BYESVILLE - Heavily favored Fort Frye came into Wednesday night's sectional tournament opener against West Muskingum hoping to avoid any kind of a let down after a huge week that saw them defeat a very tough Linsly team and then capture an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference 3-A title with a double overtime win over Steubenville Catholic Central.
The Cadets completed that objective in a big way as they grabbed a 14-point first quarter lead and never looked back as they easily defeated the Tornadoes 73-36 at Meadowbrook High School.
Chandler Lang and Seth Legraen combined for 35 points and the Cadets drilled nine triples as they won for the 20th time on the season.
Fort Frye opened the game in a full-court press that seemed to rattle the Bill Crane-led Tornadoes as it forced five first quarter turnovers that led to a 22-8 lead.
"A lot of times in the tournament teams kind of start out slow and nervous but our guys didn't show that at all," said second year Cadet head coach Eric Henniger. "We came out in full court pressure to try and get our legs underneath us and our kids really came out ready to play."
Leading by just a point at 5-4, things began to click for the Fort as it reeled off seven straight points to stake claim to a 12-4 lead.
FORT FRYE 73 WEST MUSKINGUM 36
at Meadowbrook High School
West Muskingum 8 6 13 9 - 36
Fort Frye 22 16 21 14 - 73
West Muskingum (2-21)
Drew McKenzie 2-2 0-0 4, Drake Dodson 2-5 0-0 6, Austin Lucas 2-5 0-0 4, Colton Pickrell 2-9 0-0 5, Erik Engdahl 3-5 1-2 7, Kayne Johnson 0-0 1-4 1, Nick Hart 0-1 0-0 0, Luke Imes 2-4 0-0 4, Seth Mirgon 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Newsome 1-2 0-0 2, Blake Stubbins 0-1 0-0 0, Cody Dierkes 1-4 0-0 3, J.P. Mussleman 0-0 0-0 0, Totals: 15-38 2-6 36, Three-Point Goals: 4 (Dodson 2, Pickrell 1, Dierkes 1).
Fort Frye (20-3)
Carter Kiefer 3-5 1-3 7, Colton Shuster 0-2 0-0 0, Justin Anderson 3-5 0-0 9, Devin Brooker 2-5 0-0 5, Jordan Anderson 3-7 3-4 10, Seth Legraen 6-8 5-5 17, Tyson Niceswanger 1-4 0-0 3, Chandler Lang 6-11 3-4 18, Logan Madison 1-1 2-2 4, Isaac Klinger 0-0 0-0 0, Terren Huck 0-0 0-0 0, Totals: 25-48 14-18 73. Three-Point Goals: 9 (Lang 3, Justin Anderson 3, Jordan Anderson 1, Niceswanger 1, Brooker 1).
West Muskingum: Shooting: 15-38 (39.5 percent), Three-Point Shooting: 4-13 (30.8 percent), Rebounds: 24 (Engdahl 8), Assists: 7 (Newsome 2), Steals: 3, Turnovers: 18, Team Fouls: 12.
Fort Frye: Shooting: 25-48 (52.1 percent), Three-Point Shooting: 9-18 (50 percent) Rebounds: 28 (Kiefer 6, Legraen 5), Assists: 20 (Jordan Anderson 7, Lang 5), Steals: 11 (Lang 4, Jordan Anderson 3), Turnovers: 6, Team Fouls: 11.
Next game: Fort Frye vs Harrison Central Wednesday Feb. 26 (7 p.m.) at Meadowbrook High School.
A rebound put-back bucket by West M's Erik Engdahl cut the lead to six, but the Cadets got a huge spark off the bench by freshman Justin Anderson to pull out to the big lead.
Anderson, who has provided instant offense off the Cadet bench all season long, canned a pair of triples in the final three minutes of the first half and a third one early in the second quarter to increase the lead to 26-10.
"He (Anderson) is a great outside shooter who has worked on his defensive game a lot," said Henniger of his super rookie. "Having his length and his jumping ability helps us out a ton on defense and when he can hit three three-pointers in the first half, that helps out a bunch."
Fort Frye continued to increase the lead sparked by seven points by Legraen in the final four minutes of the half to push the lead to 38-14 at the break.
While the Cadets excelled as a team in the first half, Lang struggled a little bit with his shot as he scored just three points in the first 16 minutes, all coming at the charity stripe.
The senior guard recovered in a huge way in the second half as he canned three long-balls and scored 15 points alone in the third quarter to lead the Fort to a quite comfortable 59-27 lead heading to the final quarter.
"He (Lang) was struggling in the first half offensively," said Henniger of Lang, who always draws his opponents best player on defense. "He definitely found his groove in the third quarter and kind of went off."
"I realized I was fading away a little bit on my jump shot," said Lang, who led all scorers with 18 points in the game. "I needed to go straight back up and it helped a lot in the second half."
Legraen made good on all six of his field goal attempts from inside the three-point line to finish with 17 points while senior guard Jordan Anderson added 10 points and a game-high seven assists.
"We were able to get the ball out and push it and everybody was hustling and playing good defense," said Jordan Anderson. "When we play good defense it seems we play well on offense too."
Engdahl's seven points led the way for Muskingum, whose season comes to a close with a disappointing 2-21 record while the Cadets improved to 20-3.
Fort Frye will next try and claim a sectional championship next Wednesday when it takes on Harrison Central back at Meadowbrook in Byesville.
"We knew coming into the game that we had to play well," said Lang of the victory.
"In the tournament you don't take any team lightly and you have to come out and play your hardest. We did that and came out on top."