Big second half lifts Frontier past Cameron in OVAC 1A semifinal
NEW MATAMORAS — One of Frontier’s goals coming into this season was to bring home an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship.
The Cougars are one win away from making it happen after defeating Cameron 54-47 in an OVAC Class 1A semifinal Tuesday at Hank Morus Gymnasium.
Frontier (13-7) got 23 points and eight rebounds from Logan Brookover. Tanner Bills added 16 points, five boards, four assists and four steals while Kyle Daugherty finished with nine points and seven caroms. Breckin Hoff chipped in six points and eight rebounds.
“This is a big deal to us,” said Frontier head coach Roger Kirkpatrick. “This is what we’ve worked for. One of our goals is to win the OVAC. We’ve got a chance Saturday at 2 o’clock to reach one of our goals.”
The Cougars will take on Madonna at Ohio University Eastern. They’ll hope to get off to a better start against the Blue Dons than they did against the Dragons Tuesday.
Cameron (10-8) never trailed in the first half and held a 28-23 halftime lead.
“We didn’t come ready to play first half,” Kirkpatrick said. “Credit to (Cameron) for coming ready to play and making shots.
“I told our kids, ‘We didn’t work this hard and come this far to let an opportunity slide by.’ I thought we picked it up in the second half.”
Frontier trimmed it to one, 30-29, on a basket by Bills, but Cameron answered with a 3 by Noah Neely and a layup by Trevor Beresford to go back up six, 35-29, with 4:38 left in the third.
That’s when Frontier turned it up a notch.
An 8-0 run, with six points coming from Brookover, gave Frontier its first lead of the game at 37-35 at the 1:32 mark in the third. Cole Burkett, who led the Dragons with 15 points, tied it back up with a basket but Brookover scored again to make it 39-37 after three.
“I give the Brookover boy credit,” said Cameron head coach Tom Hart. “We tried to deny him as much we could, but they got some key rebounds and got into transition, and once Brookover gets into the open court he’s hard to stop.”
Burkett’s basket got Cameron back within one early in the fourth, but Bills answered with a layup before assisting Brookover on a bucket to make it 44-39. Zane Clutter, who finished with eight points, hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four points, with 3:06 remaining, but Brookover and Hoff each nailed a pair of free-throws to make it 50-42 with a minute to go. A three-point play and another basket by Burkett trimmed it to 51-47 with 23 seconds left to give Cameron a glimmer of hope, but Frontier iced it from there.
A defensive adjustment by the Cougars proved to be key.
“They switched to a 2-3 zone and we started settling for shots,” Hart noted. “We quit attacking the basket and the gaps and started settling for jump shots. First half, we knocked a few of those down and forced them from zone back into man. When they switched back to that zone, we didn’t hit those shots but we started settling for them. I give Roger and his team credit. He’s got a nice ballclub. We want to wish him and his team best of luck on Saturday.”
Trevor Beresford added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Dragons, who had to fight their way into the OVAC tournament.
“We had our backs against the wall,” Hart said. “We weren’t even in the top four for OVACs. Then we won four in a row and our game last Tuesday put us in. We knew this was going to be a tough environment to play in.
“The effort was there. Our kids played hard and played aggressive. We just went cold there in that spurt in the third quarter.”
Jessop Broughton netted six points and a game-high nine boards.
Kirkpatrick’s team will turn its attention to Madonna, which edged Hundred 63-60 Saturday.
“Not one of our better games, but I’d rather be standing here disappointed about a win than a loss,” Kirkpatrick said.