Behind the second half energy of Kai Burridge and Lorenzo Lauria, The Forman school pulls away from NYMA in a 55-48 final.
LITCHFIELD: Not much was going right for the Forman Lions boys’ basketball team as the second half of their game against the New York Military Academy got underway on Wednesday afternoon in Litchfield.
The Knights had scored the first eight points of the half and the Lions looked tired after six possessions and six turnovers.
Forman coach John Strawson took a rare time out to talk to his team but instead of the what some might have expected to be a yelling sixty seconds, he showed how well he knew his team and how to get them going.
“I always know how well we can play when we’re not playing well,” Strawson said. “I always think I can get them to a better spot. Sometimes it’s just telling them good hustle or sometimes it might be telling them that they (the refs) missed that call and you’ll get them next time. They just needed some kind of confidence boost and they play hard.”
From that point on, it was like a light switch went on. The positive, upbeat approach motivated these kids who clearly would run through a wall for their coaches and the 13-0 run that followed was a testament to that fact.
Dontae Thomas (team high 14) broke the Knights press for the first bucket which was followed strong move to the basket by Lorenzo Lauria (9 points) who made one of two from the line.
Thomas found an open Ethan Kramer (11 points) for a three pointer before Harrison Day (8 points) was relentless of the offensive glass which resulted in back to back buckets.
The run was capped by another trey, this time by Kai Burridge who had sparked his team with a heavy dose of offensive and defensive energy as the second half got rolling.
“Kai always brings the energy,” Strawson said. “He sometimes needs a pick me up and when he got that key block in the second half, I knew that he’d have a great game.”
A 32-24 deficit turned to a 37-32 lead which continued to grow after the visitors finally cracked the scoreboard again with under nine left in the game.
Thomas made sure they lead would continue to expand with a long three of his own before Laurie and Burridge added a pair of buckets in the run while day added a pair of free throws.
In the first half, the Lions looked like a team that had played a bunch of games down the stretch and against an athletic and quick team like the Knights, it led to an unusual occurrence for the Lions.
“For the first time this season, we were being beat down the court,” Strawson said. “That can’t happen, we pride ourselves in conditioning and when that started happening, I called them out at halftime and they promised me they’d fix it and it took them three or four minutes in the second half but they did.”
Passes in the first half that worked versus previous opponents weren’t going to work against a team that could get up and down the court with Forman and had quick hands that were looking for steal opportunities.
Solid play from Burridge in the first half helped the home team get moving and when his head coach saw he was catching fire, he knew good things were ahead.
“Like any shooter,” Strawson said. “When he see’s the first one go down, he’s going to have a great game. He plays at such a high intensity that it lifts everyone else up.”
Towards the end of the first half (Forman plays two, 16-minute half’s, no quarters) when the Knights had started to create some separation from the home team, it was Kramer who connected on consecutive three pointers to bring his team within two at 24-22.
Thomas would blow by a Knights defender just before the half to send both teams to the break tied at 24.
The run that the Lions put on that sealed the game stated with a hustle play by Lauria who dove on the floor for a loose ball as Strawson called for time out to assure his team would keep possession.
From there, a 14-4 run ensued and while NYMA got to within seven at several points late, they could get no closer and the Lions improve to 17-1 in what has been a special season with more to come.
The sparkplug who got it going summed it up.
“We picked it up, we played like a team,” Burridge said. “We passed the ball better and stayed together. When we do that, we’re hard to beat.”
Forman 55, NYMA 48
NYMA 24 24 48
Forman 24 31 55
Forman (55): Ben Rushford 0-1-1, Dontae Thomas 6-0-14, Lorenzo Lauria 4-1-9, Kai Burridge 4-2-12, Harrison Day 3-2-8, Ethan Kramer 4-0-11. Totals: 21-6-55
Three pointers: Forman: Thomas, 2, Burridge, 2, Kramer 3.
Record: Forman 17-1