By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Early foul trouble forced Patrick Muldowney’s Fairport girls’ basketball team to play out of character.
The Red Raiders took advantage of a second chance that halftime can provide.
Four different players contributed to a 14-0 run to start the third quarter, and Fairport went on to a 63-57 victory in Monroe County Division I action, Monday night.
“You can see we have talented offensive kids, but it’s our defense that’s gotten us here,” Muldowney said. “That was the conversation at halftime. You got to buy in on defense.”
Being able to switch from zone to man-to-man didn’t hurt either.
Faiport forced three turnovers faster than you can say Riley DeRue, Bella Pucci, Ella Meabon and Abigail Smith.
And the Red Raiders’ offense in turn produced points on seven consecutive possessions.
“I said to them ‘we’re a man defense team,'” Muldowney added. “We got to put the press on them and they got to know we’re there at all times. That was it.”
By the time Pucci converted a steal into a layup and-one, Fairport had turned a seven-point deficit into a lead it did not surrender at 33-30.
“It got their confidence up,” Muldowney said of the defensive adjustment. “Defense facilitates our offense.”
Trailing 30-23, Pucci opened the half with a pullup 3-pointer. Smith got to the free throw line where she converted twice. Meabon scored on a leak out, and Pucci made it 10 straight with the traditional 3-point play.
Meabon followed with two more from the stripe, and DeRue hit a runner along the left side of the lane.
Hilton’s Sydney Carpenter stopped the run with a triple of her own, but Fairport scored the next four.
“The kids communicated and rebounded a lot better,” Muldowney added.
Six players in all scored in the stanza with Megan Thurley and Rachel McCoy contributing as Fairport (6-1) won its fifth straight.
“The energy picks up when everyone scores,” Meabon noted. “It increases your overall play. Offense leads defense and then defense leads to offense.
McCoy’s jumper gave Fairport a 43-36 with less than two minutes to go in the third.
But Hilton did not go away.
Carpenter closed the third with one of her four treys in the game, and Maddie Manetta opened the fourth with a rebound and putback cutting the deficit to two at 43-41.
It was as close as the Lady Cadets would get.
A Mallory Heise three with 14.7 seconds remaining made it a one-possession game at 60-57.
“It’s tough to come here and win,” Muldowney commented. “They’re always ready. They’re tough kids. They know to play.”
Coming out of a timeout, Syd Carpenter gets baseline and finds Leah Thompson for the triple. Ella Clark follows with a runner in the lane to cut the deficit to 3. 3:34 to go @FCSDSports 51 @LadyCadetsHoops 48 pic.twitter.com/d1xZYlZO5h— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) February 23, 2021
Pucci led all scorers with 18. Meabon and Smith added 14 apiece. Thurley had nine. Ne’vaeh Buntley scored four.
Carpenter paced four Lady Cadets in double figures with 14 points. Leah Thompson had 13. Mallory Heise scored 11. Ella Clark contributed 10. Manetta finished with seven. Sarah Jorgensen chipped in two points.