Raiders win sixth straight, beat Lakers 58-40

OVER TOO LATE — Lake Region center Adam Falk tries to block a shot by Fryeburg Academy guard Bright Amoako during Tuesday's game at Nutting Gym. Amoako scored and the Raiders won their sixth straight game. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Sedge Saunders didn’t panic when his Fryeburg Academy boys’ basketball team started the season 0-6.

He knew it would take some time for his Raiders to come together and be a formidable club.

With one game left in the regular season, the Raiders appear headed for the Class B West playoffs.

Playoffs?

Yes, indeed. The Raiders are one of the conference’s hottest teams, winners of six straight following Tuesday’s 58-40 victory over Lake Region behind Walker Mallory’s 20 points and a dominant effort by point guard Bright Amoako, who scored 14 points and was a match-up nightmare for the Lakers.

At 9-8, the Raiders are presently ranked 10th in Class B West. If the playoffs started today, the Raiders would travel to Cumberland for a prelim game against the seventh-seeded Rangers (9-8) — a team the Raiders recently recorded a big home win against.

But, one game remains. Fryeburg travels to Poland on Friday for a 7 p.m. game against the Knights. Poland is 4-12 and will look to be a spoiler. FA is 8 tourney points back of Maranacook, so it appears unlikely the Raiders can leapfrog the Black Bears. FA is 5 points up on Leavitt, so a loss at Poland and a Hornet win could reverse seedings. If the Raiders slide and the top seedings hold, FA could be looking at a trip to Wells.

Either way, Coach Saunders simply likes to hear playoff talk — something that appeared hardly likely early in the season.

“The team has playing well down the stretch due to a couple of things: with seven new guys on the team this year, some of whom are new to the school and some new to the country, we knew it would take a while to gel, but that has happened and I think everyone understands what is expected and how we want to approach the game of basketball,” Coach Saunders said. “Another reason we’re playing better is our defense. We have established an identity with our defense, and I think the kids take a lot of pride in trying to disrupt and shut down their opponents. Thirdly, we have become more consistent in our effort to control tempo. We play better in the open court and our transition game is much better now than it was.”

That approach was on full display Tuesday night as a swarming FA defense forced 25 Laker turnovers.

The first quarter was tight. Amoako’s athleticism was too much for LR guards to handle as the Raider senior scored seven of his club’s 13 points.

“Bright was Bright. Is there a more underrated high school player in Maine?” Lake Region Coach J.P. Yorkey said. “Glad that he’s finally a senior.”

The Lakers (4-13) enjoyed a brief lead when Sam Smith drained a 3-pointer from the right corner. But, FA closed out the quarter with a 8-2 run.

Fryeburg picked up its defensive intensity (forcing 8 turnovers), which in turn, cranked up the offense. A Mallory pull-up jumper midway through the quarter gave the Raiders a 10-point lead.

“We wanted to speed up the game against Lake Region — wanted to have shorter possessions. In order to do so, you’ve got to get stops and our defense has made it possible to get out and go,” Coach Saunders said. “We have a good mix of kids — you have to have players that our compatible and we have that right now. Bright is a good facilitator and Tyler (Saunderss) and Walker do a good job of filling the lanes and knocking down shots. Our big guys run the floor well and Bright does a great job of finding them. We’ve got to be a little better and finding the trailer and flowing into our half court offense, but overall we’re moving the ball well and just going out and competing.”

Down 29-17 at the half, the Lakers opened the second half with a little bounce in their step as Cody Gibbons powered to the hoop for a 3-point play, Mike Mageles knocked down a 3-pointer and Mike Triglione sank a foul shot to pull LR within 29-24.

FA counterpunched as Amoako scored 5 points on drives to the hoop and Mallory nailed a 3-pointer to push the Raider lead back to 13.

Freshman Jack Lesure canned a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 8 points, which would be as close as the Lakers would get. FA rookie Ryan Gullikson matched Lesure’s trey giving Raider fans a chance to respond to their counterparts with a chant, “He’s a freshman!”

Mallory closed out the third with two jumpers, showing his quickness to create a shot and pull the trigger in traffic.

“I do give Fryeburg a lot of credit.  I am particularly impressed with Mallory this season.  He is much improved and has expanded his game significantly. He is now as good off the dribble as he is off the catch, and he seems a lot quicker this season.  He hurt us in transition, as well as in the half court,” Coach Yorkey said.  “I also give a lot of credit to Coach Saunders.  They are playing very well right now. With nine wins and counting, including wins over Greely and Wells, outside of York and Falmouth, they could beat anyone.”

Coach Yorkey had hoped for a strong finish by his club, but were out classed Tuesday.

“Just too many simple, unforced errors on our part. Some good defense at times and some hot shooting by Mike Mageles (11 points, three 3-pointers) kept us in the game, despite the turnovers,” he said. “We did have our moments. Disappointing that we didn’t take care of the ball better.”

Fryeburg closed the game with a 12-9 run with Mallory scoring 5 points.

While the victory was satisfying, Coach Saunders says the Raiders face a lot of work ahead if they are to be successful in the playoffs.

“We can play better and we’ll need to if we our going to continue our season.  You have to be disciplined to play a fast-paced game and right now our defensive technique is not as good as it should be. We also have been careless with the ball at times. If a team is going to make the post season and make some noise, you’ve go to do two things really well: play defense and take care of the ball. We will focus on improving in these areas,” Coach Saunders said.

RAIDERS 58

Bright Amoako 6-2-14, Jonathan Burk 1-1-3, Jaquan Causer 3-0-6, Ryan Gullikson 2-2-7, Walker Mallory 9-1-20, Winston Richards 0-1-1, Tyler Saunders 3-0-7. Turnovers: 12. FT 7-15.

LAKERS 40

Cody Gibbons 2-5-9, Nick Hall 0-1-1, Jack Lesure 1-0-3, Mark MacDougall 0-1-1, Mike Mageles 4-0-11, Sam Smith 2-0-5, Mike Triglione 2-4-8, Mark Williams 1-0-2. Turnovers: 25. FT 11-22.

 

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