By Josh Shreckengost
Freeport junior shooting guard Conner Holloway (20) knocks down a three-pointer in the corner during the fourth quarter of Freeport's 59-46 home loss to Derry Area on Tuesday night. Holloway finished with 13 points as the Yellowjackets fell to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in WPIAL 4A Section 1 play.
Sarver, Pa. -- The third quarter has been the Freeport boys varsity basketball team's weakness over the past couple of years and the deficiencies the Yellowjackets have experienced in the period cropped up once again in a 59-46 home loss to Derry Area on Tuesday night.
"It's been our kryptonite the past two years, that third quarter," Freeport head coach Wayne Greiser said. "At Burrell last week, we had a really good third quarter and pulled out a win, but tonight it just went in the wrong direction again. We didn't communicate on defense. let [Tyson Webb] get that wide open three, they made it and it kind of just snowballed from there. We can't dig ourselves holes and then use all of our energy trying to get back, only for them to put us back in that hole again."
The Trojans came into the contest with a 1-3 overall record, but were tied with Freeport in the 4A-Section 1 standings with a 1-2 record and it was evident from the opening tip that Derry Area's intensity would be difficult for the Yellowjackets to match.
The teams traded threes to open the scoring with Webb and Conner Holloway exchanging triples, but the Trojans scored the next four before Cole Charlton ended the run. The action was back-and-forth in the first quarter and at the end of eight minutes of play, the Trojans held a one-point lead, 12-11.
The Yellowjackets did a good job of holding down Derry Area senior point guard Ryan Bushey in the first quarter as they limited him to just three points. Bushey was coming off a career performance in which he scored 41 points in a victory over Knoch and Greiser knew that stopping the Trojans' slasher for four quarters would be a tall task.
In the second quarter, Bushey came alive with a three-point play, a couple of free throws and a three-pointer from the top of the key to score eight points in the frame and give the Trojans a 26-20 halftime advantage. Conversely, the Yellowjackets were unable to convert quality looks on the offensive end as went ice cold in the period as they scored just nine points as a team.
"It's tough, we've been practicing at the other gym since the middle school has been closed and I told them it was almost like an away game, but that's just excuses, we've got to make the shots and that's on me," Greiser said.
Derry wasted little time in expanding its six-point halftime advantage as Webb buried a three just out of the locker room. That led to a 13-0 run and a 19-point Trojans lead before Freeport was finally able to get a bucket from Jason Kijowski with 3:44 left in the third quarter. Derry outscored Freeport, 20-10 in the frame and held a 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. That was more than enough for the Trojans to hang on and stave off a couple of Freeport runs en route to a key section win.
Freeport held a 14-8 edge in rebounding in the first half, a trend that would continue in the second, but the Yellowjackets struggled with turnovers and foul trouble for the majority of the contest. Overall, Freeport won the battle on the glass by a pretty substantial margin, 27-17, but turned the ball over 19 times as compared to the Trojans' 14. The Yellowjackets were also limited to just seven free throw attempts while Derry Area went to the line 26 times in the game.
Bushey led all scorers with a game-high 19 points while teammates Sam Jones (17) and Webb (11) also hit double digits for the victorious Trojans. Charlton led Freeport with 16 points and Holloway was the only other Yellowjacket to reach double figures as he chipped in with 13 points.
Despite winning the fourth quarter on the scoreboard, 16-13, the Yellowjackets were handed a tough loss, one which Greiser and his staff will look to build upon, despite the sour taste left by the defeat.
"We battled to the end, I thought the guys were out there competing until the final buzzer so we'll take that as a positive and build off that," Greiser said. "I thought offensively, we got good looks. We just have to capitalize and make them. The negatives were, I thought they out-hustled us. They got some loose balls and offensive rebounds. That doesn't take skill or talent, it takes heart and determination and unfortunately, we were lacking that at some times."
To watch a complete re-broadcast of Derry Area's 59-46 win over Freeport, please click the link below: