Hillbillies fall to No. 4 ranked team in WNY, 72-65

St. Mary’s of Lancaster (16-5) erased an 11-point halftime deficit en route to a 72-65 win over Fredonia (14-4) Wednesday night during non-league boys basketball action, spoiling the Hillbillies’ Senior Night in the process.

“It’s certainly a game we wanted, but at the same token, it was a fantastic game,” Fredonia head coach Greg Lauer said. “It’s everything we wanted. We wanted a tough team, (St. Mary’s) is the No. 4 team in Western New York for small schools, they’ve played some great teams this year and beaten some great teams. Sure, it would have been nice to win – and we wanted to win – but at the same token, we thought it was great preparation for (the playoffs) next week.”

Down 39-28 heading into the third quarter, the Lancers outscored the Hillbillies, 17-11, in the third quarter and 27-15 over the game’s final eight minutes to pull off the come-from-behind win.

“Fredonia’s a great team,” St. Mary’s head coach Paul Rath said. “We matched up very well with them and Greg (Lauer) was nice enough to have us down here. And those guys, I wish them the best of luck in their playoffs as well.”

It was a great test,” Rath continued. “We’ve got Canisius on Friday and they’re all man-to-man (defense), so this was a great test for us and we’re going to get better from it.”

Tyler English scored 15 of his team-high 25 points in the second half while Matt Wrobel chipped in eight of his 19 points and Terel Tyson added all eight of his eight points in the fourth quarter for the Lancers.

“He works really hard and he’s probably the leading scorer throughout the year so far,” Rath said of English. “But on any give night, we could have two, three or four leading scorers.

“Matt played hard,” Rath continued “(English and Wrobel) are our two team captains and he puts forth a good effort every time he steps on the court. He’s getting better and better. He made a lot of tough shots to get us going and he’s the vocal point on the bench.”

After outscoring the Lancers in the first half, the Hillbillies’ offense went cold in the second half, as it had just nine field goals and made 7 of 9 free throws.

“You can say all along that you want to defend people,” Lauer said. “But if you can’t put the ball in the bucket, you’re not going to win games. And we didn’t do that in the second half. We missed a lot of threes, a lot of open looks, and missed some layups late in the game that could have helped turn the tables on (St. Mary’s).”

The Lancers jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter before the Hillbillies began to make their move.

Pat Moore got Fredonia going with a 3-pointer with 4:11 left to start the Hillbillies on a 8-2 run that cut the Lancers’ lead to 11-8 with 3:05 left in the opening quarter. From there, it was a back-and-forth battle that left St. Mary’s up 20-17 heading into the second quarter.

“We’re not used to coming out fast, I know that,” Rath said. “But (Fredonia) came back, they came back real strong. They had their run and they’re too good of a team not to have an offensive run.”

An 13-2 run to open the second quarter, a run that was helped by six points by Dylan Meyer, aided the Hillbillies to a 30-22 lead with 4:33 left before the break. Meyer then added seven more points to lift the Hillbillies to their 11-point halftime lead.

“At halftime, Dylan Meyer had 19 of (Fredonia’s) 39 points,” Rath said. “And we wanted to come out at the beginning of the game and contain him. And he was getting open, he was making tough shots and he was doing his thing.”

Things didn’t come as easily to Meyer, or any of his teammates, in the second half, as the senior was held to just seven points, leaving him with a bitter-sweet game-high 26 points on the night.

“They made some great adjustments on (Meyer) in the second half,” Lauer said. “They went and just face-guarded him the entire time in the second half and their defenders did some great things on him. He didn’t get near the same looks he got in the first half and he kind of had to settle for his outside shot, and it wasn’t falling for him (Wednesday).”

Despite the loss, Lauer knows that his team will be able to learn from the loss as it prepares for the start of the Section 6 playoffs, which begin next week.

“They’re upset about the loss, but they’re ready to turn the page,” Lauer said. “They remember the preparation getting ready for each game, we’re watching film, but it’s just that idea that we’ve got to play our best ball or we’re going home. And they’re into that and they’re psyched up for that. So, I don’t see any let down. These guys are ready to play and we get our first playoff game at home. And these guys love playing at home.”

NOTES: Moore finished with 16 points while Cody Cunningham chipped in nine points and Nick Johnston eight points in the loss … Playing in their final regular-season home game for the Hillbillies were Meyer, Johnston, Cunningham, Eric Jabot and Cody Smith … Prior to the varsity game, the Fredonia jayvee team wrapped its season with a win over the St. Mary’s jayvees. The win capped off a perfect 18-0 season for Fredonia, which included wins over Jamestown, Greece Athena, Fairview, Pa., Bennett and Iroquois.