The Post-Journal

Up To The Challenge

The Maple Grove Red Dragons had traveled Western New York all winter, facing a tough independent schedule and were the prohibitive favorite to capture their second straight Section 6 Class D championship.

But as Coach Curt Fischer headed to the locker room at halftime of the sectional title game, he looked at the scoreboard at the Physical Education Complex at Jamestown Community College and saw his team trailing Sherman 23-21.

“Time for a little chalk talk?”

“It wasn’t about Xs and Os,” Fischer said. “It was about the long road that we’ve come since last year’s (state) semifinals. We’ve worked so hard. The mood was, ‘Guys, we’ve done too much. Let’s just relax, go back to man and get back to Maple Grove basketball’”

Guess what? It worked.

The Red Dragons scored the first 17 points of the third quarter and went on to win, 43-32.

A week later, they knocked of Houghton Academy in the Far West Regional to gain another trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final in Glen Falls.

But again, it wasn’t easy.

Trailing, 19-14, early in the third quarter, Fischer moved Chris Secky, who spent the first half in foul trouble, to the point and the senior scored 21 of his 24 points to lead the Red Dragons to a 52-36 victory.

“I saw a kind of look in his eye (at half-time),” Fischer said. “When I put him at the point, it allowed him to create and give him an opportunity to do what he does best.”

What Fischer does best, Secky said, is know how to challenge his players.

“He’s challenged me individually and has challenged us as a team all the time,’ Secky said. “That’s important. We’ve had our ups and downs through the year, but I still love him. I’m the best I could be because of Coach.”

Once at the state Final Four, the Red Dragons surprised many by knocking off unbeaten New York Mills in the semifinals and then downing Coleman Catholic for their second NYSPHSAA crown in three years. Secky was incredible again, but Fischer, who is The Post-Journal’s co-Coach of the Year with Jamestown’s Ben Drake, pushed all the right buttons.

“It is an honor and a tribute to how hard the kids work during the offseason,” Fischer said after the title game. “I really believe championships are won in the offseason. Every time I needed the kids to do something, I had 14 guys there. Their hard work paid off, and it’s been that way since I’ve been here.

“We try and convince them to shoot for the top.”

The Red Dragons, just like their coach, were up to the challenge.

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