Defense keys Mendon win at Fairport

By JOHN LIKANJE

FAIRPORT, N.Y. – Coming into Wednesday night’s matchup, the Pittsford Mendon boys’ basketball team led all Monroe County teams in scoring at 83 points per game. Four different Vikings average double figures for Bob Nally’s squad which has reached 90 or more points eight times this season.

Despite being held 17 points under their season average Wednesday night, Mendon (17-0/No. 3 NYSSWA Class A) remained undefeated with a 66-58 victory over Fairport (12-5).

“We prepped for their (Fairport) aggressiveness,” Nally explained after the win. “One of the things that we’ve done throughout the year is we’ve really been able to win the rebounding battle.”

The Vikings held the Fairport Red Raiders without a made field goal for the first five minutes and thirteen seconds of the fourth quarter.

Throughout the final period, Nally’s squad limited the Red Raiders to three made field goals, while forcing 13 missed shots and three turnovers in 25 possessions.

The Vikings went on a 12-2 run to start the fourth quarter and built a 57-42 lead, the largest of the game. Senior forward Daniel Cook converted his third three-point play of the night and knocked down a trio of free throws. Sophomore guard Jacob Shadders made a layup and a foul shot. Seniors Michael Harrington and Connor Krapf each finished a layup of their own. During the run, the Vikings held the Red Raiders to eight missed shots and two turnovers in 11 possessions.

Shadders sparked a 12-2 surge in the third quarter with a pair of three-pointers and a layup for a 40-32 edge. Harrington and Krapf both hit a layup as well. During the spurt, the Vikings forced the Red Raiders into three missed field goals and a trio of turnovers in seven possessions.

“I tried to stress at halftime to get up in the gaps, get a little higher on them (Fairport),” Nally explained. “I feel like they had made five threes in the second quarter alone. We really want to get up and pressure them on the perimeter a little and then trust our help defense in the paint.”

In the first quarter, the Vikings held the Red Raiders to nine points, seven missed field goals and four turnovers in 18 possessions.

“We have the potential to be really tough on defense as well,” Nally said. “We have Connor Krapf and Mike Harrington who are able to really play great on-ball defense. We have a great rim protector in Dan Cook, who I think had five or six blocks tonight.”

Shadders scored a game-high 21 points on four shots from beyond the arc, two layups, a pair of mid-range jumpers, and a free throw.

“I think my teammates really set me up well,” the sophomore guard explained. “We have all the weapons and everyone sets each other up on different nights. I think my teammates really helped me out tonight and got me going.”

“He showed poise,” Nally said about Shadders. “He carried us early when we were struggling.”

Cook netted 9 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter on a layup and seven foul shots. For the night, the senior forward made three layups, threw down a breakaway dunk, and went 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.

“There were a lot of fouls called and it was a really aggressive game,” Cook explained. “I figured if I could get my body in there, I can try and finish around the rim and I can get to the line and make my baskets.”

“We were hoping he’d get the ball on a couple of our timeouts down the stretch in the fourth quarter because he was the one who was consistently making free throws down the stretch,” Nally said about his senior forward.

Harrington had 13 points on four layups, a mid-range jumpshot and a three-pointer. Krapf scored 11 on two layups, a floater, a long-range, and a pair of free throws.

Charles Bennett (4) rounded out the scoring for the Vikings.

The Red Raiders attempted a late rally in the fourth quarter, going 12-of-12 from the free throw line. Senior Vanzell Johnson and junior Max Molisani each made four foul shots. Brett Heininger and Stefan Milinkovic went 2-of-2 from the charity stripe as well.

Johnson netted a team-high 19 points on three layups, a trio of mid-range jumpshots, a floater and went 5-of-6 from the foul line.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to contain Vanzell Johnson,” Nally explained. “He was able to get into the lane a lot and make a lot happen.”

Milinkovic scored 13 points on three shots from beyond the arc, a layup and went 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. Heininger had 11 on two mid-range jumpers, a layup, a three-pointer and a pair of free throws.

Jack Lindstrom (6), Molisani (5) and Andre Starks (4) rounded out the scoring for the Red Raiders.

“They’re a very good team and a very good program,” Nally said when praising the Red Raiders.

Pittsford Mendon will host Greece Athena Friday night at 7:15 PM.

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