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Published: March 10, 2006 10:57 pm

Falls focused on Fairport

Defense will decide who moves on to Glens Falls

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Falls, NY.


The New York State Class AA Far West Regional (6:30 p.m. today, Buffalo State College Sports Arena) shouldn’t be short on great offensive play.

Both Niagara Falls, the 10th-ranked Class AA school in the state, and No. 5 Fairport have a key backcourt scorer — Johnny Flynn (27 points per game) and Corey McAdam (18 ppg), respectively.

Both have a big man inside with 6-foot-8 Tyrell Lynch (15 ppg) for the Falls and 6-7 Canisius College-bound Corey Magee (17 ppg) for the Red Raiders.

They even both have great role and complimentary players. The Wolverines have Rahshon Tabb, Kendall Davis and Anthony Marshall. Fairport counters with Kelly Condello, Kevin Downey and Owen Reilly.

But when it comes championship time, defense becomes the difference between winning and losing.

“We have to play great defense (to win),” Marshall said. “We have to rebound a ton on the defensive end. It comes down to having to play hard defense and rebounding.”

Defensively, Fairport played a box-and-one on Flynn in the last matchup, a 52-50 NFHS win in the Cataract Classic in early December, but this time Bazzani expects to see a little more man-to-man defense after watching the Red Raiders use stifling defensive pressure to beat Greece Athena in the Section V Class AAA-AA crossover game, 66-58.

“I saw a much better defensive team (Wednesday) than I did the last time,” the coach said. “The first time they reverted to a ‘gimmick defense’ — a box-and-one on Johnny (Flynn). I expect more man-to-man this game because they played it so well the other night.”

The Wolverines, who have played an effective zone for the majority of the season, employed a man-to-man defense a week ago in the second half of a blowout win over Jamestown in the Section VI Class AA finals. That secondary defense gives the athletic Wolverines more options on the defensive end of the court.

“Based on our performance against Jamestown, I was very encouraged with our man-to-man defense,” Bazzani said. “We have played a lot of zone this season — more so than ever before — so I’m glad we played our man defense so well.”

Fairport coach Scott Fitch knows the Red Raiders have a tall order in front of them, not only stopping arguably one the best players in Western New York history in Flynn, but also overcoming the freakish athleticism of the Wolverines.

“I’m always impressed with them. They are the defending state champions and we look at this as an opportunity,” he said. “I don’t think you can stop Flynn, but you try to slow him down. We have to be at our best to try to beat the most athletically-gifted team around.”