Statement win: Fort Frye bests Monroe Central in PVC showdown

WOODSFIELD – In baseball the old adage is good pitching will stop a good offense more times than not.

The same adage may well apply in high school basketball as a good defense can sometimes put a stop to a good offensive unit.

Such was the case Friday night as the visiting Fort Frye Cadets used an outstanding defensive performance to come away with a 65-39 lead over the usually high powered Monroe Central Seminoles to take over sole possession of first place in the Pioneer Valley Conference.

Monroe Central came into the game undefeated and averaging in excess of 80 points per game thru its first five games of the season but the ‘Noles struggled from the outset against the Fort Frye man-to-man defense.

“Our guys did a really good job of bringing the intensity level that they needed to come up and play in a tough road game like this,” said second year Cadet head coach Eric Henniger. “It was clear from the get go that our kids were going to play defense and they did a great job tonight.”

Monroe Central grabbed the quick 2-0 lead on a bucket from Curtis Nixon but the Cadets scored the next six including a trey from Chandler Lang to capture a 6-2 lead.

The ‘Noles were dealt a tough break as on a drive to the basket Nixon appeared to injure his right knee and the senior was helped off of the court in a great amount of pain.

Nixon missed both the football and basketball season’s last year when he severely injured his left knee but had appeared to make a full recovery judging by his outstanding grid iron season and his equally impressive start on the hardwood this winter.

Tanner Burkhart came into the game to replace Nixon who was to be taken for x-rays after the game.

“After not having him last season, he (Nixon) has become so valuable to our team,” said Seminole head coach Scooter Tolzda. “We’ll have to see what happens and we’ve got our fingers crossed that it is not to serious.”

Henniger was hopeful as well that the injury to his opponent would not be one that would cost him much of his final high school season.

“You hate to see something like that happen to a kid who worked his tail off to come back and play basketball,” said Henniger of Nixon. “I feel really bad for him and I know that was a huge factor in holding them down. It’s tough to bounce back from something like that.”

After Burkhart made a pair of free throws in place of Nixon, the Fort Frye offense took over as the Cadets strung together a 12-2 run to take an 18-6 lead.

The ‘Noles began to heat up a bit late in the quarter as three-balls by Zach Jorris and Bryan Duffy closed the Fort Frye lead to eight at 20-12 after the first quarter of play.

The Cadets were quick to derail any kind of momentum the Seminoles had gained at the end of the first quarter as they scored the first 13 points of the second period to race out to a comfortable 33-12 lead with only minutes to play in the half.

Almost like a carbon copy of the second quarter, the red white and blue opened the second half with yet another run, this one a 12-0 run to increase their lead to 48-17 and put away the Seminoles for all intents and purposes.

The lowest amount of points the Seminoles had scored in a single game going into the contest was 73, some 34 more than they managed against the tough Cadet defense.

“You’ve got to give Fort Frye a lot of credit. They did what they needed to do,” said Tolzda, in his second year as Seminole head coach. “They played really good defense and they ran their offense the way we knew they would.”

Five Cadet players scored at least nine points in the game including a double- double by junior Seth Lagraen who finished the night with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Carter Kiefer and Logan Madison added 12 and 11 points each to the Cadet attack while Jordan Anderson and Chandler Lang each finished with nine.

Henniger had high praise for Madison whose 11 points were a career best.

“Logan really came to play tonight and gave us a big boost,’ said Henniger of his 6-foot-3 junior. “He gives us good minutes every game he just happened to score a little bit more tonight.”

The ‘Noles were paced by Levi Brown with 12 points.

Monroe Central, which slipped to 5-1 with the loss, will get a little breather before returning to host Shenandoah on December 28th in a makeup game, while the (5-1) Cadets will hit the floor today as they take on St. Clairsville at Ban Johnson Arena as part of the Ohio River Classic.

“St. Clairsville is a great program and they have had a lot of success in the past couple of years,” said Henniger of the Red Devils. “They are big and strong and like to run a 100 miles an hour so it should be good game.”

Tip off is scheduled for 5:45.