By Mikai Bruce
This past weekend was the Rock the Red games for the men’s and women’s basketball teams at SUNY Plattsburgh. Both teams took home victories for the Rock the Red event. These games are significant because they promote support for the teams and school spirit overall.
The festivities began with the women’s team facing off against Fredonia. The Plattsburgh Cardinals (8-15, SUNYAC 4-12) dominated the Fredonia Blue Devils (5-16, SUNYAC 2-14) in a 71-60 win thanks in large part to the defensive excellence of the 6-foot Imani Walcott. Walcott posted five blocks in Friday’s win and when anyone came into the lane she made it her mission to send them back empty handed. Walcott was also dominant on the glass, grabbing 15 rebounds, with five of them coming on the offensive end. She used her height to overwhelm Fredonia and at times she made the game look easy.
Another significant contributor to the Cardinals’ win was Izzy Wilbur, who had 19 points and three assists with four threes made. Early in the game, she punished Fredonia for giving her too much space and quickly ran up her points total. In the second half, she matched her first half production, leading to a sweat-free win for the Cardinals.
Jaden Wilson and Mya Smith both poured in 12 points for the Cardinals and they were great ancillary scoring options all game long. Although the gym wasn’t packed to the brim for the women’s game with 168 people in attendance, there was still an outcry of support from the people who were there.
The men’s team (10-13, SUNYAC 6-10) also faced off against the Fredonia Blue Devils (2-21, SUNYAC 2-14) and came out with an 80-70 victory. This game was a bit more dramatic than the women’s game. With 407 people packed in Memorial Hall, which is a huge turnout compared to other games, and commemorative shirts being handed out in the name of school spirit, the atmosphere was electric. Whenever a shot was made, the crowd roared. Early on it was Kevin Tabb who had the gym rocking.
Tabb racked up 26 points during the game and he began his scoring tear with multiple three pointers in the opening minutes. Fredonia couldn’t stay in front of Tabb on fast breaks either, as he sped past opponents many times down the floor. Franklin Infante was a cool-headed point guard for the Cardinals recording five assists and zero turnovers. He also put in 15 points with two threes, and flashed a couple of nice floaters as well.
The Cardinals had a huge lead going into halftime, but in the second half it began to slip away. That is until the story of the night began his onslaught. Sasha Vidrini came off the bench, scoring 14 points in the second half— a career high for him. He had fans out of their seats, and after every three he made the crowd scream, embodying school spirit.
“I got a lot of confidence from my teammates at first. I came in for a couple minutes in the first half and they told me to keep my head up and that’s where I got my confidence,” Vidrini said after the game.
Support from teammates is often all it takes for someone to be imbued with confidence and this was the case here for Vidrini en route to his career night.
“I think he had the best performance on the court tonight, making his shots, making the right reads and passes,” teammate Levi Delaney said.
Delaney wasn’t alone in this thinking. Murmurs could be heard amongst the crowd about Vidrini’s performance and just how ecstatic everyone was that he was able to shine.
Head Coach Mike Blaine also gave the crowd some credit.
“Guys were playing hard and were feeding off the crowd — it obviously boosts performance,” Blaine said.
The crowd embodied the spirit of Rock the Red, playing a huge factor in the Cardinals’ win. The Cardinals are in a tight playoff race and this win was instrumental to their goal of making the playoffs.