Hot start fuels Shady Side Academy boys in Section 3-3A win over Apollo-Ridge

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Friday, January 29, 2021 | 9:30 PM


When Section 3-3A opponents Shady Side Academy and Apollo-Ridge took the floor Friday, one team was bound to come away with its first loss of the season.

Behind 12-point performances from senior Rian Fitzgerald and freshman Peter Kramer, the Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0) pulled away in the first quarter and never looked back as they earned a 56-45 victory over the Vikings (3-1, 2-1).

“I was pleased because we haven’t played a lot of close games, and this was a senior-laden Apollo-Ridge team that knows how to win,” Shady Side Academy coach David Vadnais said. “We are still learning, so I was so proud of our guys today for figuring it out. We didn’t play perfectly, but we found a way to win and I think that’s important.”

The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter as six players scored a total of 14 points. They did it with fast-paced play and took advantage of sloppy play by the Vikings, converting it into offense.

Senior forward Klay Fitzroy, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier this week, scored the only five points in the first quarter for the Vikings as the Bulldogs built a 14-5 lead.

“We need to play quickly. We aren’t great in the half-court, and we’ve got kids that can run and we have some depth,” Vadnais said. “So we want to start fast and put teams on their heels, and we can take advantage of our depth throughout the game.”

At one point in the second quarter, the Bulldogs built their lead to 12 points and seemed to be in control of the game. But behind senior guard Jake Fello, who scored 10 of his 22 points in the second quarter, the Vikings slowly ate away at the lead.

With 1 minute, 10 secons left in the half Fello hit a deep 3-pointer from the left wing that cut the lead to six. Then, with less than 10 seconds left, he penetrated Shady Side’s defense and found his way to the hoop for a layup, cutting the lead to four.

“We started rebounding better there in the second quarter, and we started hitting some shots,” Apollo-Ridge coach Greg Fox said. “We started getting some open shots, and were able to penetrate and had that nice run.”

During the second quarter, the Vikings also switched to a zone defense that threw the Bulldogs off their rhythm. It led to a better presence in the paint and allowed the Vikings to create more turnovers as they inched back into the game.

It stumped the Bulldogs for most of the second and third quarters, and by the end of the third, Apollo-Ridge trailed only 35-31.

Slowly but surely, though, the Bulldogs started to pull away as they slowed their offense and tried to attack the zone methodically.

“Turnovers and quick shots really hurt us in that first half and really let them back in,” Vadnais said. “We were real careless with the ball as the half went on, and we were taking quick threes. We’re not a good shooting team. We can’t make one pass then shoot it. So I knew if we were patient with their zone we could get inside touches and then a kick-out pass for a three.”

The Bulldogs extended their margin in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Vikings, 19-14.

“We had a hard time stopping them one-on-one, and, offensively, we got off to a slow start out there, too, and that combination is just not good,” Fox said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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