Albany Academy basketball coach Brian Fruscio likes the defensive effort he’s been getting from his Cadets.
A strong performance at that end Friday night enabled them to knock off Collegiate of Manhattan, the state’s No. 1-ranked Class B team, 52-43.
“They grind it out. They compete on every possession,” Fruscio said. “This group just scraps and puts pressure on you.”
Independent Albany Academy pinned down Nazareth of Brooklyn in a 48-44 win, and contained Notre Dame of Utica in a 68-54 victory before putting the defensive clamps on a Collegiate team that came in at 6-0, and has five straight Federation Tournament of Champions Class B titles on its resume.
“We talk about being a 32-minute team, and we’re getting there. I thought our conditioning was a big part of us winning the game. The guys didn’t let down,” said Fruscio. “Earlier in the year, we were a 22-minute team.”
The Cadets (6-2) outscored Collegiate in the fourth quarter, 15-8, giving up just two field goals while forcing seven turnovers during that eight-minute stretch.
“Defense has been our key. Limiting teams,” said Fruscio, whose Cadets forced 19 turnovers in all. “We’ve got a shot blocker [6-foot-8 Marcus Jackson], and guys who take charges. We try to keep people in front of us and block out. We’re like Michigan State in that we’re team based, and we’re aggressive on every possession.”
Though Albany Academy managed only one basket in the fourth quarter, it made good on 13 of 15 free throws. Two of them by Jack Morrow gave the Cadets a 43-41 lead and began an 11-0 game-deciding run.
“We drove the ball and hit our free throws,” said Fruscio. “We didn’t open any doors.”
Albany Academy was 4-for-14 on free throws in an early-season 58-56 loss to Long Island Lutheran. In Friday’s game, the Cadets finished 19-for-23 from the line.
“We addressed our free-throw situation. We altered our practice schedule to allow more time for the guys to work on it, and it’s been paying off,” said Fruscio.
Morrow went 6-for-6 from the line and led Academy Friday with 16 points. Morrow and fellow seniors John Moutopoulos and Darrien White are the only players who saw significant minutes last season, and White has played in only two games because of a concussion and then a shoulder injury.
Juniors Matt Knezovic and Jackson are among the other lettermen, while sophomores Ray Jerome, Andrew Dufort and Rory Flaherty are among the newcomers.
“We’ve got a neat group,” said Fruscio. “They come ready to practice, and in games there’s a tenaciousness side to them.”
Argyle senior guard Joey Lufkin notched a school-record 54 points in a 96-47 Adirondack League win over Whitehall, leading a slew of high-scoring individual basketball efforts Friday night.
Lufkin’s performance included eight three-point baskets on 12 attempts, and topped the 52 points Mike Trzaskos delivered for Argyle in 1998 against Salem. Lufkin scored 28 of the Scots’ 35 first-quarter points, and played less than three quarters.
Lufkin’s previous high was 40 points during his sophomore season against Fort Edward, and he had a 37-point game this season against Warrensburg and went for 35 against both Hoosick Falls and North Warren. Section II’s scoring leader (33.6 ppg) had lead the Scots (8-0) to a No. 1 state Class D ranking. . . .
Cairo-Durham senior guard Brendon Halligan tied a school record with eight three-pointers in Friday’s 75-41 Patroon Conference win over Greenville. Halligan finished with a career-best 35 points. Cairo-Durham’s Eric Vaughn nailed eight threes in 1998 against Catskill. . . .
Juniors Tad Jones of Hartford (42) and Jacob Galusha of Salem (37) combined for 79 points in the Tanagers’ 72-69 Adirondack League win. The combined 79 points matched the output of Conrad Zampier of Columbia (43) and Grant Massaroni of Mohonasen (36) in the Blue Devils’ 80-73 double-overtime win last month. . . .
Berne-Knox-Westerlo senior guard Liz Harvey equaled her own school record with 35 points in Friday’s 63-36 Western Athletic Conference win against Middleburgh. Harvey fired in 35 points earlier this season against Mekeel Christian Academy.
Daniel Owens of Christian Brothers Academy sank six three-point baskets and was perfect on six free throws in a 24-point performance Friday as the Brothers logged an 80-41 Big 10 win over Bishop Maginn. The 24 points were a season-high for the six-foot tall junior guard. ...
Shenendehowa freshman guard Kevin Huerter hit a three-pointer for his only basket in Friday’s 61-58 Suburban Council win over Bethlehem. Huerter has 12 field goals this season, all of them three-pointers. ...
Both Mekeel Christian School basketball teams limited Sharon Springs to 16 points in Western Athletic Conference wins Friday. The boys won, 71-16, behind Caleb Stewart’s 18 points. The girls prevailed, 62-16, behind Macie Holmes’ 21.
Some of the nation’s premier high school basketball teams will gather Jan. 17-21 for the Spaulding Hoopball Classic at Springfield College.
Twenty six games are scheduled, and several will be televised, in the event sponsored in large part by the Spaulding Group and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
This year’s elite boys’ matchups include Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) vs. Simeon High School (Chicago, Ill.), Lone Peak High School (Highland, Utah) vs. Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, Calif.), New Hampton School (New Hampton, N.H.) vs. Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.), and Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) vs. Findlay College Prep (Henderson, Nev.). Legendary programs from St. Benedict Prep (Newark, N.J.), DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) and St. Anthony’s (Jersey City, N.J.) are also on the card.
Several of ESPN’s Top 100 will see action, including Simeon’s Jabari Parker, who recently committed to Duke, and the No. 1 girl’s player, Tennessee recruit Mercedes Russell from Springfield High School (Oregon).
More information can be obtained on the event website www.thehoophallclassic.com.