Cadets rally late to take down Cougars
NEW MATAMORAS — After falling behind in the opening minutes of the game the visiting Fort Frye Cadets never led again until the final 2.2 seconds in Saturday’s showdown with the Frontier Cougars.
Zane Wallace’s free throw in the closing seconds broke a tie and proved to be the game winner as the Cadets pulled off a thrilling 51-50 victory.
Wallace grabbed the rebound after Luke Huffman’s three-pointer was short and drew a foul to set up the game winner.
After missing the first one, Wallace converted the second before Tanner Bills desperation heave from three quarters court bounced off the rim as the Cadets won for the ninth time in 10 decisions.
Fort Frye trailed by 11 points with five and a half minutes to play before holding the Cougars scoreless the rest of the way while doing just enough on the offensive end to escape with the victory.
“Anytime you can get a win over here on Frontier’s home court it’s a big win,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Henniger. “We had a lot of adversity in this game and it was great to see our kids fight back and get the win.”
From the very beginning the game had the makings of a very special night on the court for the home team.
Senior Logan Brookover scored the Cougars first basket of the game in the opening minute which also was point number 1,000 of his outstanding career.
“He ran the point for us as a freshman and worked his way up through and he is such a great kid,” said Cougar head coach Roger Kirkpatrick of Brookover, who joins his sister Lexi as 1,000 point scorers at Frontier. “He’s a great leader and we wanted this to be a better night for him.”
Frontier led by three at the end of one quarter and out-pointed the Cadets 20-14 in the second to pull out to a nine-point lead (31-22) the break.
Brookover and fellow senior Kyle Daugherty led the way for the Cougars in the opening half by combining for 17 points to offset a 14-point performance by Cadet senior Brady Schilling.
The Cougars extended their lead to double-figures twice in the third quarter including at the 1:25 mark when Daugherty grabbed a rebound and put it back in for a score to give Frontier a 45-34 lead.
A late three-pointer by Huffman trimmed the lead back to seven but once again the Cougars began to pull away in the opening minutes of the final quarter.
A free throw and a field goal by Daugherty and a runner by Brookover pushed the Frontier lead to 50-39 with 5:30 to play and the Cougars appeared to be well on their way to their eighth consecutive victory.
Unfortunately for Kirkpatrick and his team that would be the last points they would score in the game as they went stone cold from both the floor as well as the charity stripe.
Frontier made just 2-of-12 free throws in the game including six misses in the final quarter alone.
“A couple of times we had looks that could have given us a 14 or 15 point lead but when it came down to crunch time we just couldn’t make a shot,” said Kirkpatrick. “I knew at some point missing free throws was going to bite us and it did tonight.”
While the Cougars went ice cold, the Cadets began to heat up.
After a free throw by Schilling cut the lead to 10, Huffman drilled his third triple of the game to trim the margin to seven.
Kelton Fogle came up with a huge steal and his assist to Schilling made it a 50-45 game with 4:39 to play.
Another runner from Schilling followed by a strong bucket by Fogle cut the lead to a single point with 2:15 to go in the game.
Neither team would make a field goal in the closing minutes but Schilling’s freebie with a little more than a minute to play tied the game at 50-50.
Brookover’s attempt at putting the Cougars back in front came up empty and the Cadets secured the rebound to give them the ball back with 37 seconds to play.
Fort Frye allowed the clock to run down to 10 seconds before calling a timeout to set up their final strategy.
Wallace, who played most of the game with a limp after taking a hard charge in the opening half, took care of business at the line at the most opportune time.
“For a long time it felt like we just couldn’t make anything and then we finally caught fire and they started missing some shots,” said Henniger. “We were able to get a lot of hustle plays from our guys and that made a big difference.”
Schilling led the way for the Cadets with 22 points while also leading his team with 11 boards while Fogle, Huffman and Wallace added nine points apiece.
Brookover and Daugherty each completed double-doubles for the Cougars (7-2) as they scored 16 and 14 points respectively while yanking down 10 rebounds apiece.
Bills also reached double figures for the home team with 10 points while Corby Curtis added eight.
The Cadets will host Meigs on Tuesday night while the Cougars travel to River.