UTICA, NY – Proctor senior Francisco Sosa-Martinez may only be able to speak a couple English phrases (the transplant from the Dominican Republic uses a translator for his native Spanish), but there’s a language he can speak very fluently: the body language of head coach Mark Joseph.
“As good of a talent as he is, he plays on my facial expressions,” Joseph said. “He knows how he’s playing by my facial expressions.”
While it wasn’t the best game the Raiders could have played, Sosa-Martinez would have seen all smiles from Joseph, as he poured in 13 points in Proctor’s 61-46 victory over Fayetteville-Manlius on Tuesday. Fellow senior Todd Manolescu contributed another eight points, while junior Asa Beyah poured in another 10.
“The team helped me tonight,” Sosa-Martinez said through a translator after the game. “I felt good with how my team played. It was not just me out there tonight, it was my whole team.”
From the opening tip, however, both teams stumbled out of the blocks, going scoreless for almost the first two minutes of the game. As a matter of fact, the Hornets went over a quarter of the first period with a zero on their side of the scoreboard. Meanwhile, on the other side of the court, Proctor jumped out rather quickly, taking advantage of poor ball handling to pull out to a quick 9-2 lead. A 6-0 run by Fayetteville-Manlius, led by junior Khai Pugh and senior Brad Procita, helped the Hornets to get within three, however, but a three-pointer by senior Anthony Giglio pulled the lead right back to five just as the buzzer signaled the end of the first period.
Despite long stretches of scoreless basketball and countless turnovers, Hornets head coach Jason Dudzinski was proud of the way his team handled themselves in their first game as a unit. Most of his starters were even playing their first game in their starting roles.
“We wanted to measure ourselves tonight,” Dudzinski said. “[My starters] didn’t play much at all last season. Proctor is a tough place to start your season.”
It didn’t get much better in the second period for Fayetteville-Manlius, though it did look brighter as they inbounded the ball. On the back of Procita — who scored the Hornets’ first four points of the quarter, along with some timely turnovers — Fayetteville-Manlius was able to pull the lead back to one. Unfortunately, Manolescu, a transfer from Utica Notre Dame, hit two big shots to pull the lead right back, and just as quickly as the lead was trimmed to one, the lead went right back to eight, and before the end of the quarter, the lead had almost doubled. However, despite the many shots the Raiders made all night, Joseph wasn’t happy with the low shooting percentage on either side. Despite that, Proctor contributed the most from beyond the three-point arc, sinking three three-pointers while only getting two baskets within the perimiter.
“We missed a lot of shots, but they missed a lot too,” Joseph said. “Quick turnovers helped us. I don’t want to say it helped put the game out of reach, but it helped us go into the half up by 14.”
Despite the lopsided score going into the halftime break, the crowd, which had been extremely enthusiastic all night, were given one more thing to cheer about just before the buzzer. As he made his way up the court, Beyah managed to fake out not one, but two Hornets on the way to the basket, bringing the crowd to their feet as the quarter wound down. Beyah would also score on the play, giving the Raiders a 28-14 lead going into the locker room.
Coming out of the locker room, the Raiders continued to be hot, led by senior Landon Johnson. His six points, along with another three-pointer from Giglio, helped the Raiders extend the lead even further. Also adding to the consternation for Dudzinski was the fact that the Hornets were stone-cold from just about everywhere, at one point going over four minutes between the third and fourth quarters without a point.
On the other side, Proctor continued their hot streak, forcing Fayetteville-Manlius into almost exclusively fouling to keep time from going down faster. As a matter of fact, the Raiders would start scoring almost exclusively from the free-throw line, scoring 11 of the team’s 33 points in the second half from there. At the same time, the large lead would force Fayetteville-Manlius to try their luck at the three-point line. Unfortunately, they could only sink two of them, both in the fourth quarter.
“Defensively, we did a good job,” Joseph said. “They lost two big players, though…you put them in, it’s a different game.”
A tense moment would come early on in the fourth quarter, as the frustration began to show on the Hornets bench. Procita — who up to that point had been trying along with Pugh to keep Fayetteville-Manlius in the game – and senior Tyler Schneider got tangled up with Sosa-Martinez, drawing a foul. This drew the ire of the Proctor senior, who forced Procita into a war of words, giving the senior a technical foul. Luckily, the fracas was limited to just words, but it did give Sosa-Martinez a chance to put the game away with four free throws (two for the common foul on Schneider, two for the technical foul on Procita).
“When I got hit, no one said anything,” Sosa-Martinez said. “So I just thought I’d go do it myself.”
“It was just a kid sticking up for his teammate,” Dudzinski said of the foul, as well as his Hornets’ performance on the night. “At least we didn’t limp out of here. We’re going to move on. We’re not going to get ”
That was certainly a true statement from Dudzinski, as sophomore Ethan Page came off the bench in the last two minutes, knocking down five points in half that time to pull the Proctor lead back to 11. Unfortunately, that would not be enough, as the Raiders tried to play keep-away for the rest of the game to finally put the game away.
When asked about his performance, Sosa-Martinez was very happy.“I played good…I tried my best tonight,” Sosa-Martinez said. “It’s my home arena and I feel comfortable playing here.”
For Joseph, despite the fact that his team is 2-1 on the season, there’s still quite a lot of room for improvement.
“We have to improve…we can’t turn the ball over like that,” Joseph said. “We know we have to work to do.”
Proctor Raiders 61, Fayetteville-Manlius Hornets 46
Raiders 11 17 12 20 61
Hornets 6 8 9 23 46
Proctor Raiders (61)
Anthony Giglio 2 0-0 6, Havierre Green 1 0-0 3, Damon Stinson 0 1-2 1, Harold Carr 1 0-0 2, Todd Manolescu 2 3-4 8, Asa Beyah 4 5-6 15, Cameron Johnson 1 1-4 3, Landon Johnson 5 0-4 10, Francisco Sosa-Martinez 4 5-7 13. Total: 20 15-27 61.
Fayetteville-Manlius Hornets (46)
Tyler Schneider 2 0-0 5, Ethan Page 1 2-2 5, Nick Papa 0 1-2 1, Brad Procita 5 3-7 13, Khai Pugh 5 5-7 15, KC Miller 1 0-0 2, Cade Collum 0 2-3 2, Rume Egicbor 1 1-1 3. Total: 15 13-20 46.
Three-Point Field Goals: Proctor 6 (Giglio 2, Beyah 2, Manolescu, Green), Fayetteville-Manlius 2 (Schneider, Page).
Halftime: Proctor 28, Fayetteville-Manlius 14.
JV Score: Proctor 56, Fayetteville-Manlius 36.