Fenwick’s Jordan Rucker dribbles the ball between Alter’s Dominic Ruffolo (right) and Brady Uhl during Friday night’s game in Middletown. Alter won 56-38. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Prep basketball: Fenwick coach unhappy with effort in loss to Alter

MIDDLETOWN — Fenwick High School boys basketball coach Pat Kreke didn’t have much to say about Friday night’s loss to Alter.

His counterpart at the Greater Catholic Coed North Division rival school in Kettering had been preaching to the Knights all week about how difficult it is to play at Fenwick, but Kreke felt the Falcons made it easy for them this time.

Fenwick had a lead for less than a minute of the game, and Alter used a big run in the third quarter to break loose for a 56-38 win in the Knights’ regular-season finale.

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Fenwick (13-8, 4-6 GCLC) has one more game, Monday against Clinton-Massie for Senior Night, to get back on track before the Division II postseason.

“They wanted to win more,” Kreke said. “We didn’t rebound well. We couldn’t shoot at all. They outhustled us. They played harder than us. They wanted the game more than us.

“We’ve got a game on Monday to get ready for the tournament, so we just better get our heads together because if we play like we did tonight, with that same lack of energy and enthusiasm, we won’t win another game. We can play well, there’s no doubt about it, but you can’t come out and play like we did tonight and expect to win basketball games, not against good teams.”

Alter (13-9, 5-5) had lost at Fenwick each of the past two seasons and won a five-point game the year before that. Both teams came into Friday’s game playing well. The Falcons had won four of their last five with only a narrow loss to the top team in the league and the Knights remain unbeaten in February.

Fenwick’s C.J. Napier puts up a shot over Alter’s Connor Bazelak during Friday night’s game in Middletown. Alter won 56-38. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The visitors never trailed in the first half, leading by as many as eight points, but the Falcons drew within 21-18 going into halftime and ended up scoring the first two baskets to go ahead at the start of the third quarter.

The lead quickly changed hands three more times before the Knights went on a 14-2 run over the final five minutes of the period to shake free, and they kept it going with a 7-0 stretch at the beginning of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

“That’s a well-coached team, and to be honest, I stressed to the guys that we have not played well here in the past,” Alter coach Eric Coulter said. “It’s always a tough place to play, but once we got the lead, we were able to have a lineup on the floor to be able to hold the ball, drag out possessions.

“I didn’t want quick shots because they are capable of coming back. They’ve got a great player in C.J. Napier, so we’re fortunate to be playing this good of basketball this time of year and definitely to get a win like this at Fenwick.”

Alter’s Stephen Harker puts up a shot defended by Fenwick’s A.J. Braun during Friday night’s game in Middletown. Alter won 56-38. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Napier led the Falcons with 18 points, but Travis Dahm was the next best scorer with just five points.

“It wasn’t an ‘off’ day,” Kreke said. “I don’t care about how they shoot and all the X’s and O’s. Their effort wasn’t here tonight, and when you play like that, you’re going to get beat every time.”

Alter had two finish in double digits for scoring as Brady Uhl tallied 16 points and Connor Bazelak added 13. Stephen Harker chipped in nine points. Uhl and Bazelak had back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 9-0 run in the third period.

The Knights appeared fresh and full of energy throughout, thanks in large part to the steady rotation they use with two separate groups going in and out together and each unit featuring a mixture of scorers and defenders.

Coulter had emphasized rebounding, especially keeping the Falcons off the offensive glass, and that proved to be a key to success. Fenwick also only made it to the free-throw line for seven attempts.

Fenwick’s Jordan Rucker goes to the basket defended by Alter’s Conor Stolly (24) during Friday night’s game in Middletown. Alter won 56-38. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

“Our guys are playing really good basketball right now,” Coulter said. “Defensively in our last five games I think we’re holding teams under 40 points a game, and it’s just our effort. We’re hitting our stride, so hopefully it continues.”

The Knights will begin D-II sectional action next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against West Carrollton at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.

Alter 14-7-16-19—56

Fenwick 6-12-8-8—38

ALTER (13-9, 5-5 GCLC North): Dominic Ruffolo 0 3 3; Stephen Harker 4 1 9; Jack Smith 1 0 2; Brian Shane 1 0 2; Rich Kolb 1 0 2; Connor Bazelak 4 2 13; Derek Willits 1 0 2; Conor Stolly 1 2 5; Brady Uhl 6 3 16; Connor Meyer 1 0 2. Totals: 20-11-56

FENWICK (13-8, 4-6 GCLC North): Jared Morris 1 0 2; Sully Janeck 1 0 2; Jordan Rucker 0 1 1; Michael Boon 1 0 3; A.J. Braun 2 0 4; C.J. Napier 7 3 18; Travis Dahm 1 1 5; Craig Schuermann 1 0 3. Totals: 15-4-38

3-pointers: A 5 (Bazelak 3, Stolly, Uhl), F 4 (Schuermann, Dahm, Napier, Boon)

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