FULTON — The Fulton varsity girls basketball team got out to a quick start Tuesday, opening up an early lead and never looking back during a 50-37 win over Whitesboro.
Fulton coach Derek Lyons said he was “happy” with his team’s execution of their game plan.
“I thought they played a little bit of zone, so we talked about trying to get the ball moving fast around the outside,” he said. “We were hoping that we could hit some shots early.”
The Red Raiders, led by senior Claire Broderick, indeed hit some shots early. A three from Broderick gave Fulton a 5-1 lead in the opening minute, and they never looked back. Five points from Broderick, as well as baskets from Maddie Baum and Natalie Frost, paced Fulton to an 11-5 lead after the first quarter.
“Claire’s a really, really, really good shooter,” Lyons said. “She seems to come out at the beginning of games and hit shots, which is great.”
Lyons added that his team was focused defensively on stopping Whitesboro senior Cecilia Lapertosa, who entered Tuesday’s contest averaging 17.2 points per game.
“We knew they had a really, really good basketball player,” Lyons said. “We were going to throw many bodies at her.”
After being held scoreless in the first, Lapertosa came alive with six points in the second quarter. With 5:43 left in the half, the Warriors’ senior cut the Fulton lead to 13-12, but the Red Raiders had a response.
Another three from Broderick pushed Fulton’s lead to four, with baskets from Frost and junior Kayla McCraith adding to the cushion. With 0.1 left, a three-point shot from Mackenzie Miner sent the Red Raiders into the half with a 27-16 lead.
Lyons mentioned he was pleased with his team’s first-half play in the defensive end.
“We wanted to defend with high pressure, and we did,” he said. “We did what we wanted to do defensively in the first half.”
Entering the second half, Lyons said he wanted his team to “win the first four minutes.”
“If we let them make a run, now we’re in a dog fight,” Lyons said. “We wanted to make sure we took that lead from maybe 11 to 16 (or) 17.”
The Red Raiders quickly extended the lead past what Lyons had hoped for, opening the third quarter with an 11-1 run. Led by another pair of threes from Broderick, Fulton entered the fourth quarter with a 44-22 lead.
Whitesboro came out strong in the fourth, but the 22-point deficit proved too much to overcome. Lapertosa led the Warriors with seven points in the frame, cutting the lead to as low as 14, but the visitors were unable to get any closer.
“Their record doesn’t give them justice,” Lyons said. “They come out and they play hard. (Lapertosa) is a really, really good player.”
Baskets from Frost, Miner, and Baum rounded out the scoring for Fulton, who finished what they started with a 50-37 win.
Broderick led all scorers, with 21 points for Fulton. The senior hit five three-point shots in the contest. Miner was second in scoring for the Red Raiders, with seven points, followed by the trio of Frost, Baum, and McCraith, who each recorded six.
“We’d like to get the ball inside a little bit more against the zone, it’s that whole adage, ‘You live and die by the three,’” Lyons said. “This game, how it worked out, we had to hit some shots and we did.”
Lyons also had praise for several of his players in the victory.
“Defensively, you’ve got to bring up the three that guarded (Lapertosa),” he said. “Maddie Baum, Carleigh Patterson, and Natalie Frost, they all guarded her really tough.”
Lyons also credited Miner, who he said “made a nice couple plays when we need a basket,” and McCraith, who “rebounded the ball great.”
Fulton (3-1) travels to Auburn Friday.
“Auburn’s a very good team in the SCAC this year,” Lyons said. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s when it comes to offense and defense. We’ve got to make sure we can execute when we need to.”