The Andrew Krenzer era is off to a strong start for the Dunkirk High School boys basketball team.
The Marauders opened the season under their new coach in style, taking control of a back-and-forth battle with Lancaster in the fourth quarter before coming away with a nice 57-52 win over the shorthanded Legends in the Lancaster Tip-off Tournament.
“This is a great start for us,” Krenzer said. “We’ve got a veteran group, they’re still getting used to me. We’re still getting going. They’re going to progress every day. They’re going to get steadily better and this is a great test for us.”
It marked the fourth season in a row that the Legends and Marauders met in the tournament’s semifinals. Dunkirk has won the last two after Lancaster won in 2014 and 2015. And for the second straight season, the Marauders will face a talented Health Sciences – led by University of Tennessee-bound standout Davonte Gaines – in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
“It should be a good game,” Dunkirk guard Devaun Farnham-DeJesus said. “It’s going to be tough trying to stop Davonte but … it’s going to be a good game, that’s all I can say.”
Meanwhile, Lancaster has been off to a slow start from the get-go – but for a good reason. The Legends are lacking several players that were also a part of Lancaster’s football team, which became the first in program history to reach the state championship game.
Lancaster coach John Otto said the Legends will remain shorthanded in Friday’s consolation game against Cleveland Hill – which starts at 6 p.m. – before returning to full strength next week when football players become eligible.
“We were a very limited team tonight,” Otto said. “Football-hangover, missing some guys … we had no legs trying to run with just seven guys the whole game. We knew it was going to be a challenge, but we thought we could come away with it. We made some mental mistakes but part of that comes from fatigue.”
Early on, it looked like Dunkirk was in for an easy win, jumping out to a 14-5 lead. But Lancaster regrouped and then took control of the game, creating a number of fast break opportunities into easy points. The Legends led 28-25 at halftime but the Marauders regained control in the third quarter and hit their free throws in the fourth.
“We had to keep track of the ball and stay in front of them defensively,” Farnham-DeJesus said. “That was our problem in the first half, that’s why they came into the half with the lead. In the second half we were better and then we just got the ball inside to get some free throws.”
Farnham-DeJesus led Dunkirk with 21 points. Tyrese Kristian-Johnson added 17 points, despite missing much of the first half in foul trouble.
“Once he got back in the game, that kind of changed things, especially on the boards,” Krenzer said.