Cadets overcome Caldwell’s wild shooting night

MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times Fort Frye’s Nic Hart, left, drives to the basket as Caldwell’s Clark Jennings (12) contests during a high school boys basketball game Friday in Caldwell.

CALDWELL — The late Jerry Reed once had a classic novelty hit on the country music charts entitled “When You’re Hot You’re Hot (When You’re Not You’re Not).”

Unfortunately for head coach Clint Crane and his Caldwell Redskins, that song could have served as their theme song Friday night after blowing a 15-point first-half lead and eventually falling at home 54-50 to the Fort Frye Cadets.

Caldwell made an incredible eight straight 3-point shots in the first half to open up the big lead before going scoreless in the third quarter to allow the Cadets to climb back into the ballgame.

“Is that what it was, eight? I lost track after six,” joked Fort Frye head coach Eric Henniger when told how many 3-pointers the Redskins made in a row. “We knew they were a very good 3-point shooting team and they went off right from the beginning. We were trying to press them a little bit and that was a mistake because we were scrambling and leaving open shots and they were knocking them down.”

Lucas King, Logan Heller, Clark Jennings and Tanner DeVolld each knocked down a 3-ball in the opening quarter to stake the Redskins to a 19-13 lead and the barrage continued early in the second quarter when Heller drilled back-to-back triples to extend the lead to 14.

After a pair of free throws by Nic Hart cut the lead to 12, Caldwell got a free throw by Robbie Cool and a field goal by Zeke Liston to push the lead to a game-high 15.

Fort Frye got a long distance answer when Devin Layton splashed in a trey but right on cue King connected for the second time in the half to push the lead to 33-18.

The Cadets got a pair of late first half field goals by Brady Schilling to cut the lead to 13 at the break (35-22).

Caldwell shot a blistering 71 percent (12-17) in the opening half and appeared to be primed to pull off the upset against their Pioneer Valley Conference rivals.

“We kind of go as we shoot the ball and we were defending well and got out to a big lead,” said Caldwell head coach Clint Crane. “We were defending at a high level and spending a lot of energy and those long shots started coming up short in the second half.”

Fort Frye elected to slow the pace of the game down in the second half and that strategy worked as the once white-hot ‘Skins went as cold as ice as they missed all eight of their third quarter field goals attempts while turning the ball over seven times.

“We had to make an adjustment and quit pressuring them because they were killing us,” said Henniger. “Our guys really locked down on defense.”

The Cadet offense managed to score just 11 points of their own in the third but that was good enough to trim the once large Caldwell lead down to just two heading to the final quarter.

The Redskins finally scored their first points of the second half when Heller scored a bucket off an assist from Jennings with 6:20 to play to push the lead to four before the Cadets got back-to-back 3-pointers by Luke Nelson to take their first lead of the game at 39-37.

A pair of freebies by freshman Jett Lori tied things back up before Nelson knocked down a short jumper to put the Cadets in front for good.

Nelson scored all 10 of his points in the final quarter.

“Luke was feeling it a little bit and we were trying to get him the ball,”said Henniger of Nelson. “His only problem is sometimes he is too unselfish and passes up a lot of shots that he should take.”

A 3-pointer by Kelton Fogle opened the Cadet lead to five and the Fort made seven-of -10 from the free throw line down the stretch to hang on for the win.

Jennings knocked down his third triple of the game with less than 10 seconds to go to pull Caldwell back to with-in two but Nelson sealed the deal by converting a pair of free throws.

Fort Frye remained undefeated in the PVC (4-0) while pushing their season mark to 7-4.

Joining Nelson in double figures were Hart and Schilling with 12 points apiece.

“Any win is a huge win but especially here against Caldwell in a place where we seem to struggle,” said Henniger. “Give a lot of credit to Coach Crane and Caldwell. They are a great group of kids and it’s always a tough contest with them.”

Caldwell, which slipped to 5-5 overall and 2-2 in conference play, were led by Jennings with 17 while Heller chipped in with 11.

“We’ve got to find a way to score at the rim a little more and get to the foul line because we don’t have that true post presence,” said Crane, whose squad shot just 3-for-18 in the second half.

“Credit to Fort Frye because they always play great team defense.”

Both teams will return to action Tuesday as Caldwell travels to Barnesville while the Cadets visit arch-rival Waterford.