F-F snaps five-game losing skid


Recorder Sports Staff

FONDA -- Immensely disappointed with his team's first-half effort Friday night against Mechanicville, Fonda-Fultonville boys basketball coach Eric Wilson kept his halftime speech short and to the point.

"We came out, and I just felt like we weren't playing hard. We weren't playing like I was used to seeing them in practice, we weren't playing like I was used to seeing them play in the games," Wilson said. "We didn't have that look. I don't want to say we were intimated, but we didn't have that aggressive, attack look on our face. I told them at halftime, 'I really don't know what to say ... If we're gonna have a chance in this game, we've got to get some toughness. We've got to start playing.'"

Wilson didn't let his players simmer in the locker room, either. With five minutes, 42 seconds left in the intermission, the Braves trotted back onto the court for warm-ups.

They got the message.

Down nine at the break, Fonda-Fultonville cut into the Red Raiders' lead by getting the better of an absurd shooting display in the third quarter, then surged in the final eight minutes to take control and snap a five-game losing streak with an emotional 64-54 triumph.

"Coach wasn't too happy at halftime, I'm not going to lie," said Braves (4-7, 2-6 Colonial Council) guard Ryan Derby, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds. "We didn't come out very well, and the second half, we talked as a team and we knew what we had to do to get the job done."

Getting the job done mostly involved Derby and backcourt mate Russ Williams turning the court into their own back-and-forth game of "Pop-A-Shot" with the Red Raiders. Down 28-19 at halftime, Derby and Williams combined to hit five of the Braves' six 3-pointers in the third quarter -- point guard Lucas Calkins added the other -- in a wild eight-minute stretch that saw the two teams hit a grand total of 10 3-pointers that accounted for 30 of the 33 points scored in the stanza.

"It seemed like they made 15 (3-pointers)," said Mechanicville coach Rian Richardson. "They shot the ball well. They made some big shots, kids stepped up that we weren't really counting on to make shots."

When Wilson realized that 10 of the 11 field goals made during the quarter came from beyond the arc, his reaction was simple.

"That is unbelievable," he said.

Fonda-Fultonville junior forward Will Turner, who scored a game-high 25 points to go along with seven rebounds, missed a chunk of the Wild West shootout while in the locker room being treated for a cut over his right eye. By the time he returned to the court with 2:14 to play in the third, patched up with a few bandages, he could barely believe what had happened.

"I guess when I went out, things lit up. I didn't even know what was going on," Turner said.

"When I got back in, I knew I had to attack," he added.

The end result of the topsy-turvy third quarter was the Braves facing a 41-39 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. That quickly disappeared when Williams drilled his fourth 3-pointer of the half to give the Braves their first lead of the night, 44-43, with 6:38 to play.

"I was shooting, because I know that's my area where I can help the team out," Williams said. "We just kind of made a decision as a team. After losing as many games as we lost, by all means we had to win this game."

The teams traded the lead for the next few minutes, until Turner muscled his way to the basket with 3:40 left to put F-F up 49-47. A minute later, Derby swiped an errant pass and was fouled by Mechanicville's Adam Dunn while going up for a layup. Dunn was then called for a technical foul after the play, and after a timeout, Derby stepped to the free throw line alone for four straight shots.

The first one danced along the rim for several seconds before dropping in. The next three came with considerably less drama.

"It definitely felt good to make those," Derby said. "I kept looking at the scoreboard, thinking 'If I make this, what'll happen?' It was definitely nerve-wracking, but they went in."

Twelve seconds later, Calkins hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to push the lead to 55-47, and the Braves went 14-of-20 from the foul line in the final quarter to lock up the win.

And after five straight disheartening losses, Wilson had finally seen the team that the Braves need to be moving forward down the stretch of the season.

"I'd like to see us bottle that second half," he said. "Use that second half a little more."