Raider boys lose on last second shot

IMG_5719

ALEX BLAKE of Fryeburg Academy fires up a shot against Poland. The Raiders fell to the Knights on a last-second 3-pointer by CJ Martin at the buzzer. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — CJ Martin played the role of The Grinch Saturday night.

The senior Poland guard stunned the Raiders by connecting on a long-range 3-point shot at the buzzer as the Knights escaped Wadsworth Arena with a 47-44 victory.

Playing short-handed (two players had returned home for the holidays leaving FA to play just seven, thus preventing them to go with their uptempo style at both ends for a full game), the Raiders tried to run the clock down with 45.2 remaining and the score tied.

“When we got the ball back, I decided we would take the last shot. At that point, to have battled back so many times, it made sense to hold for one (shot) before our legs were completely gone,” FA Coach Sedge Saunders said.

Coach Saunders called a timeout with 21 seconds left to set the final play.

But, the Raiders were whistled for an offensive foul on a driving attempt by Alex Blake with 1.9 seconds left on the clock.

Poland fired a long pass to Martin, who was able to pull the trigger fast enough as FA’s Jaquan Causer attempted to block the shot. The jumper fell. The buzzer sounded. And, Martin, who netted 14 points, did a few celebratory jump steps down the court as he was surrounded by teammates.

“Unfortunately, after our next time-out with 21 seconds to go, we didn’t get the ball back to Gullikson, which was the plan. We were a little discombobulated, and here’s where I should have called time-out again. After reflecting on this, I know it was a big mistake on my part,” Coach Saunders said. “The other thing I would change, if I could, is not going man against Poland’s in-bounds play with 1.9 on the clock. We play zone and we’re comfortable with it, but you have to be able to account for each player with a last second play and by not going man we allowed Martin to get free enough for a good look at the hoop.”

Coach Saunders put the final outcome on his shoulders.

“I’m very disappointed in my game management down the stretch. These kids deserved to win that game and I feel like I let them down. Luckily, I have the break to go over last second and situational strategies,” he said.

He was really impressed by his club’s full fight effort to the very end.

“It was a great effort by the guys. We got a great contribution from Ben Southwick, who hadn’t played in a varsity game until Saturday. I was impressed with Ben’s poise and ability to handle the pressure of such an intense and close fought game,” Coach Saunders said. “Obviously, we got a great game from Ryan Gullikson. He really rose to the occasion. It was the first time I think I’ve actually seen him winded. He’s like the Energizer bunny. He can run for days. You could tell he was running on fumes at times, but he dug deep in the fourth and competed like a champion. Jaquan (Causer) and Alex (Blake)) were both nursing injuries so for them to play that many minutes under those conditions, says a lot about their heart. Jon Burk gave us his usually good all around game and Nick L’Heureux-Carland had also provided us with quality minutes.”

The loss was the Raiders’ first of the season after starting 4-0 and a seventh-place ranking in Class B West.

In a back-and-forth contest, Poland built a 15-9 first quarter lead as Tyler Michaud sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer, was fouled and made a foul shot.

Buzzer beaters would be a theme for the Knights (2-4). Poland scored the final points of each quarter — an Alan Young baseline drive to end the second, giving the Knights a 28-26 halftime lead, and Michaud draining a trey with 1.2 seconds left in the third, putting his team up 40-35.

FA sophomore Ryan Gullikson continued his sterling play, keeping the Raiders close in the second quarter by scoring 10 of his game-high 21 points. Gullikson torched the Poland in several ways — he came up with steals resulting in fastbreak hoops, showed his quick first step getting him into the lane for short jumpers, and displayed his shooting range, dropping a three-ball.

Gullikson canned a three-pointer to close the deficit to 30-29 to start the third quarter, but the Raiders were unable to get over the hump as Martin connected on a trey and mid-range jumper to make it 37-35, Poland.

Blake (12 points) tightened the contest with a 3-pointer from the left corner to open the fourth quarter. He dropped another one from about the same spot with 2:54 left in the game to tie it at 42-42.

Gullikson tipped away a pass and beat Poland defenders to the hoop to give the Raiders a 44-42 lead. But, the Knights tied it on a strong baseline drive by Young (5 points), setting the stage for a wild finish.

“They never could put us away. Poland was up nine before the half and our guys showing major fatigue, but we battled back to cut it to two at the half.  It was a battle of wills in the second half and I thought Poland looked more tired than us in the fourth quarter,” Coach Saunders said. “The pressure was on them and I thought we really were in control even though we never led by more than a few points. Even when we were down five, I knew the guys would battle back. It will be an exciting second half of the season.”

For the Raiders, Jonathan Burk chipped in 7 points and 10 rebounds, while Jaquan Causer had 4 points, 8 rebounds and two blocked shots.

Stat line: Both teams turned the ball over 20 times…Looking for another difference maker. Poland was 10-of-14 from the foul line while the Raiders were 6-of-11.

 

Please follow and like us: