Long march home: Cadets walk the plank against Pirates, 48-44
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Fort Frye nearly pulled off a miracle minute.
Down 10, 44-34, with a minute and 14 seconds remaining in Tuesday’s Division III district semifinal game against Garaway at Ohio University Eastern, the Cadets seemed all but eliminated.
They scratched and clawed their way back into it, though, cutting their deficit to 44-41 with 34 seconds left. Devin Brooker’s deep 3-point attempt for the tie went in and out, with the Pirates grabbing the rebound and sinking a pair at the line to stretch their lead to five.
Chandler Lang drained a long trey on the other end with :01.8 left on the clock to bring Fort Frye within two, but Garaway again went 2-for-2 at the line to make it a two possession game and end the Cadets’ season with a 48-44 loss.
Fort Frye appeared out of rhythm from the beginning of the game as Garaway was able to slow things down and control the tempo.
“(Garaway) came in and they did their job,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Henniger. “We didn’t. They beat us in every single part of the game (for) the entire game.”
A pair of 2-point field goals by Garaway’s Sammy Gebhardt and a 3-ball by Fort Frye’s Logan Madison accounted for the only points of the first quarter, as the Cadets trailed 4-3 after eight minutes.
Carter Kiefer opened the second quarter with a triple before back-to-back steals by Lang and Seth Legraen led to a pair of free throws and a dunk, respectively, to put the Cadets ahead 10-4.
Gebhardt and teammate Ty Hamsher scored consecutive baskets to make the score 11-10. Later, a 3-pointer by Corey Yoder put the Pirates on top 13-12. Garaway’s lead would expand to three points, 18-15, at halftime as Gebhardt drilled a baseline jumper just before the horn.
Lang knocked down two 3-pointers in the first 80 seconds of the second half to put the Cadets back on top at 21-20. That ended up being Fort Frye’s final lead of the game, as Joel Henigford answered with two free throws to give Garaway the advantage for good.
Midway through the third quarter, Josh Werker assisted Hunter Yoder on a layup before putting in a basket of his own to make Garaway’s lead five, but Justin Anderson responded with a triple to make it 28-26.
Fort Frye struggled to get a defensive stop in the period as Garaway used efficient shooting and strong offensive rebounding to build its lead to seven, 37-30, going into the final quarter.
Jordan Anderson and Madison each hit deuces in the first two minutes of the quarter, but Garaway had an answer for just about everything, pulling ahead 43-34 at the 5:06 mark.
Defense then took over as neither team scored for almost four minutes. A free throw by Hamsher made it a 10-point game with 1:14 left in the game, when Fort Frye began to rally.
Madison connected on a 3-ball to cut it to 44-37. On Garaway’s ensuing possession, Kiefer stole the ball and dished off to Lang, who found Legraen for a transition layup to make it a 5-point game with 50 seconds left.
Hamsher was then fouled but missed a pair of shots at the line, setting Madison’s drive and finish at the basket to cut the Pirates’ lead to 44-41.
Garaway tried to heave a pass down the court on the ensuing inbound play, but it was intercepted by Kiefer. That led to Brooker getting an open look from several steps beyond the arch, but his try went halfway down before rimming out and falling into the hands of the Pirates.
Gebhardt was fouled and made both free throws to make it 46-41, but Lang knocked down a desperation 3 with just under two seconds left in the game. Corey Yoder received the inbound pass and was fouled, making both free throws to send the Pirates to Friday’s district final game against Martins Ferry.
Garaway’s patience on offense paid dividends for most of the game, as it went 16-for-28 (57.1 percent) from the floor. It also seemed to frustrate the Cadets.
“That was our goal to try and disrupt them somehow and get them out of rhythm,” said Garaway head coach Dave Shutt. “From what we’ve seen they’re really good in transition and we wanted to negate that. That’s why we zoned them up a little bit to slow them down.”
Fort Frye’s offense never got hot until the final minute of the game as the Cadets shot just 31.8 percent (14-for-44).
“We were supposed to be getting the ball out and running,” Henniger said. “But instead, we were taking the ball out of bounds and we were walking. Just walking to our places and letting the defense set up. With Garaway, if you let their defense set up, they’re gonna determine how the game is played.”
Gebhardt topped the Pirates with 12 points while Henigford added 10 and Werker tallied eight.
“We got a little helter skelter there at the end but we persevered and came through,” Shutt said.
“To survive and move on, at this point, that’s all that matters.”
Lang led Fort Frye with 16 points with Madison adding 14. Legraen, who came in averaging 17.4 points per game, was held to just four markers in the contest.
“It came down to the zone they ran,” Henniger said. “It was hard for (Legraen) to attack the hoop like he normally does. Other people have got to step up.”
Fort Frye closed the 2013-14 campaign with a 21-4 record.
“A great season with a great group of kids, too,” Henniger said. “I’m proud of everything they did. They worked their tails off and they deserved all the success that they got. Just wish it could have went a little further.”