Fort Frye overcomes rust, tops Barnesville in sectional semi
BEVERLY — No. 1 seeded Fort Frye simply did not play anywhere close to as well as they are capable of playing in their Division III sectional semifinal against 16th seeded Barnesville Tuesday night at Fort Frye High School.
Fortunately, the Cadets played well enough to win as they scored a hard-fought 47-36 win over the Shamrocks to advance to the sectional final at home on Friday night.
The Cadets had played just three times in the month of February and were playing their first game in 12 days due to the continued pandemic as well as the recent inclement weather.
“We haven’t played in a while and that does affect you and we came out a little sluggish tonight,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Henniger. “It was a real challenge and it turned out to be a good wake-up call that we needed.”
Early on it would be the visitors with the hot hand as senior point guard Evan Hudson knocked down three triples in the first eight minutes to lead the Shamrocks to an 11-10 lead.
Hudson struck again from long range to give Barnesville a four-point lead before the Cadets scored eight straight points to capture their own four-point lead early in the second period.
Senior Nic Hart and junior Casey Brooker sparked the 8-0 Fort Frye run with consecutive three-point plays.
The Cadets managed to build their lead to seven thanks to late field goals from Hart and fellow senior Kelton Fogle, but Barnesville closed out the half with a triple from junior guard Kason Powell to trim the lead to four at the intermission.
“It was on the scouting report that the Hudson kid could shoot the lights out of the basketball and we just weren’t finding him in time,” said Henniger. “I thought Barnesville did a good job of handling our pressure and then getting open after that.”
The Cadets continued to struggle on the offensive end in the third quarter as they scored just seven points, but their typically strong defense limited the Shamrocks to four and the Cadets carried a seven-point lead into the final eight minutes of play.
Barnesville got buckets from Colton Hines and Jeremy Hunkler to close the lead to four before the Cadet senior class took over when they needed to the most.
Senior Luke Huffman’s layup off of an assist from Fogle increased the lead to six but the ‘Rocks answered when Hines came up with a steal and finish at the other end.
Hart got those two points back for the home team with a strong drive to the bucket with a left-handed finish and seconds later he scored once again off of an inbound pass from Fogle.
The Cadets may have put things away for good on the next possession as Fogle and Hart forced a Barnesville turnover near midcourt and capitalized in transition when Hart fed sophomore Owen Brown with a behind-the-back pass to give them their very first double-digit lead.
To make matters worse for the Shamrocks, head coach Johnny Hines was charged with a technical foul and Hart made both freebies to push the Cadet lead to 44-32 with less than three minutes to play in the game.
“It’s nice to have players like Nic (Hart) and our other seniors that can do that at the end of the game,” said Henniger. “When your offensive is struggling a little bit, you can go to someone and tell them you need them to make a play and we have got several guys on this team that can do that.”
Fort Frye managed to push the lead to as many as 15 before Barnesville closed out the game with field goals by Jake Edwards and Powell.
Hart led the way for the Cadets with 16 points and 11 rebounds while also dishing out three assists and being credited with four steals.
Huffman reached double figures with 10 while Fogle added nine for Fort Frye as they improved to 17-2 on the season.
Barnesville was led by Hudson with 15, all coming from behind the arc, while Powell added nine points and a team-high seven boards.
The Shamrock’s season comes to a close with a 4-14 record while the Fort advances to the sectional final at home on Friday night against Sandy Valley, which downed Buckeye Local 40-37 Tuesday night.
“We’ve got to watch them a time of two already and we know they are a very talented team,” said Henniger of Sandy Valley. “They have got some guys that can really play, and we are going to have to play a lot better than we did tonight to get a win.”