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High school basketball: Fairport pushes on to Glens Falls

Red Raiders defeat Sweet Home

James Johnson
Staff writer

(March 12, 2007) When Fairport's lead began to dwindle again on Sunday, Mark Bruce had two shots to fix things.

The Red Raiders were ahead by four points with 17.9 seconds remaining in their Class AA boys basketball state tournament quarterfinal when Bruce went to the free-throw line. He missed, but he did return.

Bruce made a pair of free throws with Fairport leading by two points with 9.7 seconds left that gave the Red Raiders a 57-53 win over Sweet Home at Blue Cross Arena.

Despite having Fairport's first berth in the state final four at stake, Bruce was not nervous. He swished both ends of his final one-and-one situation, and once again Red Raiders not named Kyle Downey came through for Fairport (21-4).

"I was so happy," Bruce said about his second chance. "That first shot felt good.

"If I went again, I felt I could get the stroke. Fitch gave me confidence."

Fitch is Fairport coach Scott Fitch, who used 10 players on his team's roster to get the Red Raiders into a semifinal matchup against Section II's Bishop Maginn (22-3) at 12:30 Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

While Downey, a junior guard, scored 25 points, reserves such as David Kozar and Sam Townsend played valuable minutes.

One reason was that guards Brian Gebhardt (wrist) and Kevin Borden (ankle/hand), both starters for Fairport, were unable to practice last week because of injuries.

Another reason is that Fitch instills confidence in reserves like guard Scott Deady.

"The kids who don't get as much publicity seem to be pushing our team to another level," Fitch said. "These kids have shown up in every tough situation."

The challenge facing the Red Raiders yesterday was a Sweet Home team that rebounded well, especially on offense.

"They are explosive," Downey said. "We didn't want them to get easy baskets."

The Red Raiders led on the scoreboard, 36-24, and in rebounds, 20-17, at halftime.

Fairport was ahead by 13 points, 50-37, after Borden sank a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter.

But Sweet Home (19-5) has had no double-digit losses in 50 games, according to Panthers coach Paul Schintzius.

The Panthers were bound to charge.

A 10-0 run that included 3-pointers by Eric Schnirel and Terrell Rankin (25 points) cut Fairport's lead to 50-47 with 2:42 remaining.

Downey briefly stopped the push with a field goal, but Schnirel made a floater to make the score 52-49.

Again Downey put Sweet Home in a deeper hole, 55-49, when he made a 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining. Rankin made a runner with 19.5 seconds left, however, to bring Sweet Home within 55-51.

Sweet Home fouled Bruce less than two seconds later, and the Fairport senior guard missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Rankin then made two free throws to cut Fairport's lead to 55-53 with 11 seconds remaining.

The Panthers fouled Bruce again but did not get the same result. 


Photos by Jen Rynda, Rochester D&C


Photos by Jen Rynda, Rochester D&C


Photos by Jen Rynda, Rochester D&C


Photos by Jen Rynda, Rochester D&C

Photos by Jen Rynda, Rochester D&C