Photos and Story by Ben Kaufmann
FAIRFAX – BFA-Fairfax played crushing defense on Thursday night and led wire-to-wire in handing Stowe its second defeat of the season, walking away with a 52-40 win over the Raiders.
Bullet (4-3) coach Dave Demar said he’d emphasized defense in recent days after his team opened the season with four straight games of scoring 70+ points but conceding an average of 63.75 PPG in that span – an average reduced significantly by a 33-point output from Richford on opening night.
Against one of the better teams in Division III, Demar’s boys took the message to heart.
“Our defense was insane today, I was really proud of the guys,” Demar said. “We started off the season with a run where we were putting up a ton of points. However, the other teams were putting up a ton of points as well. So the last seven practices or so over a week and a half we’ve been stressing defense and rebounding.”
Trying to come back in the fourth quarter, Stowe (4-2) was held almost exclusively to shots from distance and didn’t hit a three until a minute remained and the game was well out of hand.
At the front of that defensive pack was Owen Demar, who was tasked with devoting all his energy to slowing Stowe point-guard Max McKenna. McKenna finished with nine points and just three field goals. Cam Meunier and Kolton Gillian, who each finished with 14 points, were most effective in making life miserable for Stowe’s offense. Carl Bruso finished with double-digit points (10) as usual, but he, too, played his best on Thursday without the ball in his hand.
“Everyone I put out there just buckled down defensively,” Demar said. “We knew we had to play good, hard D to stop this team.”
Even Fairfax’s offense looked like that of a team accustomed to grinding out its points. That’s not to say the Bullets struggled offensively, the hosts simply made the extra pass, used shot fakes and muscled through the lane against an athletic Stowe team.
“I think the kids are coming around,” said Demar. “We played scrappy tonight which I’m very excited about. If we play physical and play well together at the varsity level we’re going to win a lot of games.”
BFA led just 11-8 after the first quarter but started the second quarter with authority. Gillian scored the first two baskets of the second and collected a steal and an offensive rebound in between them. Bruso took a charge to earn the possession in which Gillian put the Bullets up 17-8. Meunier and Gillian kicked off a 9-2 run to end the second quarter which was capped by a Bruso three at the buzzer to put Fairfax up 28-17 at halftime.
The 38-31 deficit Stowe faced at the end of the third quarter was the closest the Raiders would come the rest of the way. Though any few of the multitude of threes Stowe attempted in the fourth quarter would have made the final minutes interesting, the only one to fall simply cut the Bullet lead to 49-38 with 60-seconds to play.
Isaac Decker added five points for BFA and Weston Black finished with four. Demar and Nick Myers each scored two and Riley Greene added a point for the Bullets. Fairfax returns to action on Wednesday with a home game against Williamstown (0-6).