Prep boys basketball: Fort Frye routs Union Local, 74-53

BEVERLY – Way back on December 14th of last year things looked rather bleak for the Fort Frye Cadets as a 73-64 loss to the Shenandoah Zeps dropped their record to 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the Pioneer Valley Conference.

What a turnaround it has been for first year head coach Eric Henniger and his Cadets as they have went 12-2 since and stand just one victory away from securing at least a share of the Pioneer Valley Conference Championship.

The latest of those victories came Tuesday night as the host Cadets erupted for a 23-0 second quarter run and went on to handily defeat the Union local Jets 74-53 in an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference consolation game.

“Our kids are playing very well right now,” said Henniger of his team which missed a berth in the OVAC tournament by a single spot. “They are putting so much effort into every practice. Every single day they are giving 110 percent and that is really transitioning into the games.”

Trailing 17-13 with just under seven minutes to play in the first half, the Cadets used outstanding defense and white- hot shooting to turn that deficit into a healthy 19-point halftime lead.

The red white and blue forced seven turnovers and shot nine-of-11 from the floor in the pivotal second period.

Sophomore Seth Lagraen got things started by connecting on one-of-two free throws and a Shon Smith bucket closed the lead to 17-16.

Steals by Tyler Norris and Smith resulted in transition baskets to give the Cadets a three-point lead before Dominic Omspach drilled a trey to increase the Cadet lead to 23-17.

Lagraen’s steal and basket increased the lead to eight before Smith scored seven consecutive points, the last coming from behind the arc, and the rout was on.

Scores from Chandler Lang and Lagraen capped what turned out to be a 23-4 second quarter and sent the Fort to the locker room with a healthy 36-17 halftime lead.

The Cadets picked up right where they left off in the third quarter as a 17-6 run, capped by seven consecutive points by junior Jordan Anderson, made it a 30-point lead at 53-23.

Union Local outscored the Cadets by a 20-14 margin in the final period but by then it was way too little, way too late for the Jets.

“It all starts on the defensive end,” said Henniger of his teams defense which forced 21 Union Local turnovers in the game. “We came up with a lot of steals and defensive rebounds which we turned into transition baskets.”

Smith continued his hot streak of late as the senior guard poured in a game-high 24 points in a little over three quarters of action, while also coming up with six steals and seven rebounds.

Smith is averaging 29.3 points per game over his last three contests.

Lagraen contributed another double-double as he grabbed a game high 11 rebounds to go along with 17 points.

Anderson finished in double figures with 11, while Omspach came off of the bench for nine points, all coming from behind the arc.

Trenton Tipton paced the Jets with 15 points, including three triples, while Kaleb McDiffitt also reached double figures with 11.

The Cadets have another OVAC consy match up Friday night on the road at Wheeling Park before returning home Monday night for a crucial battle with the River Pilots that will settle the PVC.

A win would guarantee the Cadets at least a share of the PVC title.

“I told the boys way back when we were 0-3 in the conference that we still have a chance to win this conference,” said Henniger, whose Cadets secured a number one seed for the upcoming sectional tournament. “They knew we had to win every single game that we could and that’s what they have done.”

One thing Henniger knows for sure is that the effort will be there from his squad.

“I have no doubt in my mind that we will come out and play hard,” said Henniger. “We are going to have to play a great game against a very good River team.”

The Cadets junior varsity squad also had a big night against Union Local as Devin Brooker scored 26 points, including eight three-pointers to lead Fort Frye to a 50-30 win.