By Nate Thompson
FRUITPORT — Gavin Fisher said the Fruitport boys basketball team discovered something about itself over Christmas break.
A string of ultra-competitive practices over the holidays had the Trojans believing Fisher’s words, and they followed through with a stunning 77-33 upset victory over a strong Orchard View squad on Tuesday in a non-conference tilt.
Fisher, in his second season at the varsity level, caught fire early and never cooled down, connecting on five 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 34 points.
“Yeah, it’s always like that, once you get going, you can’t stop,” Fisher said. “And I was just going and going. I did it not just for me, but for my teammates, too. We really want to get Fruitport going in the right direction.”
Fisher outdualed Orchard View star Ke’Ontae Barnes, who had scored 49 and 40 points earlier in the season and led the Cardinals to a 3-1 start. He was held to just 12 points against a determined defensive effort by the Trojans. Fisher gave kudos to his teammate, senior Ethan Flores, who drew a majority of the defensive assignments against Barnes and kept him in check.
Barnes looked like he had another big night in store, scoring 11 of his team’s 13 points in the first quarter. But Fisher and the Trojans excelled with solid ball movement, finding the open man and attacking the rim, which negated the Cardinals’ full-court pressure.
Fisher had 14 points after one quarter, helping Fruitport jump out to a 24-13 advantage.
“A lot of times, OV’s best offense is their defense, forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets in transition,” said Fruitport head coach Steve Erny, whose squad improved to 2-2 on the season. “I told our kids, if we’re able to break their pressure, which we did a pretty good job at, we should be able to get good shots at the rim.”
The Trojans’ only rough stretch offensively came late in the second quarter, when they rushed a slew of long-range shots. But OV couldn’t claw back into the contest.
The Cardinals were in the bonus with 2:30 left in the half, but connected on just 4 of 11 shots from the free throw line in the second quarter, and trailed 36-22 at the break.
It only got worse for OV in the third.
A three-point play by OV forward Edmari Mitchell made the score 48-26 with 3:29 left in the quarter, but the Trojans closed with a 15-0 run to blow the contest open. The spurt included a deep triple at the top of the key by Fisher, giving the Trojans a 63-26 advantage.
“What I really liked about Gavin’s night is he let the game come to him,” Erny said. “There were only a couple times he tested to see how hot he really was, but for the most part, he didn’t force anything.”
Orchard View started the fourth quarter with five-straight misses from close range in the paint, and later saw Barnes miss his second dunk attempt on a fast break.
Fisher was the only Trojan in double figures, but Fruitport had five others scored six points or more. Senior Marcello Conklin contributed eight, while Logan Manciu, Parker Wood and Flores each had seven.
Mitchell was only other Cardinal to reach double figures in scoring, totaling 11.
Erny said he hopes the eye-opening win sparks his squad moving forward.
“We’ve been at the bottom looking up historically (in the O-K Black Conference), but we feel we’re up for the challenge this year,” he said. “That hasn’t happened at Fruitport since we’ve been in the Black. But we’re going to go at every team expecting to win.”