SILVER CREEK - One of Fredonia's team goals this season was to go undefeated in CCAA West I boys high school basketball.
On Friday night at Silver Creek, the Hillbillies completed that goal with a thrilling 67-60 come-from-behind win over the Black Knights.
"They don't quit," Fredonia head coach Greg Lauer said. "They wanted this game. They wanted to come in the game and blow (Silver Creek) out. It didn't happen, but they wanted to walk away with a win. These guys are battle-tested, they've been together for three and four years, and they know how to win basketball games and they did it (Friday)."
OBSERVER?Photo by Gib Snyder III
Fredonia’s Cam Voss (35) looks to pass while being guarded by Silver Creek’s Brennan White during Friday’s CCAA?West I boys high school basketball game.
Down 56-47 heading into the fourth quarter, Fredonia (14-3, 10-0) got 11 points from senior standout Dylan Meyer and seven more from fellow senior, Nick Johnston, as the Hillbillies outscored the Black Knights, 20-4 to pull off the win.
"I think as far as us not scoring, I think Greg (Lauer) did a nice job of going to zone (defense)," Silver Creek head coach Rob Genco said. "He needed to switch it up. We had the momentum and being at home, the crowd was into it, and our guys were turning the corner and were ready to put (the game) away. And he did a nice job of saying, 'hey, let's throw these guys a curveball this time down.' We recognized it right away, we just couldn't get the ball inside."
Silver Creek entered the final stanza on a 16-4 run of its own, but after Fredonia made its adjustment on defense, the easy looks inside to Billy Brooks vanished, and with them, so to did the Black Knights' lead.
"Our zone defense just confused (Silver Creek) a little bit," Lauer said of what the difference was for his team in the fourth quarter. "Our guys bought into where they were supposed to be and we did a much better job of denying Billy Brooks shots. He lit us up all game in those first three quarters, and I knew we had to try something else to mix it up. That was big for us."
The shots did fall for Meyer - who finished with a game-high 32 ponts - and Johnston however, as the duo hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Hillbillies up for good.
"Dylan hit free throws down the stretch," Lauer noted. "But he wasn't shooting well in the first half, and he knew it. But he didn't let that stop him. He kept going to the basket hard and still let that (3-pointer) fly late in the game and he knocked it down. He just stuck with it. He's one of the best players in the league, and he showed it (Friday). His senior leadership really stepped up."
The game was a back-and-forth battle in the first half, with Fredonia holding 13-12 lead after the first quarter, and a 37-35 lead at halftime, thanks in large part to Eric Jabot, who came off the bench in the second quarter to score eight points, including a basket as time expired before the break.
"I've talked about him before," Lauer said of Jabot. "He came in, hit two threes, hit a runner to end the (second) quarter ... To have eight points like that, it was a huge lift for us, because other guys weren't hitting shots. When you can bring in a guy like that, and he can just knock (shots) down for you, that kept us in the game."
The third quarter belonged to the Black Knights, as they weathered a 6-2 run by the Hillbillies, before finishing the quarter on a 16-4 run of their own.
"With (Fredonia), they have a second gear," Genco said. "And we're not quite there yet. We were locked up and tied with them at their place at halftime. So I told the guys that this is right where we were the first game against them. And in the second half, they came out and blew our doors off. I said we're going to have to weather the storm and (Fredonia) came out and missed a 3-pointer to start the half and we were able to get a bucket to get going and stay up."
Brennan White led the way for Silver Creek in the third, as he knocked down three 3-pointers to help the Black Knights to a 56-47 lead.
"Brennan can shoot," Genco said. "It's just a matter of getting him his shots, and (Friday) was one of those nights that I was just proud of the way we were moving the ball and got the guy that was open the ball."
White finished with 19 points, while Brooks added 22 points, a game-high 16 rebounds and seven blocks.
"When he puts that kind of effort out, (he can do that) every night," Genco said of Brooks. "The nights he gets frustrated, are the only nights that he's not getting a double-double or triple-double. He had 22 points, probably double-digit rebouds, he had some huge blocks, and you could see that it got our guys going."
Up next for Fredonia is a matchup against St. Mary's of Lancaster, on Wednesday, while Silver Creek will have a quick turnaround, as it will play Randolph later this afternoon.
"We have to build on it, or we're going to go home after one (game in the playoffs)," Genco said. "I told those guys, 'don't leave disappointed in the way you played (Friday)."
NOTES: Johnston had 13 points and 10 assists in the win ... Cam Voss added 10 points, 10 rebounds and four steals for the Hillbillies ... Kaine Kettle had 10 points and four steals for the Black Knights.