Fast start lifts Hillbillies to win

Dunkirk’s inability to hang on to the basketball, coupled with Fredonia’s stellar play at both ends of the court, led to a lopsided score early in Thursday’s contest.

From there, the Hillbillies never looked back as they went on to top the Marauders, 73-53, in a CCAA West 1 boys high school basketball matchup.

“Not turning the ball over is something we’ve been working on,” Dunkirk coach Steve O’Brien said. “Before the game, we talked about keeping the number of turnovers under 20. We wanted to push the ball down the court and take the first good shot we had. When you get out and run like that, there is going to be turnovers, but we would be lucky if we kept it under 20 in the first quarter.”

Fredonia’s hot start allowed the home team to jump out to a 14-2 lead with just three minutes gone off the clock.

A big part of Fredonia’s game plan was to press the Marauders and force them into turning the ball over.

“Getting out to a lead quick was key for us,” Fredonia coach Greg Lauer said. “Our guys were strong on the press, and on offense, we pushed the ball up the floor well.”

On a few different occasions in the first quarter, the Hillbillies were able to intercept Dunkirk’s inbound pass and convert the turnovers into easy layups. Those easy buckets added up quick for Fredonia as it took a commanding 26-7 lead through the first eight minutes of play.

In the second quarter, the Marauders were able to control the ball much better, which led to more scoring opportunities. Leading the way for the visitors was Michael Bess, who scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the second quarter to give Dunkirk a much-needed boost.

“Fredonia came out and played tenacious,” O’Brien said. “After the first quarter, we got used to the tempo and had a couple possessions where we could have closed the gap to about 13 or 14 points, but we were never able to.”

The Hillbillies held onto a 43-24 lead at halftime and continued to score in bunches in the second half.

“Our guys attacked the basket and didn’t settle for jump shots,” Lauer said. “Doing this also got a couple of their guys in foul trouble. We didn’t shoot all that well from the field or from the line, but we were still able to score 73 points.”

Fredonia outscored Dunkirk 21-16 in the third quarter, with a number of Marauders in and out of the game with foul trouble.

“We got some good minutes from our bench,” O’Brien said. “This was the first time we’ve had our whole bench available, which was a good thing because a couple of the guys were in some foul trouble. Us picking up the fouls is just a credit to Fredonia setting the high screens and going hard to the basket.”

While the Hillbillies cruised to victory, they were also able to rest their starters for most of the fourth quarter and give some guys a little more playing time.

“Nick Johnston led us in our press and forced Dunkirk into making some bad passes,” Lauer said. “Dylan Meyer and John Piper did a great job of driving to the basket, while Cam Voss did a lot of the rebounding for us. Pat Moore did a good job coming off the bench for us.”

Meyer led all scorers with 24 points and chipped in six boards while Piper had 13. Voss had a solid overall game with three points, eight boards, four assists and five blocks.

Also Helping out Dunkirk’s cause was Rashad Brown with 12 points.

“Esmond Colvin pulled down a bunch of big rebounds for us,” O’Brien said. “And I think Rashad, as a sophomore in his first Dunkirk-Fredonia game, had a nice night for us.”

Fredonia will be traveling to Erie to play Fairview on Monday while Dunkirk battles Chautauqua Lake on Saturday.