FORT ANN — The Cardinals boys basketball team possesses an elevated level of self-awareness needed to be respected and taken seriously.
After a 77-26 Adirondack League home victory over Fort Edward Tuesday night, Fort Ann improved to 4-0 overall and all of Section II should take notice.
Led by a talented group of seniors featuring Luke Loso and a standout junior in Dylan Frost, Fort Ann knows exactly who and what they are, and carry themselves accordingly.
Tuesday night’s game plan called for an intense full-court zone, which forced the Forts into 18 turnovers. Offensively, the Cardinals ran free, yet knew when to execute their half-court sets, as Loso led all scorers with 26 points.
“I thought our press was very good,” Fort Ann coach Kevin Nassivera said. “We got in the passing lanes and made them throw the ball away more than we actually stole it.”
“We ran a one-two-two (zone),” he added. “That is something we’ve ran in past years but have not gone over it in practice yet. But the kids are used to it. I have 10 kids back from last year’s team, so this is not foreign to them.”
Fort Ann grabbed an 18-point halftime lead, then followed that up by allowing only eight second-half points.
There was not much the Forts could do, which says more about the Cardinals’ returning talent and familiarity with Nassivera’s system.
Several times Fort Ann would force a turnover, make two or three passes and finish a layup, all without taking a dribble.
“This group has jelled pretty well,” Loso said. “We usually play intense defensively, which leads to fast-break points. No team wants to be pressured for 32 minutes a game. So after 20 seconds go by on the shot clock, opponents get tired but we stay intense.”
“We stay in their grill and after a while, they might throw it away,” he said. “We’ve always grinded out stuff in soccer or basebal, so that is just ingrained in us.”
Seniors Brendan Wright, Sawyer Lunt, and Richie Jones provide natural shot-making abilities and athleticism, which will make the Cardinals as much a defensive nightmare as they are an offensive quagmire.
Loso got buckets Tuesday, but Fort Ann has five guys that can score. When league play picks up after the New Year and teams start thinking about the playoffs, the Cardinals should be at the heart of any elite conversation.
Fort Ann recognizes that also because even a group of 17-year-old boys can exercise and execute self-awareness.
“At the end, I’m thinking probably reaching a sectional championship,” Loso said. “Obviously its one game at a time because we have to win these ones early in the season first in order to get to the one at the end of the season.”