The Field Falcons hosted the Coventry Comets in a game that many thought wouldn’t be competitive. I mean, let’s be honest, the Comets are on another level right now. With players like Dustin Burkhart (13 pts, 4 rbs, 4 stls), Conner Wess (14 pts, 8 rbs, 2 asts), and DuVale Patterson (6 pts, 3 rbs, 6 asts) roaming around the perimeter you know you’re set there. On top of that the Comets have an incredible big man in Bryce Hargrove (23 pts, 11 rbs, 1 blk) dominating the paint on a game to game basis. All of this is a recipe for disaster for opposing teams. That opponent on Tuesday was the Field Falcons. Coach Tyler Boyle and the Falcons were tasked with trying to defend all of these weapons, in addition to trying to score on them.
“They have a really good team, with a lot of really good players.” Coach Boyle said after the game, “Our plan was to try and take (Conner) Wess out of the game offensively and living with the outcome.”
The Falcons plan worked in the first half, although Coventry got out to a hot start. On the opening possession Dustin Burkhart stole the ball and took it down the court, scoring on a monster dunk with two Falcon defenders draped all over him. There was surprisingly no foul call on the play. I say that because the officials seemed to be jumpy with the whistle. Not saying that both teams didn’t play sloppy basketball at times, but there were 10 total fouls, five on each team, called in the first quarter alone. Thankfully that calmed down during the rest of the game, but it did hurt the overall product in the first.
Field failed to score on their next possession and Coventry took it back down the court. They set up in their half court offense and gave Hargrove the ball in the post. It should be noted that Falcon Center Garrett Moore played as good a defensive game against Hargrove all night, but it just wasn’t enough. Hargrove is on another level at this point in his high school basketball career. Hargrove backed him down and pump faked Moore into a foul. Hargrove finished nicely and got the and-one. He failed to make the free throw, but they still lead 4-0. Senior Guard Luke Petelin finally responded for the Falcons at the 5:36 mark with a deep bank three pointer from the top of the arc to make it 4-3 Coventry. Because of the foul calls and sloppy play by Coventry, Field was able to stay in the game early, but Coventry still lead 13-11 after one.
DuVale Patterson started the second quarter with a three pointer to give his team the 16-11 lead, but Field responded quickly with a three from the right corner by Colman Begue (7 pts, 4 rbs) making the score 16-14 Coventry. Later on in the second Trevon Ridgell (11 pts, 5 rbs, 4 asts) took a missed Coventry shot and called his own number on the fast break and scores on a good looking layup to take the 19-16 lead with 5:00 to go in the half. The Falcons rode that lead all the way to halftime where they lead 27-23. Coventry fans were in disbelief of how poorly their team was playing.
Coventry struggled with turnovers and settled for outside shots often. Those perimeter players mentioned earlier are great weapons to have, but in order to get good open looks you have to attack and use pick-and-rolls once in a while. They seemed to be content swinging the ball around the three point line and taking whatever shot got open the fastest instead of forcing the defense to move. Field took advantage of the Comets lazy play and forced a lot of tough shots.
“They played us in a junk defense.” Coach Wess said after the game “We needed to hit shots to get them out of that. Burkhart made a few shots, DuVale Patterson hit a few threes that really helped us. Once we got them to go man to man we knew we could pretty much take over.” The “junk” defense Coach Wess talked about was the 2-3 zone the Falcons played, they had to players guarding the top of the perimeter, one players in the paint and two on the corners. They also used a lot of double teams and traps. It worked well in the first half when the shots weren’t falling, but when the Comets were hitting perimeter shots with ease in the second half it became a lot harder to only have two players on the perimeter.
The Falcons moved the ball well in the half court offense early on in the second half. They worked the ball inside to Garrett Moore often and he would kick it out to his snipers, specifically Guard Curtis Cutlip (14 pts, 2 asts) who was on fire in the second half. He and Moore were the main reasons the Falcons stayed in the game as long as they did.
The Comets were able to ride Hargrove late in the third and for most of the fourth, winning 69-52.
One last moment I enjoyed from the game was something that happened in the third quarter. Two players, a Falcon player and a Comet player, got into a small skirmish while fighting for a loose ball. The situation would normally warrant double ejections and the game would move on, but the situation would be very tense. The head referee took another course of action. Instead of doing what ever other ref would do throughout all three levels, from pros, to college, to other high school refs, he waited a few seconds and brought the two players face to face. He took a moment to speak to the two kids and had them shake hands before moving on with the game, and waved off the play. Many parents and die hard fans were unimpressed and booed, but as a neutral observer I enjoyed the teaching moment. Instead of punishing the kids the ref taught them that it’s ok to show passion, but at the end of the day you have to shake hands and move on.