FULTON — The Fulton varsity boys basketball team just didn’t give up in its 76-73 overtime loss to Auburn Friday.
All the odds were against the Red Raiders after the first quarter, down by 11 points. Auburn’s Shareef Edwards had 10 points in the opening frame.
But it was a well-balanced scoring effort that pushed the Red Raiders to a 33-32 lead at the half, followed by second-half battle that eventually led to overtime. Down by five points with 32.3 seconds left in regulation, Tanner Emmons — who came off the bench — nailed a 3-pointer with 18.1 left, followed by a layup from Gavin Doty with four seconds left to tie the game.
Fulton trailed by one point in overtime, but couldn’t hit the game-tying free throw. The buzzer-beating 3-point shot went wide, giving Auburn the victory.
“(That was) a great, great high school basketball game. … If you look back, we’ve had a lot of games with (Auburn) like this,” Fulton coach Sean Broderick said. “Overtime games; close, hard fought games. I’m so proud of our guys.”
Auburn got off to a quick 10-3 start before Broderick used his team’s first timeout of the half. The Red Raiders had a tough time stopping Edwards and DeSean Strachan in the opening frame, who scored seven points in the quarter.
But a combination of Sam Cotton, Doty and Damien Piper pushed Fulton to a 23-point second quarter. Emmons launched a 3-pointer with 5.1 left in the half to give the Red Raiders a one-point advantage.
Prior to Auburn, Fulton had led by double-digits after the first quarter in every game. Broderick added he was happy with how his team “reacted.”
“It was really a different situation for us. … That (point difference) could have been two or three points at the end of the first, but it was 11. I knew things just hadn’t gone our way,” he said. “(It’s) just a testament to our guys just to battle back to go ahead at halftime. … I’m not surprised about the battle. I’ve been around these guys and this team for a month or more, and I just see it every day. It’s what I expect from the 12 that I line up every day.”
Dylan Diefenbacher and Doty got things started again in the third quarter with back-to-back layups.
A late foul followed by an ensuing technical foul from Aiden Trude allowed four free throws for Auburn, giving the Maroons a small lead after the team made three of the four.
Auburn’s Jack Tumber made a 3-pointer with 2.6 left in the third to give the Maroons a 54-50 lead.
Edwards and Strachan continued their runs in the fourth quarter to give Auburn six- and seven-point leads, while Fulton slowly chipped away. Cotton put the Red Raiders within four after making both free throws after being fouled.
Two fouls from Doty put Strachan on the charity stripe with 32.3 left in regulation. He went one-for-three before Emmons and Doty tied the game.
“Tonight was literally ‘next man up.’ We have a couple guys banged up, a couple guys in foul trouble. We got guys coming off the bench like Tanner Emmons, who made a huge 3-pointer when we were down six,” Broderick said. “We ran the play for him. That’s the kind of confidence we have in him.”
Piper and Doty both fouled out in the overtime frame, with Auburn capitalizing from the free-throw line. Edwards — who finished the game with 28 points — and Strachan combined for three layups in the Maroons’ 10-point overtime.
“We just made a little bit of a switch on how we guarded Shareef,” Broderick said. “It did neutralize him a bit, but he had a great game.”
Trevor Hendrickson’s last-second three-point shot went just wide en route to the three-point Auburn victory.
Doty led Fulton with 21 points, followed by Cotton’s 15. Rounding out the scoring were Piper (13), Diefenbacher (10), Emmons (6), Hendrickson (6) and Trude (2).
“That locker room was silent. Certainly some tears no doubt,” Broderick said. “I know how much it means to them. Just so proud of these guys. Wish the outcome was different. I’m just so pleased with the effort that my guys gave the whole game.”
SATURDAY: Fulton 53, Weedsport 37
WEEDSPORT — The Red Raiders bounced back with a 53-37 win at Weedsport Saturday.
Fulton was down by three points at halftime, but limited the Warriors to just 12 points in the second half, while putting up 31 points for the game.
Weedsport entered the game undefeated and was state-ranked for small schools.
“It was a quick bounce back game on the road against a very, very good and physical team. Even more proud how they played in the second half after they dealt with a lot of adversity in the first half,” Broderick said. “The defense was really, really good and led us to get some opportunities on the offensive end that we did not have in the fist half.”
Doty recorded 17 points for Fulton while Cotton tacked on 14.
“Gavin and Sam have been so good all year,” Broderick said. “We expect so much of them and they just deliver night after night.”
Rounding out the scoring were Hendrickson (9), Piper (6), Trude (4) and Diefenbacher (3).
Fulton (4-1) hits the court again on Tuesday at Jamesville-DeWitt.