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‘Billies are hot beyond arc in opening win

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia senior Mike Hahn celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer during Friday’s season-opening nonleague boys basketball game against the West Seneca West Warhawks at Fredonia High School. Hahn had six 3-pointers in the 69-34 Fredonia victory.

A year ago, the Fredonia Hillbillies won a Section VI championship, and were just a few seconds away from a trip to the state final four.

But Friday night was the beginning of a new chapter for Fredonia Basketball, and at least for a night, no one could tell this year’s team is any less special.

Paced by a hot shooting night that featured 14 Fredonia 3-pointers, the Hillbillies claimed a season-opening victory over nonleague West Seneca West in dominant fashion 69-34 at Fredonia High School.

“It was really just unselfish play,” Fredonia head coach Nick Bertrando said of his team continuing to find the open man from beyond the arc.

Fredonia senior Mike Hahn, who hit what was nearly the game-winning 3-pointer that would have sent the Hillbillies to the final four last season, said that last season’s bitter ending was not a focal point coming into Friday’s contest.

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia senior Davion White dribbles the ball in transition during Friday’s nonleague boys basketball game against the West Seneca West Warhawks at Fredonia High School.

“Coach really is just always looking forward. Last year was last year, and this is a different team. We have to prove ourselves this year,” Hahn said.

Still, Fredonia (1-0) stumbled out of the gate and began the game in an early 8-3 hole, just before the halfway point of the opening quarter.

A 3-pointer from Ashton Putney represented the only points for the Hillbillies in nearly four minutes of action.

“We started off the game shooting very, very poorly, and in my opinion, not great shot selection,” Bertrando said. “I think we were a little over anxious.”

But from there, it changed very quickly. The Hillbillies rattled off 10 straight points over the final 4:05 of the opening period to lead 13-8 over West Seneca West (0-1) after one quarter.

Fredonia had three players hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter: Putney, Hahn and R.J. Koopman.

The Hillbillies carried their hot shooting over into the second quarter, as Fredonia hit its first three 3-pointers of the period, including back-to-back shots from Hahn. At the exact same point in the second quarter compared to the opening frame, Fredonia’s five-point deficit turned into a 28-11 lead. The Hillbillies scored 25 of 28 points in the stretch.

“It was just a simple fact of them truly recognizing, ‘This isn’t what we’ve worked on.’ It wasn’t what we have talked about or what we strive to do,” Bertrando said.

After a 30-point second quarter, Fredonia led 43-18 at the break. Hahn had 15 points on five 3-pointers, while Davion White posted a 14-point second quarter, in which he went 5 for 6 from the free-throw line and also hit a 3-pointer.

Fredonia could have coasted the rest of the way for a victory, but the Hillbillies kept the pressure on. In the first game of the season, after losing five seniors including double-digit per game scorers Ethan Fry and Jay Hawk from the sectional championship team a year ago, Bertrando wanted to see what he had in this year’s team, not only in terms of depth, but also from the starters thrust into larger roles.

“Tradition doesn’t graduate,” Bertrando said.

The second half’s leading scorer was Putney with three 3-pointers in the third quarter. Fredonia hit six 3-pointers in the second half, even with a 25-point lead at the break.

“This really just showed how we reloaded as a team. We lost a lot of players that helped us last year, but we brought up some new guys that are really helping us out,” Hahn said.

The Hillbillies outscored West Seneca West in every quarter of Friday’s game. Eight Hillbillies scored in the contest, led by Hahn with 18 points, all on 3-pointers. White had 16 points, while Putney had 12 points, also all on 3-pointers. White and Putney shared the team-high in assists with five apiece.

The newcomers to the Fredonia rotation from a year ago were led by Koopman with 8 points. Colin Luce added 6 points, Ian Ferguson had 4 points, Brennan Lincoln made a layup in the first quarter and Jameson Quinn hit a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter.

“This year, we definitely are looking to stretch the floor more, to have five guys on the court that are a threat to score from really anywhere. I think that really will make us dangerous this year,” Hahn said.

In addition to the 14 Fredonia 3-pointers, the Hillbillies tallied 23 assists, compared to just eight turnovers.

“We can get a good shot off the first pass; we can get a better shot off the second pass; but if we’re patient, we can get the best shot possible on that possession just by being patient and being unselfish,” Bertrando said.

Fredonia now looks ahead to next Saturday when the Hillbillies face Lackawanna in a nonleague game to be played at Daemen University. Bertrando hopes that as the season progresses, his team can write its own story after such a special season a year ago.

“Last season is in the past. It is what it is,” Bertrando said. ” … Last year was great, but it’s over. We’re not thinking of us as defending champions. We don’t want to play defensive. We’re going to hopefully get after it again, and if all things come together … hopefully we’re in a position to make a run again.”

WEST SENECA WEST (34)

Shaibi 1 0 2, Riccio 0 0 0, French 2 0 6, Dana 0 1 1, Piwowarczyk 1 0 2, Collura 1 0 2, Shinners 0 0 0, Vanderlip 6 1 13, Otis 0 1 1, Gervasio 0 2 2, Whittaker 1 3 5. Totals 12 8 34.

FREDONIA (69)

Hahn 6 0 18, Ferguson 2 0 4, Dowdy 0 0 0, Quinn 1 0 3, Koopman 2 2 8, Field 0 0 0, Putney 4 0 12, Drummond 0 0 0, White 5 5 16, Lincoln 1 0 2, Luce 3 0 6. Totals 24 7 69.

3-point goals–French 2, Hahn 6, Quinn, Koopman 2, Putney 4, White.

West Seneca West 8 10 9 7 — 34

Fredonia 13 30 16 10 — 69

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