FREEPORT – Freeport junior Brendan Qualls spearheaded an early-game charge to keep the young Falcons close to the sizeable and skilled Greely Rangers Wednesday night, Dec. 11. But late in the first quarter, Greely found their groove and broke the bout open, ultimately seizing a big victory, 92-31.

The homecourt loss drops Freeport to 0-2 on the year.

“[They’re] a very good team,” Freeport head coach Matt Cook said of his opposition. “They’re going to take things away.”

Qualls knocked down a two and a three in the opening minutes, contributing five of the Falcon’s first-quarter 12. Matt Schultheis dropped in a three as well, and Nathaniel Cyr and Chandler Birmingham each notched a two.

Those numbers allowed Freeport to keep pace with the powerhouse Rangers for nearly a quarter. As the first wound down, however, Greely senior Michael McDevitt, approximately 13 feet tall, led his team on a 16-3 run and took play firmly in-hand. 26-12 after one.

“We were moving the ball, playing unselfishly,” Freeport head coach Matt Cook said of his team’s efforts to start the match. “We were able to rebound some.

“And then, second quarter, we kind of got one-dimensional, impatient. We didn’t reverse the ball, making one-two passes then shooting – and our shots weren’t falling. We’ve got to be able to make those shots.”

The Falcons posted their weakest offensive effort in the second quarter – just two points, belonging to Birmingham – but they simultaneously stepped up their defense, holding the Rangers to 16 points. 42-14 after two.

Cook elaborated on his squad’s impatience. “[We weren’t] getting the ball inside,” he said. “Not looking for the great shot, just taking the first available. We like to get things from the inside out and that wasn’t happening either. We weren’t able to get dribble penetration.”

Greely controlled the remainder of the game as well, outscoring Freeport nearly 3-1. The Falcons’ drive appeared to hold steady; the Rangers’ size, experience and ability to work the ball before shooting simply overwhelmed them.

Cook called a number of timeouts to regroup his boys during the action. “I told them, ‘You’ve gotta keep playing hard.’ Offensively, I talked about moving the ball, dribble penetration, being patient.”

Freeport has some height, but they don’t have much bulk; to compete with a bigger lineup, Cook said, players need to “battle, and be quick – be fundamentally sound, and that’s one thing we weren’t; we didn’t do a good job defending face cutters. We kind of let people go where they wanted to, and a team like that, if you do that, they’re going to have their way.”

“We’re young,” Cook said. “We’re going to get better.” The Falcons have just two seniors on the court this year, Schultheis and Birmingham. They have six juniors and four sophomores, however, giving them a roster to look forward to.

Cook had praise for Schultheis’s game in particular. “He kept battling, every second he was in there.” Schultheis led the team in scoring with nine; Birmingham and Qualls hashed seven each.

“We’ll see how resilient they are. Like I said, we’re young, we’re fairly inexperienced, but it’s a long season and this is only our second game.

“We play the game of basketball because we love it; there’s no reason to hang our heads. We’re just going to keep playing hard.”

Freshman guard Connor Dostie looks to pass against Greely Wednesday night.  Sophomore guard Eli Fox tosses up a three against Greely.  Freeport Junior Brendan Qualls, cuts around a Greely defender Wednesday night. Qualls had seven points in the homecourt loss. 

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