In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the FDR girls basketball team needed a spark to snap them out of a funk.
Enter starting point guard Ashley Merritt.
Merritt scored a game-high 26 points, including 17 in the first quarter, in the Presidents’ game with visiting New Paltz Feb. 7, Senior Night. That lead the Presidents to a 60-52 victory. The win brought FDR’s record to 7-8 overall.
“I thought in the first half, our intensity was very good,” head coach Cliff Sauer told the Observer after the game. “Our dribble penetration was good, and we pushed the ball in transition. Those were things we hadn’t been doing well recently, and we did much better with them tonight.”
Sauer spoke highly of Merritt’s performance as well. In addition to her point total, the junior also had seven assists.
“She did a great job; she didn’t settle, and was able to get to the rim with her moves,” Sauer said. “You can’t ask too much more [of her].”
It was a special night for FDR, both in terms of the victory and the fact that it marked the final home game for its two senior players, Patricia Nesbitt and Carly Crawford. Before the game, the team honored both players with flowers and speeches written by teammates.
Nesbitt and Crawford started the game, along with Merritt, Madison Lee, and Darien Demelis.
From the opening tipoff, the Presidents dominated the game, forcing four New Paltz turnovers en route to an early 11-3 lead. By the end of the first quarter, the home team jumped out to a 25-11 advantage.
The second quarter saw FDR step up its defensive pressure even more, as it outscored the Huguenots 19-7 in the quarter to take a 44-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
New Paltz came out in the second half with a new intensity, jumping out to a 7-3 run to start the third quarter and even an 11-0 run late in the fourth quarter. But the early deficit was too much to overcome for the Huguenots, and FDR held on for the victory.
Madison Lee chipped in 10 points for FDR, and Darien Demelis had eight. For New Paltz, Juna Keehn scored 20 points, and freshman Bridget Barry had 11.
Moving forward, Sauer said, his team needs to continue to focus on its defense to finish strong the rest of the season.
“We have to continue to make stops and take pride in our defense,” Sauer said. “We just have to focus.”