It was the easiest word Fredonia head coach Nick Bertrando could come up with to describe Nick Whitfield’s Thursday night.
Hundreds of spectators in a packed Fredonia High School gym would agree.
In his final home game against crosstown rival Dunkirk, Whitfield scored 48 points, including numerous highlight-reel dunks, as the Hillbillies dominated the Marauders en route to an 87-52 victory.
“This is something that he’ll never forget. … For him to end his career at home against Dunkirk like this, it’s pretty special,” Bertrando said. “It’s something he won’t forget for a long time, and I won’t either.”
Fredonia improved to 7-6 overall and 1-4 in Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association play with the victory, but team success aside, the night belonged to No. 22 in the white and orange.
Whitfield simply could not be stopped.
Dunkirk tried multiple defenses.
Even sending the 6-foot-5 Whitfield to the free-throw line 14 times.
None of it worked.
“When you get this crowd from Dunkirk and Fredonia, you have to put on a show. The crowd was going crazy for them and us,” Whitfield said. “We have that type of gym where it gets loud very easily. … You look up in the crowd and you see there’s nowhere to sit. It doesn’t get better than that really.”
Fredonia junior Ethan Fry hit four consecutive 3-pointers to open the game and Whitfield scored 9 points in the first quarter as the hosts built a 21-10 lead.
“When you consider the start that he had shooting the ball, it opens up opportunities for everybody else,” Bertrando said of Fry, who finished with 20 points. “It gives the rest of the team a ton of confidence.”
Whitfield added 10 more points in the second quarter as the Hillbillies took a 38-19 halftime lead.
“We want to come jump on them early and keep it on them,” Whitfield said. “It’s a rivalry game. If we come out and play our ball for 32 minutes, there’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to win.”
The Saint Francis-bound quarterback took over even more in the second half.
His third quarter included another dunk and a conventional three-point play as Dunkirk (7-7, 0-5) tried to get physical with him.
Whitfield welcomed it.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Fredonia led 61-35 and all that was left to decide was how many points Whitfield would score.
“I didn’t really know how much I had, I just played my game,” Whitfield said. “It doesn’t really matter the points, it just matters that the team won.”
Following a bucket to open the quarter, Whitfield broke free on a breakaway after a teammate blocked a shot at the other end of the floor. As he gathered for another dunk, a Marauders player grabbed him and shoved him into the wall for an intentional foul.
It was just about the only way to slow him down.
Whitfield flexed after the foul and then calmly sank both free throws with a smile on his face for his 37th and 38 points of the night. He followed that up with three more dunks — switching from the two-hand variety early in the game to the more flashy tomahawk variety late — before heading to the line late for a pair of technical foul shots for his 47th and 48th points.
“I just try to get the crowd into it,” Whitfield said. “Once they get into it and we get the momentum, it’s hard to come back from.”
Bertrando pulled Whitfield with 2:04 remaining in the game, later admitting he didn’t know that he was just 2 points from 50.
While he didn’t join the likes of Fredonia and Chautauqua County record holder Michael Heary (62), Ripley’s Paul Bretz (56) or Jamestown’s Maceo Wofford (53), Whitfield certainly put on a show that many in the North County won’t soon forget.
“We always talk about not circling certain games and overlooking other ones … but you always kind of have in the back of your mind when you are playing your crosstown rival,” Bertrando said. “With so few rivalries any more, it’s special. With mergers … and social media, it’s not what it used to be.
“But this one,” Bertrando added with a grin, “is alive and well.”
NOTES: Marcel Carter led the Marauders with 24 points. … Fredonia finished 31 of 58 (53.4%) from the field, including 7 of 16 (43.8%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 11 times. … Dunkirk was 20 of 59 (33.9%) from the field, including 7 of 25 (28%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 17 times. … Dunkirk won the jayvee game 55-53. Kingston Hall led the Marauders with 20 points and Luis Rodriguez had 12. Luca Gullo had 22 and Malachi Hall had 12 for the Hillbillies.
Carter 10 0 24, Lewis 2 2 7, Tell 1 0 2, Lanski 4 0 8, DeJesus 0 0 0, Couser 1 3 5, Orcutt 2 0 6, Nunez 0 0 0. Totals 20 5 52.
Hahn 1 0 3, Tabone 0 0 0, Field 0 0 0, KWhitfield 2 0 4, Fry 6 4 20, Quinn 3 0 8, NWhitfield 18 12 48, Schrader 0 0 0, Hawk 1 0 2, White 0 2 2. Totals 31 18 87.
3-point goals–Carter 4, Lewis, Orcutt 2, Hahn, Fry 4, Quinn 2.
Dunkirk 10 9 16 17 — 52
Fredonia 21 17 23 26 — 87
Jayvees: Dunkirk won 55-53.