December 23, 2011
Quick starting Groton rolls past Purple Lions
DRYDEN — Getting an early advantage is always important when two rivals meet. It’s especially important if you are the visiting team in the match-up.
Groton Central boys were in that position as the visiting Indians squared off against Dryden High to renew an Interscholastic Athletic Conference North Division basketball rivalry Thursday. Groton connected on five 3-pointers during a 27-4 opening quarter run and rolled to a 74-45 victory to move into a first-place tie with Marathon in the North Small School Division standings with 5-1 league and overall records.
The Purple Lions fell to second place in the North Large School standings with their 3-3 league and overall mark.
“We came out and jumped them quickly,” Groton senior guard Keegan Donovan said after his game-high 29-point effort. “We had two goals. Get off to a quick start and slow down (Bryan) Norman. I think we did a pretty good job on both. Overall, it was a good win for us.”
The quick start was so good that Groton actually scored two points before the opening tip-off, which never took place. Several Purple Lions grabbed the rim at the start of warm-ups and the team was assessed a technical foul.
Donovan made both free throws and the Indians then got the opening possession. Taj McKnight capped that possession with a 3-pointer and Groton led 5-0 just 14 seconds into the game. Two McKnight free throws gave the visitors a 7-0 lead before James Seeley got the Purple Lions on the scoreboard with a driving lay-up.
Groton used an 8-0 run to build the advantage to 15-4. Michael Grieger opened and closed the run with 3-pointers.
Two free throws by Gage Ellis gave Dryden its final points of the quarter before Groton closed out the final 3:30 of the first quarter with a 12 -0 run for the 27-4 lead.
Bryan Chaffee netted the first four points in the run. Donovan scored the next five five points, including a trey, and Grieger finished the quarter with his third 3-pointer.
“IT WAS AN IMPRESSIVE first quarter,” Groton coach John Filzen said. “We had a game plan. It was one of those night where everyone who stepped on the floor stuck with the game plan, contributed, and did their part. I was very pleased with the way we started.
“We do have some things to work on yet,” he added. “Dryden came out in the second half and pressured us. We do need to execute a little better, but we did match them the rest of the way.”
From that point on, the game was fairly even. Groton increased the lead to 45-17 by halftime before holding a slight 29-28 scoring edge in the second half.
McKnight finished with 11 points in the game and Chaffee added 10 points to the Groton attack. In all, nine different Indians put their name in the scoring column by the end of the night.
Ellis finished with 15 points for Dryden. Bryant Stuttle had a solid outing with 12 points, all coming in the second half. Norman was held to four points by the Indians defense.
“That was Keegan’s best defensive game of his career,” Filzen said. “That’s the one thing I’m trying to instill in him. To be a good college player you need to be multifaceted.You need to play good defense. He has the tools offensively, no doubt, and tonight he took a huge step in becoming a good defensive player. It was great to see.”
Even with a big lead, it’s still all about timing when it comes to substituting players in a game.
“It was a tough juggling act to get everyone involved tonight,”Filzen stated. “The timing had to be right because I have great respect for Kim (Brown) and the Dryden team. A 20 point lead is not safe with them so you want to make sure you have the game won. wee did get nine guys involved by the early part of the second quarter. It’s then just a matter of getting 10, 11 and 12 into the game and having the game won.
Bryan Chaffee had a great game and Mike Grieger did a good job,” he continued. “The guys coming off the bench didn’t score a lot, but they did a nice job rebounding and defensively. Chris Graham, Mike Medina, Damian Young and Kyle Shaw did what they needed to do as role players.”
“IT ALL BOILS down to you can’t put yourself in that position in the first quarter,” Dryden coach Kim Brown said. “We were passive and Groton attacked. They got to the rim, they set good screens, they were aggressive and that wins games at the varsity level.
“I was happy that we came out and played better in the second half,’ he added. “We were more focused and it did make a little difference, but we still have a long way to go.”
In the junior varsity prelim, Dryden was a 65-40 winner over Groton. The Purple Lions were led by Bruno Bugliosi with 16 points and Alexander Abel-Ferretti 13. Zach Ossit topped Groton with 14 points, while Kyle Padalino netted 13.
Dryden will return to action Tuesday as the Purple Lions face Marathon in the first round of the Cortland Booster Club Holiday Classic at 5:30 p.m. That game will also count in the IAC standings. Groton will return to action Jan. 3, 2012 when the Indians host Union Springs.
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