Morgan Borich’s 3 off the mark as Fort falls late

Photo by Mike Morrison Fort Frye’s Kenzie Dalton maneuvers the ball around the perimeter while guarded by a Bellaire player during the Big Red’s 36-34 win over the Cadets Saturday in the OVAC 3A title game.

BELMONT– After playing from behind for much of Saturday’s Ohio Valley Athletic Conference 3-A championship game against Bellaire at Ohio Valley University Eastern, the Fort Frye Cadets found themselves with the opportunity to tie or win the game in the closing seconds.

Unfortunately for The Fort, Morgan Borich’s 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded was just off the mark and Bellaire claimed the title with a 36-34 victory.

The Cadets trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half only to rally to make it a one possession game before succumbing to the Big Red.

“I am very pleased with our group. Bellaire is a very senior-oriented team that has played together for a long time and we could have very well won today,” said Fort Frye head coach Dan Liedtke. “We made a couple of mistakes here or there that cost us but we clawed our way back into it and I knew this team would.”

Bellaire started three seniors in the game while the Cadets took the court with three sophomores and the Big Red jumped out to an early 13-4 lead thanks in part to eight first-quarter points by senior Maci Crozier.

The Cadets got a pair of free throws each by Hannah Archer and Karlee Ross to close out the first quarter and then cut the lead to just one to open the second on field goals by Ross and Borich.

A 3-pointer by Natalie Stoner briefly halted the Cadet run before offensive rebounds that resulted in put-back buckets by Borich and Kiersten Kesselring knotted the game at 16-16.

Once again Fort Frye got a huge lift off the bench by freshman Kenzie Dalton who came up with a steal and basket at the other end for the first Cadet lead of the half but Bellaire got five points by junior Katrina Davis in the closing minutes of the half to take a 21-18 lead into the intermission.

Remarkably the Cadets were able to close the lead in the second quarter against a Bellaire defense that forced them into 11 turnovers.

“We knew their defense was going to be tough but in all honesty we needed that to get ready for what’s coming up,” said Liedtke. “We need that kind of pressure on us and we’ve been working hard in practice but we had some mishaps there that really shouldn’t happen.”

Bellaire extended their run into the third quarter as Crozier opened the third quarter with a short jumper before Davis drained a triple and a pair of freebies to give the Big Red their first double-digit lead of the game.

A pair of free throws by FF sophomore Olivia Schneider snapped the Bellaire run and after yet another two-pointer by Davis, Dalton’s field goal on a great pass from Schneider cut the lead to eight heading to the final eight minutes of action.

The Cadets continued to cut into the Bellaire lead when Hannah Archer splashed in 3-pointer to open the final quarter and Ross followed with a deuce to trim the lead to 30-27.

Bellaire got a huge bucket by Michaela Flaherty and Crozier scored a pair as well off of an offensive rebound to push the lead back to seven with four minutes to play.

Archer’s two free throws and another Borich field goal trimmed the lead to three but once again Flaherty answered as the lead swelled back to five.

The Cadets got a huge lift when Archer knocked down her second triple of the quarter to make it a one possession game with less than a minute to go.

With time winding down the Cadets were forced to foul Davis with 11 seconds to play despite the fact that she had convereted all six of her previous free throws in the game.

Davis promptly missed the first half of the one-in-one and Dalton came out of the scrum for the rebound with the ball for the Cadets.

Dalton’s attempt at a game-tying lay-up was foiled when Davis caught up to her from behind and knocked the ball out of bounds.

That gave the Fort one last shot at a miracle finish as they in-bounded the ball from under the basket with three seconds left on the clock.

Borich caught the inbound pass and was able to get a decent look at the basket from behind the 3-point line but her shot bounced off of the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

“Games like this are how you get better,” said Liedtke, whose team slipped to 17-3 with the loss. “We had the opportunity and although you hate the loss I am satisfied with our effort.”

Davis was named the John Howell Memorial MVP after scoring a game high 17 points while Crozier added 12 for the 18-2 Big Reds.

Archer and Borich led the way for Fort Frye with 10 and eight points respectively.

The Cadets will travel to John Marshall on Wednesday.