Prep boys basketball: Cadets thump Cougars 54-31

BEVERLY – Technically speaking, a standard high school basketball rim is 18 inches in diameter and 56.55 inches around.

By the same token, a standard basketball is 9.39 inches in diameter 29.5 inches around.

So the ball fits inside the hoop, right?

Well…not always.

The Fort Frye Cadets held the visiting Frontier Cougars scoreless for the entire first quarter and to just 3-of-16 from the field in the first half as the Cadets rolled out to a 54-31 victory in Beverly Friday night.

“Our defense came to play tonight,” said Fort Frye boys’ basketball coach Eric Henniger. “We’ve had two straight great defensive games.”

As good as the Cadet defense played, the Cougars couldn’t help their cause as they missed countless shots in the paint and were just 5-of-22 from beyond the arc, where they tend to make a living on the scoreboard.

“We stopped their three shooting,” said Fort Frye junior Seth Legraen, who had 19 points and 13 rebounds, which was one more board than Frontier had as a team. “That was our game plan, get them off the three point line and make them drive.”

When the Cougars did take the ball inside they couldn’t find the bucket as shot after shot rolled out.

And by the time Frontier finally did put the ball through that little orange hoop one quarter had come and gone and the outcome was all but decided.

“The first quarter killed us, 10-0 run. We couldn’t hit a shot,” said Frontier boys’ basketball coach Roger Kirkpatrick.

The Cadets got the game rolling with putback baskets from Chandler Lang and Legraen, but managed just 10 points of their own in the first eight minutes against a Frontier team that sought to dictate the tempo and slow down the Fort Frye offense.

“The first half they really tried to slow down the game,” Legraen said. “We waited and we were patient.”

Frontier’s first possession of the game lasted over 1:35, but didn’t result in a shot against the Cadet defense, which created nearly as many turnovers (six) as it allowed shots (seven) in the opening eight minutes.

After going scoreless through the whole first quarter, the Cougars connected on a three-pointer from Drew Schneider just 12 seconds into the second period to get on the board.

Fort Frye promptly answered that basket with an 8-0 run to push the lead to 15 by the midway point of the second quarter and the Cadets took a 17-point advantage, 25-8, into halftime. At halftime, the Cougars had hit just 3-of-16 shots from the field opposed to the Cadets 9-for-20. Fort Frye also held an impressive 20-3 advantage on the glass as the Cadets capitalized on their size advantage.

Of Fort Frye’s 38 rebounds on the night, 12 of them were on the offensive end, including seven by Legraen. The offensive boards resulted in frequent trips to the free throw line for Fort Frye as well, as 16 of the Cadets’ 28 charity tosses were earned after collecting offensive rebounds.

“We missed quite a few (of the free throws), but we’ve got to keep hustling after those rebounds,” Legraen said.

Down by double figures at the break, the Cougars’ offense sparked to life in the third quarter, which proved to be the only time in the game Frontier outscored Fort Frye in a stanza.

Damon Matheney hit a three-pointer off Schneider’s assist to start the run, and back-to-back buckets from Dylan Absher prompted a timeout from the Cadets, who saw their nearly 20 point margin cut down to 11, 26-15.

“I thought we fought back in the second half,” Kirkpatrick said. “Against good teams, every possession is key. We cut it (lead) to 12 twice and couldn’t get it to single digits.”

Fort Frye was able to stop the bleeding, as the Cadets would score eight of the final 13 points in the quarter to lead 35-20 going into the fourth.

Schneider’s bucket in the lane off a Matheney assist to start the fourth proved to be the last time the Cadet lead would dip below 15 points. Legraen’s free throw with 3:20 in regulation pushed the margin back over 20, and Tyson Niceswanger’s basket with 21 ticks on the clock gave the Cadets their largest lead and set the final score at 54-31.

Frontier fell to 6-8 on the season. With the win the Cadets are now 9-2 on the season, with their only losses coming to powerhouse Warren and a Pioneer Valley Conference loss to Buckeye Trail in Lore City.

“The boys are playing well. I’ve got good kids that know basketball,” Henniger said.