Fredonia holds off Prince Alfred College, 70-66

Dylan Meyer followed his 36-point performance Saturday with 22 points on Sunday, helping Fredonia (2-1) hold off Prince Alfred College, 70-66, in boys’ basketball action at Fredonia High School.

“When Dylan’s going to the basket strong and he’s scoring, everyone kind of feeds off that,” Fredonia head coach Greg Lauer said. “It’s key for us early.”

Things didn’t start all that well for the Hillbillies, as the Princes, a team that is visiting the area this week from Adelaide, Australia, jumped out to an early 11-2 lead.

“Some of it’s fatigue and we haven’t had a practice since Tuesday,” Lauer said, referring to the cancelation of practices due to the bad weather that has hit the area recently. “So, certainly that’s part of it and I don’t think our legs were quite into it. But we’ve got to play better defense right from the start. We just weren’t quite quick enough.”

Down nine, Lauer called a timeout to rally the troops and the Hillbillies responded by ending the first quarter on an 12-4 run to close the Princes’ lead to 15-14.

“The one thing about basketball is it’s a game of momentum swings,” Prince Alfred College head coach Mark Davis said. “It’s a roller-coaster ride and Fredonia is a good basketball club and I was sure they were going to make a run.”

Fredonia started the second quarter as hot as it finished the first as Meyer scored 13 points to help the Hillbillies to a 37-28 lead at the break.

“We picked it up defensively a little bit,” Lauer said. “And started rebounding a little better and kind of got into the flow of the game. I don’t think our guys were quite ready for the intensity (Prince Alfred College) was going to bring.”

“I guess the most important thing was I knew they were going to make a run at us,” Davis added. “I was more concerned on how (my team) would handle (Fredonia’s) run and I thought we handled it very well.”

Coming out of halftime, Lauer was hoping his Hillbillies would be able to add to the nine-point cushion it had built to end the first half. But the Princes had other ideas, especially Tom Leggett, who scored eight of his game-high 23 points during the third quarter.

“He’s growing more into his own,” Davis said. “He’s gaining more and more confidence every time we play. I think he’s starting to understand his own ability and understand the role he plays on our team a little better.”

“He rebounded very well for them,” Lauer added of Leggett. “He got to the basket really well. We didn’t have an answer for him. I tried switching off two and three guys trying to guard him and he just did a great job of getting by (them) and finishing really strong (in the paint).”

Prince Alfred outscored Fredonia 17-12 in the third quarter, closing the gap to four, 49-45.

“I thought our guys fought it out,” Davis said of his team’s effort. “That’s one of the core things we’re trying to address as a group and try to create an identity for ourselves. I think there were a couple times where Fredonia got the upper hand on us, but we fought it out to give ourselves a chance. I’m very proud of the guys and how they went about their business.”

The final quarter was a back-and-forth battle, with the Princes getting to within one at 50-49, but that was as close as they would get to picking up their first win during their trip to Western New York, as the Hillbillies held on for the 70-66 win.

“That’s a credit to Fredonia,” Davis said. “They hit some big shots down the stretch. A couple of times we played some solid defense on them, but they hit a great shot. That’s what good ball clubs and good players do.”

Hitting the majority of those big shots for the Hillbillies was junior Cam Voss, who scored eight of his 12 points over the course of the game’s final eight minutes.

“He stepped up with rebounding and offensively,” Lauer said of Voss. “He was able to get some put-backs for us and he hit some free throws. He was pretty big for us down the stretch.”

Despite the win, Lauer knows there is a lot more work his team needs to do before it heads into the meat of its schedule.

“We need to start playing harder on the offensive boards,” Lauer noted. “And defensively, start playing more as a unit. We just need to hopefully pick that up as the week progresses. We have two big games coming up.”

As for Prince Alfred College, the trip to the area is as much about playing basketball as it is about an experience the players, coaches and family members will not soon forget.

“The whole thing is they’re making friends from the other side of the globe,” Davis said. “And they’re learning about a different culture and the American kids are learning about some of the things kids do in Australia. And I guess the lifelong friends and the relationships they will build over the years, those are the things that will last you a lifetime. And the village has been absolutely fantastic here.”

One experience Davis and his players will not soon forget is their trip Saturday to see Niagara Falls.

“When we all were there (Saturday), we all found it so amazing,” Davis said. “The shear strength of Mother Nature and the power that actually surrounds that place, I just think it’s a very extraordinary thing that everybody in the world should travel to (see).”

Even if it meant traveling through wind, snow and cold.

“Me being from Philadelphia, I kind of knew what we were coming in to,” Davis said. “But for some of these kids, it’s a fantastic experience, because they’ve never seen snow before. So, I guess when they got out here, they didn’t care anything about the cold weather. They wanted to make a snowball in their hands. And that’s fantastic. So long as they are growing from it, we’re quite happy.”

On the court, Davis, who played professionally in New Zealand and Mexico, before landing in Australia where he played for 17 years, sees a difference in how the game is played in Western New York and in Australia.

“I think it may be a little bit more intense here,” Davis said. “And I think it’s a great experience for our kids to play against that, because we don’t get that level of intensity night in and night out (in Australia). And I think if we had to train against this and play against this every day, which I would love for our team to experience, I think we can only get better as a group.”

Lauer, who coached against the Princes during their last trip to the area three years ago, was certainly left with a good impression of how basketball is played at Prince Alfred College in 2013.

“I don’t remember them playing this hard,” Lauer said. “They don’t have a ton of great basketball players, but they just played so hard (Sunday). They were very good in terms of the fundamentals and it certainly was an eye-opener for our guys. I don’t think they were ready for it.”

NOTES: Piper finished with 18 points in the win while Voss added 10 rebounds to go with his 12 points … Nick Johnston chipped in six points and 10 assists for the Hillbillies … Pat Moore had eight points and five rebounds … For the Princes, Dan Fahey-Sparks had 13 points.