Raider boys’ basketball team starting to pass the eye test

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — Sedge Saunders really likes his basketball team.

He likes the way players can put a poor performance in the review mirror, stay upbeat and play better the next time out.

He appreciates the way his guys pass the ball, looking for the best option, not necessarily the first scoring chance.

And, he likes the progress the Raiders are making down the home stretch of the team’s first year in Class A South.

Coming off a disappointing 67-32 showing against Greely, the Raiders rebounded with sound victories over Freeport (63-45) and at Biddeford (64-47) on Monday. Fryeburg Academy improved to 5-8.

“Biddeford is a solid team who is similar to us in terms of experience and some tough losses,” Coach Saunders said. “I thought our guys did a great job taking away their strengths (attacking the rim and kicking it out for the three) and taking advantage of the size advantage we had, which may have been the first time we’ve had this luxury.”

Up 14-12 and 29-24 at the half, Fryeburg gained separation in the second half, closing the game with an 18-10 run.

The Raiders placed three players in double figures — Nicholis L’Heureux-Carland leading the way with a game-high 17 points, while Oscar Herras chipped in 14, including four 3-pointers, and Oscar Saunders netted 12, also with four treys.

“Early in the game we got hurt on penetration and the offensive glass, but the guys did a great job of adjusting and taking that away, especially in the second half,” Coach Saunders said. “Our ball movement was tremendous. We had a two-to-one assist to turnover ratio this game, which is almost unheard of in high school basketball. We typically have four to five guys on the court who are confident with the ball and have better than average court vision. Couple that with the ability to hit the three ball and you have a team that is very difficult to guard.”

The Raiders scored 23 points out of the center position (six from Jace McKenney), which was the key to freeing up shooters, who got some real clean looks at the hoop from downtown.

“It was the best inside/out action I’ve seen from us all year,” Coach Saunders said.

Other scorers were Cody Gullikson scoring 7 points, Ben Darling 6 and Joe LeBrun 2.

Another element that impressed Saunders was that every time Biddeford made a run, the Raiders answered it with a couple of big shots and a run of their own.

“When Biddeford tried to get back into it with full court pressure, our guys broke it with pinpoint passing and got easy baskets,” the coach said. “We’re playing very well right now and you can see the confidence building in each person and the team collectively. This team combines an unselfish approach with the skills to execute, which is why they’re so much fun to watch. The ball movement at times is just a thing of beauty.”

Another key to the Raider surge has been contributions from all players in the lineup. Against Freeport, Ben Darling connected for six 3-pointers. Meanwhile, others making a difference include Cody Gullikson, who has had “two really good all around games,” and Tucker Buzzell and Scott Parker “continue to give us great defense and are developing on the offensive end, as well,” Coach Saunders noted.

“Both Oscars are providing us with some solid guard play by knocking down shots and directing the offense, so we have a lot of different weapons,” he added. “We’re playing our best ball right now so it should be a fun and exciting last two weeks of the regular season.”

Up next: The Raiders host Falmouth this Friday at 7 p.m. and Wells on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.


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