Fossil shines in Arizona


Domenic Leone and Brady Rotner posing after a team practice in Phoenix.

Dylan Heinrich, Sports Writer

The holiday cheer started early for the Sabercats, as the Fossil Ridge boys basketball team won a pair of games in Arizona to conclude their non-conference schedule. 

The team spent three days in Phoenix right before the winter break. Their first matchup came against Rancho Solano Preparatory School. RSP finished as the runner-up in the 2A Arizona class last year, so the Sabercats knew they’d have to play strong. 

Fossil played well through the first half, well enough to build a 26-12 lead at halftime. But even with the lead, the Sabercats knew that they had the ability to play better in the second half. 

“We could be up by 30 points,” said forward Matthew Boldt during the half.

Boldt contesting a shot during the first half against Rancho Solano.

The team took the message to heart, coming out flying in the third quarter. Fossil Ridge outscored their opponents 24-3 during those eight minutes, stretching their lead to 35.  After a quiet fourth quarter, the Sabercats started the trip with a 56-24 victory. 

A big part of their dominant win was their incredible defense. Fossil was able to keep Rancho out of the paint and only allowed low-percentage perimeter shots. A major part of the defense came from wing Colin Hayes, whose long arms and quick feet came in handy into forcing his opponents into difficult shots. 

“The key was just to stay in front,” Hayes said. “Our team is so lengthy that we always have defensive help.” 

The Sabercats continued that effort into their second game of the trip against Valley Vista High School. With this being their last game for almost a month, Fossil and coach Matt Johannsen made a point of giving maximum effort in this performance. 

“You have 20 days until your next game,” Johannsen said. “20 days is a long time to sit on something you’re not proud of. Leave it all out there.”

The team took his advice to heart, jumping out to a 42-15 lead at halftime. A big part of their success was the help from nontypical scorers. By halftime Hayes and Drew Larson both had 7 points, while sharpshooter Cooper Mcmillin had a pair of deep threes off the bench.

Mcmillin practicing his threes before his game against Valley Vista.

Mcmillin is one of the best shooters on the Sabercats, able to pull up from five feet behind the three point line and drain them with ease.

“It’s just staying ready and staying confident,” Mcmillin said. “It’s a shot I practice a lot…it really opens up the floor, especially in transition.

After building such a large lead the Sabercats once again coasted to a 66-35 victory, defeating their opponents by a total score of 120-59 on the trip. 

Fossil will have a long layoff before starting conference play during the new year against Erie High School at home on January 7.