NEW MATAMORAS - Frontier basketball coach Roger Kirkpatrick would like to have the third quarter of Tuesday's game against Caldwell back.
Trailing by just five at halftime, Caldwell used a 19-6 third period to pull away from the Cougars, taking a 55-37 lead into the fourth quarter at Hank Morus Gymnasium.
The Cougars rallied, and cut that deficit down to just two points with 22 seconds left in the game, but Damon Metheney's long 3-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark and the Redskins escaped with their first win of the season in two tries.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Frontier’s Drew Schneider, left, looks to pass as Caldwell’s Alexi Cubas, right, defends Tuesday night.
Frontier fell to 0-2 with the loss.
"Killed us," Kirkpatrick said of the third quarter.
"Down five at half, I felt pretty good. Third quarter, (Caldwell) came out and hit some shots."
Caldwell head coach Clint Crane felt fortunate to leave New Matamoras with a W.
"Luck," he said, laughing, when asked what they key to holding off Frontier's late rally was.
"We have to learn how to handle a little bit of prosperity. I don't know how many times last year we blew double-digit leads. ... In the end, a win's a win, but it sure didn't feel like it."
Frontier opened the fourth quarter on a 13-1 run, as a 3-point play from Nick Camino, a 3-point shot from Jeremiah Helmick and 2-pointers from Drew Schneider and Damon Metheney made the score 56-50 with 3:20 remaining.
Then Jonathan Weichman, who led Caldwell with 22 points in the game, fouled out on a charge call, leaving the Redskins without their best ball-handler for the game's final three minutes.
"That hurt us," Crane remarked. "We need him on the floor."
It proved to be pivotal as, after a pair of free throws by Camino, a Caldwell turnover led to a 3-pointer by Schneider to cut it to 58-56.
Caldwell's Tanner Clark brought the lead back to four points on a layup, but Rodney Barnes quickly answered with his own lay-in to make it 60-58.
In the next eight seconds, Caldwell's Caleb Heller traded baskets with Helmick to make the score 62-60.
With eight seconds left, Frontier fouled, sending Tanner Baker to the foul line.
Baker missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Cougars life, but a pass to Barnes up the court sailed out of bounds and gave Caldwell possession with three seconds left.
Frontier still wasn't done fighting.
Baker was fouled again on the inbound pass and again missed the first foul shot, with Frontier getting the rebound and calling timeout with just over a second left.
Metheney received the ensuing inbound pass just across the half-court line and fired up a tough shot that did not connect.
"Last-second shot, we got a good look and it just didn't fall," Kirkpatrick said.
"Overall, it was hard-fought game."
Caldwell shot 22-for-58 (38 percent) from the floor while Frontier was 20-for-57 (35 percent).
After Weichman's 22, Clark added 13 points and Johnny Carpenter had seven to lead the Redskins.
Helmick's 16 markers led the Cougars with Schneider right behind with 15. Camino and Barnes added 14 and 10, respectively.
Weichman grabbed a game-high 15 boards, posting a double-double.
A 3-pointer by Clark and a coast-to-coast layup by Weichman made it 11-3 early in the first quarter, but a trey from Barnes and back-to-back buckets by Helmick and Schneider made it a 1-point game.
Later in the first quarter, after a successful put-back attempt by Helmick on a Jake Bradford miss, Carpenter drained a jumper and Heller converted a 3-point play to close out the opening period with Caldwell up 21-15.
The Redskins stretched their lead to 36-24 late in the second quarter before a 3-ball by Levi Cochran and four straight points by Helmick cut it to 36-31 at the half.
Caldwell came out strong in the second half, scoring 17 of the first 20 points in the half to go up 53-34.
After a Camino 3 cut it to 53-37, Clark banked in a floater at the buzzer to set up the thrilling final stanza.
"We fought back," Kirkpatrick said. "They're a good team.
"Hopefully we can grow from this and get better."
Both teams will participate in non-conference action this weekend, with Frontier going to Beallsville Friday and Caldwell visiting Belpre Saturday.