 1,000 in his career. In a win-or-go-home scenario for the rest of his career, Fry and the Hillbillies just continued to win. Fredonia won six straight games in the postseason, including five consecutive upsets as the lower seed.

“I told him, ‘If you just keep winning, it’s going to happen.'” Bertrando said after the sectional championship game victory over Salamanca.

After a thrilling overtime victory in the Class B crossover game against Lewiston-Porter, Fry admitted that the pressure of hitting 1,000 points was on his mind throughout the game. He credited his teammates for picking him up to continue his career, as a 15-point performance in the game left him just seven points shy of 1,000.

But in what ended up being Fry’s final game, the thought appeared as if it was nowhere near his mind that Saturday afternoon in Rochester at the Far West Regionals.

“I’m not sure he really knew what he had the whole time. He was just so invested in that game,” Bertrando said of Fry’s performance at the Far West Regional game against Newark.

Fry had 5 points in the opening quarter, which made every possession in the tight contest all that much more important. When his moment finally came, Fry took advantage. Halfway through the second quarter, Fry stole the ball near mid-court and broke free from the defense. Dribbling down the court, Fry looked as calm as he had all season long, as he rose in the paint and converted the layup. There was not a reaction from Fry after the ball went through the net, or even a pause in the action, as the Fredonia senior captain finally hit the 1,000-point mark in his final varsity basketball game.

“For him to be able to do it is pretty amazing,” Bertrando said. “I’m just really excited and happy he was able to accomplish that.”

The ending to the season was bitter, as Fry’s career came to an end as Fredonia was eliminated shortly after an inadvertent whistle by the referee cost the Hillbillies a trip to the state Final Four. But the magical run through the postseason did more than keep Fredonia’s hopes at a state title alive. The run also kept Fry’s career going just long enough to etch his name in the record books as a third consecutive 1,000-point scorer for the Fredonia Hillbillies.

“Senior year, it was incredible,” Fry said. “We re-wrote the history books at Fredonia.”

That part of Fredonia’s story, however, is pretty sweet.


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