Unfashionably late: Slow start hurts Fisher once again in loss to Ridgeview

COLFAX — At this point in the season, it would be hard to blame fans of Fisher boys basketball if their mentality is “Let’s just survive the first half and hope they can turn it on in the second.”

Once again, the Bunnies came trudging out of the gate, their feet stuck in the mud Friday night as Ridgeview opened up leads of 13-4 at the end of the first quarter and 26-14 at halftime.

But Fisher came out of the locker room looking like a new team in the third quarter, using hot shooting and points off turnovers to trim its deficit to 33-29 at the end of the period. Ridgeview, however, scored three straight buckets to open the fourth, keeping the Bunnies at bay in a 45-35 victory.

Getting out to slow starts has been the story of the season for this Fisher team, and it has been a trickle-down effect from last year’s group that also had a propensity to turn it on in the second half.

“We’ve been trying to figure out how to get them going. We’ve been switching up defenses to try and get them going and get them more aggressive in the first quarter,” Fisher coach Cody Diskin said. “But we’re struggling with getting going. We had a good third quarter and battled back, but we’ve got to put four quarters together.”

Also frustrating Diskin on Friday was the Bunnies’ lack of aggressiveness in attempting to penetrate the Mustangs’ 1-2-2 zone. All night, Fisher passed the ball around the perimeter and held it too long, not attacking Ridgeview off the dribble by getting into the open areas of the zone in the paint.

“We missed a lot of shots, but we didn’t attack the zone. We didn’t create enough shots, and that’s what it came down to,” Diskin said. “You’ve got to dribble with a purpose, and we knew going into (this season) we lost a lot of scoring from last year. We had to have some guys step up, and some of those guys are struggling to step up.

“Hopefully we get it figured out by (postseason) play where they know we have to attack the zone a little better.”

The Bunnies (6-11), who shot 5-for-21 from the field in the first half and finished 11-for-40 overall and 9-for-15 from the free throw line, trailed 22-9 midway through the second quarter, but two three-pointers and a floater from Tyler Martin (team-high 15 points) kept them alive.

Martin also spearheaded the third-quarter onslaught. Andrew Zook’s steal at midcourt and layup at the other end sparked the rally, and Martin knocked down a three. Dalton Burk followed Martin’s shot with a trey of his own on the next possession following a Ridgeview turnover to cut the deficit to 26-22 at the 5:15 mark.

Ridgeview (7-8) then failed to grab a defensive rebound on a missed Fisher shot, the ball bouncing out of a Mustang player’s hands, and Will Delaney converted a bucket off a lob on the out-of-bounds play. The bucket put Fisher down 28-26, and Martin’s two-point basket and a free throw later put the Bunnies down by four at the end of the quarter.

“Coach (Rodney) Kellar’s a great coach, so you’ve got to give credit to him,” Diskin said. “They’re obviously down this year, but they’ve got a huge 6-7 kid (Ryan Parker), and it’s helped them tremendously. But you’ve got to give it to Coach Kellar. He gets them ready to play. I’ve followed scores, and they’ve struggled a little bit like us, but they’re in most of the games.

“We tried putting a little more pressure on the ball so they couldn’t make those easy lob passes in. I thought for the most part we did a good job, but they were still able to make some easy passes to a 6-7 kid.

Parker finished with a game-high 23 points, posting up for easy buckets over the smaller Fisher defenders throughout the night.

“Defensively, they’ve got the big 6-7 kid, who’s nice for them,” Diskin said. “I thought he played really good around the basket. He got a lot of touches around the basket, and we couldn’t stop that. When he gets two or three of his own rebounds and out-rebounds us for putbacks, we’re not going to be able to stop them.”

Fisher was able to turn up the pressure, forcing 14 turnovers and netting 17 points off turnovers. The Bunnies mainly used man-to-man defense, picking up Mustang guards at half court, but their 1-3-1 zone, which worked wonders for them at times in the BSN Classic last week, was ineffective.

“We tried to surprise them a little bit with those traps and trying to get steals. We got some of those steals and easy transition points, but we didn’t get enough of those,” Diskin said. “With our traps, you kind of live by it (and) die by it. We’ve been successful at times, but sometimes it creates open shots. In the first half, when they had wide-open shots, that’s why. Trying to get that trap, they found the open guy, and that’s the price you pay. They were getting those shots, and we got out of (the zone).”

Contact Zack Carpenter at zcarpenter@rantoulpress.com and on Twitter @ZackCarpenter11.

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