Behind a balanced scoring effort from several upperclassmen starters, the FDR boys basketball team defeated visiting Walkill, 76-53, Feb. 4 in Hyde Park.
The Presidents snapped a two-game losing streak, and kept their Mid-Hudson Athletic League (MHAL) title hopes alive with the victory, their second against the Panthers this season.
“The energy on both ends of the floor was great tonight,” FDR head coach Kevin Hart told the Observer. “This [win] is a direct result of what happens when the kids play up to their potential. It’s a great win.”
Ishmael Chisolm led the way for the Presidents with a game-high 20 points. Chris Roach recorded a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Ruben Jimenez chipped in 16 points and four assists.
The trio, all juniors, impressed their head coach with their performance and ability to carry the team to a victory.
“Our upperclassmen stepped up; we challenged them tonight, and they came through,” Hart said.
Despite the large margin of victory by game’s end, FDR did not find its real rhythm until after the first quarter. Walkill jumped out to an early 8-5 lead, and led for most of the quarter until the Presidents engaged in a back-and-forth battle. When the buzzer sounded, the teams were tied at 19 apiece.
After the first quarter, Hart preached to his team to follow the fundamentals they knew and be more active defensively. His players responded, suffocating the Panthers with their zone defense and grabbing the game’s largest lead at that point, a 34-24 edge halfway through the second quarter. At halftime, FDR led 42-31.
One of the keys to success for FDR was its ability to contain Walkill’s center, Sean VanDuser. The 6’5’’ senior, who has been known to create matchup problems for opponents, was stymied by the Presidents’ defense, finishing with just 10 points.
“I thought we limited his [VanDuser’s] touches and that really helped on the defense end,” Hart said.
The second half belonged entirely to the home team. At the end of the third quarter, FDR led by nearly 30 points, 62-36.
With the win, the Presidents improved to 6-8 overall, but 3-1 in the MHAL. The team must now win its final two games in order to win the league championship.
FDR’s next game will be tonight, when it travels to New Paltz for a 5:30pm tipoff. The Presidents beat the Huguenots, 76-61, back on Jan. 15.
“We have two huge games coming up, but when we play with energy, we are pretty good,” Hart said. “We took care of tonight; now we got two more to go.”