ROCHESTER – Fredonia was seconds away from continuing its underdog run, but a controversial call to end regulation against Newark, coupled with the Reds hitting a shot at the buzzer to force overtime with momentum on their side led to a 66-58 loss Saturday in a Class B boys basketball Far West Regional at Gates Chili.
“We have the bend but don’t break mentality,” Fredonia coach Nick Bertrando said. “We came in here at halftime and committed to Fredonia basketball of playing tough, gritty, and that’s our style. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.
"For awhile it looked bleak because we struggled to get open looks, but for our guys to battle back it says a lot about our guys.”
The game-tying three-pointer Newark hit against Fredonia. This came following an inadvertent whistle which gave Newark possession again. pic.twitter.com/kq63TNVC2H— BuffaloNewsPrepTalk (@bufnewspreptalk) March 12, 2023
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Fredonia (19-4) won the Section VI title by defeating No. 1 seeds in the Class B2 final and Class B crossover as the No. 10 seed, and it seemed as if its magical postseason streak would live on.
Junior Make Hahn hit a 3-pointer to give the Hillbillies (19-8) a 54-51 lead with 4.2 seconds remaining, and then controversy struck. When Newark overthrew the inbounds pass from in front of its bench, the ball was saved by a Reds player, but recovered by a Fredonia player.
A referee inadvertently blew his whistle to indicate Newark was out of bounds. After the officials huddled, possession went to Newark with 3.1 seconds left. Senior Brayden Steve (25 points) hit the tying shot at the buzzer.
“It was an inadvertent whistle,” Bertrando said. “The bottom line is we preach every single day we don’t point fingers, we point thumbs. It comes back to us. The game isn’t defined by one play. That kid stepped up and hit a big shot, but there were possessions we didn’t get stops and gave up easy looks.
"For it to come down to that, I’m not going to put it on anybody. It’s the game of basketball and is a game of runs. There were many things that led up to that point, and we just had to play the hand that we’re dealt.”
The Hillbillies trailed 38-30 entering the fourth quarter and hit six 3-pointers to help outscore the Reds, 24-16, and force overtime.
In overtime, Newark took advantage, outscoring Fredonia 12-4, to end the Hillbillies' six-game winning streak.
Senior Ethan Fry also scored his 1,000th point during the game. Fry finished with 18 points on 7 of 21 shooting, 3 of 12 from three, along with four rebounds and four assists.
“It’s very bittersweet right now,” Fry said. “I’m happy to get that career milestone because not many people get that in high school basketball, but it came at a cost of our season. I wish I could’ve hit more shots.”