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Fort Frye hangs strong with Wheeling Park

By CODY TOMER

WHEELING, W.Va. — If there was one area Wheeling Park girls basketball coach Ryan Young wanted to see his team improve on, it’s limiting turnovers.

Following 10 first half giveaways on Friday and 25 in the previous game, Young told his team at halftime he wanted to see them take care of the ball better in the second half. They obliged.

The Patriots turned the ball over just once in the third quarter and pulled away from a previously unbeaten Fort Frye (4-1) team to a tune of 44-31 in the opening game of the Third Annual Sam Andy Basketball Classic inside WesBanco Arena.

“We talked about it at halftime,” Young said. “We had 10 turnovers in the first half and probably 10 unforced turnovers. We’re just killing ourselves but I think the kids really came out and handled the ball better and handled it at the end of the game when we were trying to run the clock.

“So, for the most part I’m happy with our effort in the second half.”

After the Cadets pocketed the first basket of the second half to pull even at 16-16, Wheeling Park (5-0) reeled off 13 unanswered points — sparked by eight points and a pair of conventional three-point plays from Bella Abernathy — to secure a 29-16 advantage and a 31-18 cushion heading into the fourth and it didn’t look back.

The triumph comes just two days after taking down W. Va. Class AAA’s top-ranked Parkersburg on Wednesday.

“We knew Fort Frye was a tough, gritty team,” Young said. “They like to possess the ball for long stretches and put the scores down in the 30’s and 40’s and that’s kind of how it went.

“We made plays when we needed to and played a lot better as the second half went on. In the first half we did not play well but you kind of expect that — a little letdown after a big game on Wednesday but we did enough to pull this one out in the end. Fort Frye is a good team.”

In all, the Patriots outscored the Cadets 15-4 in the third stanza.

“We had a bad third quarter and that’s always a key quarter,” Fort Frye coach Dan Liedtke said. “That’s a weakness we had last year. We’ve been really focusing on third quarter play but we were just very inconsistent in the third. We missed too many shots.

“We haven’t shot the ball well yet as a team and when you’re going against a team like Wheeling Park, you have to perform. You have to step up but we’ll get back at it. We want to get to a level to be able to beat a team like this and get ready for postseason. It gives us things to work on.”

Park raced out to an 11-5 lead after one but saw it dwindle to 16-14 at the intermission behind five second quarter points from Hannah Archer.

Archer led Fort Frye with 10 points, followed by Olivia Schneider and Kenzie Dalton with eight each.

Abernathy paced the Patriots with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Lindsey Garrison drained a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 14 and Shanley Woods tallied two treys and scored eight points.

“We knew they didn’t have a kid who could guard Bella,” Young said. “So, that was definitely the game plan coming in — give her the ball. They did a good job of collapsing on her but she is just so strong that even when she missed she was able to collect the rebound and put it back in.

“Our guards were able to get her the ball inside, too. Shanley didn’t take a lot of shots but I think she understands that she has other players on her team that can score. It’s an unselfish group and as long as we continue to share the basketball, we don’t care who scores as long as we are winning the game.”

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