MAYFIELD - The Fort Plain Hilltoppers used superb low-post defense and superior quickness on the fast break in racing past the Mayfield Panthers 54-32 in a WAC contest at Mayfield High School Wednesday.
Fort Plain's game plan coming in was to upset Mayfield's offensive rhythm by limiting the effectiveness of 6'2'' senior Luke VanNostrand.
"I thought Zach Florian and Ryan Potter did a great job guarding their big guy (VanNostrand)," said Fort Plain head coach Casey Russom. "If you take him out of the game they struggle a little bit. They did a good job of that."
Fort Plain’s Xavier Lanier backs down Mayfield’s Riley Yager (30) during Wednesday’s Western Athletic Conference North Division game at Mayfield High School. (The Leader-Herald/Shaun Anich)
Fort Plain limited VanNostrand to just one point and six rebounds, well below his season averages.
VanNostrand's counterpart in the low post, Florian, had much more success. Florian grabbed a game-high 10 boards while chipping in eight points.
The Hilltoppers displayed a balanced scoring attack Wednesday. While seven players registered at least five points, no one reached double-digits for Fort Plain.
The Panthers nailed two three-pointers in the first quarter to help them take a 10-7 lead, but Xavier Lanier found success for the Hilltoppers in the second. Lanier converted four layups and combined with Florian for 14 of Fort Plain's 16 second-quarter points. Foul trouble in the second half put the brakes on Lanier's scoring output.
After scoring eight points in the second quarter, Mayfield's struggles finding open shots grew progressively more noticeable. The Panthers mustered just six points in the third quarter as Aiden Van Loan did a little bit of everything to spur a Fort Plain run.
Van Loan, Fort Plain's point guard and leading scorer, hit for one of the Hilltoppers' three triples in the quarter. With Fort Plain up 35-24, Van Loan led a torrid fast break that culminated with a feed to John Stever under the basket for two. Early in the fourth, Van Loan registered his fifth steal of the game before once again finding Stever who laid it up and in while drawing the foul. The bucket gave Fort Plain a 17-point lead and sent Russom dancing down the sideline with excitement.
"Am I a good dancer, or no," joked Russom. "He [Van Loan] got a couple nice steals, he took care of the ball, and he controlled the pace of the game which is big for them."
The battle on the boards was close, with the Hilltoppers edging the Panthers 34-32. Mayfield turned the ball over 14 times while Fort Plain gave it away 13 times.
Lanier and Jon Calbet led Fort Plain with nine points apiece, while Riley Yager turned in a solid game for the Panthers. The junior tied Joe Ringer for the team-lead with seven points while adding a team-high seven rebounds.
The Canajoharie Cougars are up next for both Mayfield and Fort Plain. Mayfield, who lost to the Cougars 51-40 earlier in the season, will face them tomorrow in Canajoharie at 7:30 p.m. Fort Plain will look to avenge a 64-61 loss to the Cougars when they travel to Canajoharie on Wednesday.
Fort Plain 54, Mayfield 32
Fort Plain7 16 14 17 - 54
Mayfield10 8 6 8 - 32
Calbet 3-2-9, Lanier 4-1-9, Florian 4-0-8, Briggs 3-0-7, Empie 3-0-7, Van Loan 3-0-7, Stever 2-1-5, Orlogio 1-0-2. Totals 23-4-54.
Ringer 3-0-7, Yager 3-1-7, Gallup 2-0-5, J. VanNostrand 2-0-4, Lanza 1-0-3, Briggs 0-2-2, Javarone 1-0-2, Sweeney 0-1-1, L. VanNostrand 0-1-1. Totals 12-5-32.
3 point-goals: Fort Plain 4 (Briggs, Calbet, Van Loan, Empie); Mayfield 3 (Ringer, Gallup, Lanza)