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Bucktail boys fall to Northumberland Christian

KEVIN RAUCH/For The Express Bucktail junior Dylan Cross looks to drive underneath past Northumberland Christian's Henry McElroy and Justin Ross (40) in the Warriors win over the Bucks last night.

It’s one of the most common descriptions in sports: a young team. Still, that’s perfectly fitting for the Bucks’ boys basketball team this year which is again led by coach Gene Bruno.

One senior, two juniors and eight freshmen will be taking to the court all season and will be getting little sympathy from their opponents, as was the case Thursday night in Farwell as Northumberland Christian won, 65-33.

Northumberland Christian’s Henry McElroy introduced himself early scoring 12 points in the first quarter where the Warriors more than doubled up Bucktail, 22-10, after the eight minutes.

Bucktail’s lone highlight came in the second quarter where freshman Braylon Fantaski hit two of his 3-point shots on back-to-back possessions where the buckets slowed down the Warriors momentum rather drastically.

Whereas the visitors had climbed to a 28-11 lead early in the second, Fantaski’s points cut the lead to 30-19 at the 4:08 mark of the second quarter. The Bucks would actually keep the game within a dozen for over two quarters of play until a 25-8 fourth quarter. This attack paced by the Warriors’ David King’s 11 points in the final quarter.

Bruno took the loss in stride, saying the goals are a little different in Farwell this season with not only a young team, but light in roster numbers as well.

“Here’s the deal this year, we’re going to try to teach them the system, teach them skills and then winning, in my mind winning doesn’t count right now,” said Bruno after the game. “In my mind I have a solid junior high team coming up, a team full of ninth graders. So we have to put our attention on that” he said speaking of looking into the future.

“What’s really hurting us is if we didn’t trap. I have five JV players that just had to play the whole game, five varsity players that have to play and when I sub I’m bringing in JV kids that just played 32 minutes,” Bruno continued.

Case in point was the third quarter of the Bucks’ JV game which saw Bucktail play with just four players as one sat out before returning for the fourth quarter.

“If I can’t trap, we’re so small, it’s really going to hurt us,” Bruno explained. “The other night I trapped in the first quarter and we were down, 18-14, after that we were outscored, 24-0, in the second quarter because we were spun out. We had just two offensive rebounds all night and end up in a mercy rule, 74-24.

“It’s important to me that the players learn the system and I keep pounding skills. Some of the freshman can shoot the ball. Two years ago, they couldn’t hold onto to it. Players like Braylon Fantaski, Brett Mason and Kyler Friese has bought in, their skills and shooting are starting to take off as a result” the coach finished up.”

Bruno add that when a team is this young you want to put them on the road and put them up against tough competition, foreshadowing the next couple of evenings for his team.

Northumberland Christian 65, Bucktail 33

NORTHUMBERLAND CHRISTIAN (65)

Josh King 1 2-2 4; Donnie Roger 0 0-0 0; David King 8 2-2 21; Sam Garvin 1 0-0 2; Luke Snyder 2 1-4 5; Henry McElroy 8 3-5 20; Alec Phillips 0 0-0 0; Justin Ross 5 0-1 13; Micah Moyer 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 8-14 64.

BUCKTAIL (33)

Cole Hillyer 0 0-0 0; Kayden Friese 2 0-0 4; Dylan Cross 4 1-2 9; William Steele 1 0-0 3; Kyler Friese 0 0-0 0; Brett Mason 1 1-2 4; Braylon Fantaski 4 0-0 11; Evan Hillyer 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 2-4 33.

N.C. 22 8 10 20 — 65

Bucktail 10 9 6 8 — 33

3-point goals: Bucktail 5 (Fantaski 3, Mason 1, Steele 1).

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