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High school basketball: Fairport defense stops Athena

Athena stifled in state qualifier

James Johnson
Staff writer

(March 8, 2007) Fairport guard Mark Bruce usually ends up on the trail of an opposing team's leading scorer during games.

He is very good in that role. Maybe Fairport does not win back-to-back Section V Class AAA boys basketball titles without Bruce's work.

Bruce showed the other half of his game Wednesday night, as he scored 18 points while Fairport shutdown Greece Athena, 60-35, in the section's Class AA boys basketball state tournament qualifier game at Blue Cross Arena.

"He usually does that in pick-up games," said Fairport junior guard Kyle Downey, who led all scorers with 19 points. "Today, he got in to a flow."

Bruce made 7 of 9 shots, most on penetrations to the basket. A senior listed at 6-feet-1 inches and 185 pounds, Bruce also had three assists and four steals.

"I've always had the confidence to do that but we've had so much talent," Bruce said. "Tonight, I felt like I could get it done, try to get what I can get.

"Knowing that we have shooters on the outside, I didn't have any fear."

While Fairport's offense reminded no one of the NBA's high-scoring Dallas Mavericks, it was close to a frightful night for Athena (18-5).

Rob Zappia and Brian Benson were Athena's leading scorers with six points each. Junior guard Kourtney Goff had more turnovers (6) than points (5). Section V's two-time defending Class AA champions were 17 of 49 shooting from the floor (30.6).

"We've had tough times on offense in a lot of games," Athena coach Jim Johnson said. "They had more answers offensively, than we did. We never seemed to get in sync.

"They play very good contain defense and rotate over very well. Individually, Bruce is an excellent defender. He's physical, and moves his feet well."

The Red Raiders took control of the game in the second quarter and never relinquished it after their own slow start.

Ahead 9-8, Fairport scored the first 11 points of the second quarter. A nine-point advantage at halftime was 14 early in the third quarter after pull-up jump shot and 3-pointer from Downey.

Athena also lost to Fairport in the post-championship playoff game last season.

For the last of the 3,120 fans who watched the War Memorial tripleheader, the first half was dullsville 39 points combined.

But the Red Raiders regrouped, and advance to the state quarterfinal and face Section VI champion Sweet Home, 2:30 Sunday on the same court, at Blue Cross Arena.

"We showed that defense will keep you in games," Downey said. "It also showed we have a lot of other threats besides me. They decide how far we go. I can't be a one-man team."

Fairport seemed to hit a mini-groove after Bruce drove for a basket early in the second quarter.

Downey followed that field goal with two free throws and Kevin Borden, Fairport's hero in the Section V Class AAA final last Saturday, made a 3-pointer.

Borden added another 3-pointer to help Fairport build a nine-point lead, 24-15, by halftime. 


Photos by Karin von Voightlander, Rochester D&C



Photos by Karin von Voightlander, Rochester D&C



Photos by Karin von Voightlander, Rochester D&C


Photos by Karin von Voightlander, Rochester D&C