Late in Bellport's 61-52 victory last night over Deer Park, Connor Fedge finally relaxed.
With 30 seconds remaining, the 6-2 senior hit a pair of free throws, extending his team's lead to six and effectively icing the League IV boys basketball win for the visiting Clippers (5-1). For a change, Fedge could shoot without multiple hands in his face.
"Those were the easy points of the game,'' he said.
Deer Park (3-4) focused on trying to contain Fedge. Often it didn't work, because he had a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds. But sometimes it did work, at least partially.
With two minutes remaining and the score tied at 52, Deer Park clogged the middle to try to prevent the easy basket. Antoine Rountree slipped behind the defense with a backdoor cut and hit an easy layup, putting Bellport up 54-52.
Bellport forced a turnover at the other end, Fedge drove up the middle and again was met by a flock of Falcons. He whipped the ball quickly to his left and Armand Correa (12 points) laid it in to make it 56-52.
"We play team ball very well,'' Fedge said. "Once you play team ball, they can't focus on one person. If they're going to focus, it's fine, we have guys who can score the ball. That's how you break that.''
Deer Park took a timeout, but again Bellport forced a turnover. Fedge ended up with the ball at the top of the arc and was fouled. He hit both shots. On the next possession, he was fouled again and hit one. Melvin Ruffin (11 points, seven rebounds) hit two free throws for the game's final points.
The 9-0 game-ending run closed out a back-and-forth game that featured eight lead changes and eight ties.
Deer Park took its final lead at 45-44 when Marques Charlton (15 points) hit a three-pointer midway through the fourth. Rountree answered with a layup to make it 46-45, and although Deer Park tied it four more times, Bellport never trailed again.
Bellport led by seven in the first half, but the hot shooting of Charlton and Troy Corbin (14 points) kept Deer Park in it. The Falcons took four leads, with three of them coming after three-pointers by Corbin, who always seemed open in the corner.
"He kept sneaking out and hitting threes,'' Fedge said. "We had been talking about that.''
Bellport adjusted, and with a man guarding the perimeter and the Clippers going 8-for-11 from the line in the fourth quarter, Deer Park couldn't recover.