The Fountian Hills High School boys basketball team improved to 5-2 with a 54-25 win over Northland Prep Academy on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
Three Falcons scored in double digits, and sophomore Ahren Lloyd led with 16 points and junior Michael Fitzherbert added another 15.
This was the second time in three years that senior Keaton Ort missed a game, and his first time not playing a home game. Ort took a hard fall face-first during the last home game, and he was kept out as a precaution. Head coach Jeff Bonner preached a message of next man up mentality, and asked his players to play their roles instead of trying to do Ort’s job.
“You can’t replace a player like Keaton Ort,” Bonner said. “He was player of the year in our region last year for a reason. It wasn’t something that we can replace, all we can do is pick up where we can.”
Junior Lucas Grieco started the scoring with a three-point shot, and he finished with 12 points. The Falcons found their defensive footing in the second quarter and started to take a commanding lead. They led by 10 at halftime and were up 40-16 after three quarters.
The Falcons were guilty of several turnovers, especially early on, but Bonner thinks the players were trying to show what they could do with Ort off the floor. They settled down and went on the hunt for turnovers after halftime, with Fitzherbert grabbing back-to-back steals that led to points in transition in the third quarter.
“Halftime discussion was let the offense fluctuate more,” Fitzherbert said. “Don’t just go off one pass. Pass it around, get more options. On the defensive side, get in the gaps more. Don’t let them get into their offense as much.”
Senior Tanner Barnhart got the starting nod with Ort out, and Ort plans to be back in time for the home game against Scottsdale Christian Academy at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13. The Falcons travel to ALA – Ironwood on Friday, Dec. 8, and Bonner and his staff scouted the ALA – Ironwood vs. Scottsdale Christian Academy game on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
The Falcons will practice over winter break after playing Scottsdale Christian, and they will compete in the Coyote Basketball Invitational at Arizona Lutheran Academy from Thursday, Dec. 28, to Saturday, Dec. 30.
“We want to win the game, and we want to make sure that we’re playing our brand of basketball going into that tournament,” Bonner said about Scottsdale Christian. “That’ll be a great indicator of how much work we have to do.”
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