Fuqua Rolls In Opener

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

FARMVILLE – The Fuqua School basketball team got started off on the right foot last Friday with a 70-42 non-conference victory over Grove Avenue Christian School.

The Falcons were led by senior center LeVon Harper, who scored 31 points in the season-opening victory at Gilmer Gymnasium.

“Considering that it was our season-opener, and that many of our players are still trying to get into basketball shape, I'm pleased with how we played,” said FS head coach John Baldwin. “We got tired in spots, but that's to be expected at this time of year. Just two weeks ago, many of these guys were still playing football.”

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Fuqua led from tip to buzzer, but showed signs of fatigue heading into breaks. The Falcons built up a comfortable lead in the first half, and was up 36-23 at the break, before putting the game away with a 13-2 run to start the third quarter.

“I like how we got after things tonight,” said Baldwin. “That's what we're going to have to do if we're going to be successful this year. We won't be able to take time off.”

Fuqua extended its lead to 56-35 at the end of the third quarter, and cruised the rest of the way en route to the 28-point victory.

Harper garnered his 31 points on 15-22 shooting from the field. He also had 14 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals.

Sophomore guard Carter Cunningham scored 11 points, while senior guard Price Gantt scored ten points. Junior forward Charles Williams just missed out on a double-figure scoring night with nine points. All but two players that dressed out for the Falcons managed at least one score.

The Grove Avenue Royal Falcons were led in scoring by junior guard Shane Williams, who had 17 points, but he was limited to just two points after the half. Senior center David Dinnie scored eight of his ten points in the third and fourth quarters.

“We showed an intensity on defense,” said Baldwin. “We've been blessed with some good kids that will work as hard as you ask.”

The Falcons will need to work hard, and will need to be well-conditioned if they want to duplicate their 2009-10 run. Gone is the starting backcourt of Coulter Maxey, who graduated and Kyri Washington, who transferred to Liberty Christian Academy. The Falcons are also having to compensate for injured players Jai Jamerson and Michael Marquez, who are hoping to be ready to go in the coming weeks.

“They need to heal, but we're really working on our conditioning. In practice, we've been running a lot, but I like to run with a purpose, and not just dry run. We'll work on running with the ball or on drills, but they haven't complained.”

It goes without saying that how Harper goes, will determine how the Falcons go, but expect the guard/forward combinations of Gantt, Cunningham and Williams to have increased scoring roles this season. Still, the decline in actual numbers will force the Falcons to do some things differently this year.

“We're really stressing the need to crash the boards on defense,” said Baldwin. “We can't take a breath on defense. If we can limit our opponents to 10-12 offensive rebounds a game, we will put ourselves in a better position to win.”

Offensively, the Falcons will need to concentrate on ball movement, over a run-and-gun style.

“We'll have to change the way we play. We'd like to push the tempo against the majority of teams we play, but since we're not as deep, we'll have to concentrate on our efficiency. On offense, we'll have to make our opponents work, while we take our breaks there. We'll have to play smart basketball.”

Fuqua's Saturday contest at Cumberland was postponed, and the Falcons were scheduled to host Steward School on Tuesday night in a contest that will be an early test for the Falcons.

Fuqua will host Brunswick Academy on Friday night.