DIXON – Last season, Chris Fritsch was the SVM boys basketball player of the year after starring for Sterling High School, and Jacob Fisher put up gaudy numbers at Princeton.
This season, the two are reserves at Sauk Valley Community College. Saturday, they saw extensive playing time as the Skyhawks romped past depleted Truman College of Chicago 101-55.
Fritsch, who averaged 14.9 points and 9.7 rebounds and piled up 15 double-doubles for Sterling last season, went from being “the man” to being one of many.
“It’s a rough transition. I just have to wait my turn,” said Fritsch, who scored 12 points. “This just teaches character. Everybody’s been keeping my head up, because there’s been times I’ve been down.”
Fisher put up 17.1 points, 8 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game for Princeton last season.
“It’s been an eye-opener. There’s a lot better guys out there than me,” said Fisher, who scored 10 points. “Some games I get in a couple minutes, some I don’t get in at all.” “Coach tells me to hang in there, and I’ll get my chance next year.”
Sauk (20-10) toyed with Truman (5-25) early before pulling away in its regular-season finale. The Skyhawks had beaten the Falcons 57-43 in mid-December, but Truman only brought six players Saturday.
Sharpshooter Jalen Riley scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the first half for the Skyhawks. Riley scored 13 of Sauk’s first 15 points, hitting five of his first six shots, including three 3s.
Sauk led 37-28 with 6 minutes left in the first half. It outscored Truman 18-0 to finish the half and led 55-28 at the break.
The Skyhawks’ starters scarcely saw the floor in the second half, as Fisher, Fritsch, and company got plenty of minutes. Fifteen of the 16 available Sauk players scored.
“We’ve got guys on the third team that are talented,” Sauk coach Russ Damhoff said. “They deserve [playing time]. We haven’t been able to do that that much this year.”
Magd Owayed was also in double figures for the Skyhawks with 10 points.
Jamal Akakpo led Truman with 21 points. James Murdock added 18.
The teams combined to shoot 62 3-pointers. Sauk was 12-for-36, and Truman 8-for-26. Riley was 5-for-8, and Akakpo 5-for-11.
Perhaps the game’s only real drama was whether the Skyhawks would score 100 points. Fisher took care of that with a breakaway dunk – of sorts – in the final seconds.
“I was going to try to dunk it,” he said. “I normally can, but I was so tired. I slipped and messed it up.”
Star of the game: Jalen Riley, Sauk, 23 points, 20 in 1st half
Key performers: Jamal Akakpo, Truman, 21 points; James Murdock, Truman, 18 points; Chris Fritsch, Sauk, 12 points
Up next: Region IV Tournament, Sauk vs. TBA, March 2 or 3