Cadets complete epic comeback
Fort Frye rallies to beat Coshocton for sectional title
BEVERLY — It took Fort Frye all of eight minutes to dig themselves a 17-point hole in Friday night’s Division III Sectional final against the visiting Coshocton Redskins.
Incredibly, it took the Cadets just over five minutes to erase the deficit and take the lead as they went on to claim the sectional title with a thrilling 54-51 overtime win.
It’s hard to imagine a worse start for Fort Frye as it missed all 11 of its first-quarter shots as the Redskins jumped out to the 17-0 lead led by junior Gaven Williams and senior Logan Desender.
As a matter of fact, things were going so bad for the Cadets that Coshocton actually opened the second quarter with six men on the court before realizing their error and having one player quietly walk off the court without being penalized.
“It was just unreal,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Henniger of the Cadets sluggish start. “Sometimes when you get a big lead like that a team will tend to relax so we told our guys we have nothing to lose at that point.”
Fort Frye finally got on the board on their first possession of the second quarter on a pair of free throws by Nic Hart.
Hart’s freebies must have somehow loosened the rims for the Cadets as after not buying a bucket in the opening period they couldn’t seem to miss one in the second.
After a free throw by Kameron Brown made it a 16-point Redskin lead, Fort Frye scored 21 consecutive points, connecting on 8-of-11 field goals in the quarter to take a 23-18 lead with just over two minutes to play in the half.
Five of those field goals were 3-pointers, including a pair each by Hart and Zane Greenleaf as the once stunned and quiet Fort Frye home crowd erupted.
“We told them just to get after it and we would see what happens at the end of the game,”said Henniger. “We made a huge run in the second quarter and our defensive effort really picked up. It didn’t hurt that we started making some buckets either.”
The ‘Skins closed out the half with a pair of Desender free throws to cut the Cadet lead to 23-20.
Coshocton could well have buckled under the pressure after blowing the huge early lead but it was their turn to rally in the third quarter as they scored eight consecutive points to take a 33-27 lead with a minute and a half to play in the third.
Fort Frye got a pair of huge 3-pointer in the closing minutes of the third quarter by Hart and senior Luke Nelson to tie the game at 33-33 heading to the final period.
The Cadets threatened to open up a big lead of their own in the final quarter as back-to-back field goals by Greenleaf gave them a five-point lead with six minutes to play.
Williams led all scorers in the game with 25, including a big 3-pointer with under five minutes to play to momentarily tie the game before Greenleaf connected from long range to put the Cadets back in front by three.
From that point on the majority of regulation was spent at the charity stripe with Fort Frye holding a 46-44 lead with 1:19 to play.
Coshocton had a chance to tie with 21 seconds to play but Williams could make just one-of-two free throws while Nelson buried a pair of free throws on the other end to give the Cadets a three-point lead with 13 ticks remaining on the clock.
Williams came through once again for the Redskins as he splashed in a long triple from the right wing to send the game into overtime.
A 3-pointer by Greenleaf gave the Cadets the lead in extended play but none other than Williams would tie things back up at 51-51 with a short jumper with 2:39 to play.
Hart two free throws gave Fort Frye a two-point lead and after Williams finally missed on a game-tying shot attempt, Nelson gave the Cadets three-point lead with five seconds to play by making one-of-two at the stripe.
“You try to get the ball to Luke Nelson, your senior and you expect him to make free throws and he made some big ones tonight,” said Henniger.
Coshocton’s last ditch attempt at sending the game into double-overtime was dashed when Hart intercepted a long toss for his eighth steal of the game to seal the dramatic victory.
Hart and Greenleaf led Fort Frye in scoring with 18 points apiece while Nelson added 11.
In addition to leading the Cadets in points and steals, Hart also pulled down six rebounds and dished out four assists.
“Every single guy that came in played well and did their job and it took everything we had to pull ourselves out of such a big deficit,” said Henniger, whose team improved to 16-7 on the season and will next take on Sugar Creek Garaway in a District Semi-Final on Tuesday night at a site to be determined.
“Hat’s off to Coshocton because they definitely made us earn this win like we knew they would but I am just proud of everybody.”
Desender joined Williams in double figures with 20 points as Coshocton exits the postseason with an 11-13 record after the heart-wrenching defeat.
“Our kids did a great job of battling and Gaven made a great shot their to send the game to overtime,” said Redskin head coach Jeremy Ady. “It was an interesting game and I was proud of our effort and especially of our six seniors.”