BEVERLY - After already going to war three times with the Monroe Central Seminoles, Fort Frye Cadet head coach Dan Liedtke knows exactly what to expect in this Saturday's sectional final at Meadowbrook High.
"It's going to be another battle, it's undoubtedly one of the biggest teams we play," said Liedtke. "They put a lot of size out there and always are a tough match-up for us."
Each of the three previous match-ups were very close games with each team winning its home meeting.
Fort Frye handed the Seminoles a 44-37 loss in Beverly, back on December 28.
Monroe Central returned the favor on its homecourt with a dramatic 48-45 win February 4 on a game winning three-pointer from guard Jimmy Baker.
That set up the third meeting between the two rivals, this time in the OVAC Boys Basketball Championship game on February 19 OU?Eastern in Belmont.
That contest was as close as it gets. The entire second half was played with neither team leading by more than one possession.
Fort Frye pulled out a 47-45 win on a buzzer-beating tip-in by senior Garrett Legraen.
The Seminoles, now 16-5 on the season, advanced to the sectional game with a going-away 58-39 victory over Bellaire last Saturday night. Marcus Schumacher led the way with 17 points, while Baker chipped in with 13.
The Cadets' route to the final was a bit more of a struggle as the Fort needed overtime and an outstanding 33-point performance from sophomore Shon Smith to down West Muskingum 56-55 and improve their season record to 18-3.
Smith, who leads Fort Frye in scoring (14.3 ppg), has been on quite a streak, scoring 53 points in the last two Cadet matchups.
Several of those points have been late, clutch shots that have either tied games or put the Cadets ahead.
"He has really elevated his game," said Seminole head coach Greg Taylor. "We hope we can elevate our defense to that level."
Leidtke recognizes the contribution of his outstanding sophomore but also knows he needs his entire squad to be up to the task to knock off MC again.
"Shon has hit a lot of big baskets for us," said Liedtke. "But one player is not going to do it, we need everyone to get going.
Monroe Central will more than likely go with the same starting five that coach Taylor went with in Belmont.
Baker, Kory Hill and Schumacher out front, joined by the inside tandem of 6-foot 5 seniors' Shane Highman and Guiler Bettinger.
"Their post players are hard to stop," said Liedtke. "They are big and know how to score."
Liedtke usually starts Smith, along with seniors Donald Hilverding and Eddie Watson out front,
Legraen and junior Zach Eddy will draw the challenge of containing the Seminole big men.
When Liedtke looks for a boost from the bench he calls on senior guard Colt Skinner.
"He's not very tall, but its amazing the hustle he puts on the floor." beamed Liedtke. "He's a spark for us."
Taylor is looking forward to the challenge, "Each game has been tight, I felt the last game we did'nt execute down the stretch, we are hoping to come up with the big plays at the end of the game," he said
Liedtke hopes his strategy will be enough to make it three out of four. "They have a size advantage," the Cadet coach said. "Hopefully we can counter by playing solid defense and shooting well at the offensive end."
Saturday's rematch is scheduled for an 8:15 tip-off back at Meadowbrook High school with the winner advancing to the New Philadelphia district.