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Belpre girls fall to Frontier, 44-23

Belpre’s Curstin Giffin, right, handles the ball as Frontier’s Jamison Schmidt (10) defends during a high school girls basketball game Thursday at Hank Morus Gymnasium. Frontier won, 44-23. Photo by Mike Morrison

NEW MATAMORAS — Frontier has devoted their focus in practice of late to the defensive end of the court.

That hard work paid off in a big way Thursday evening for the youthful Cougars as they limited visiting Belpre to just seven field goals as they rolled to a 44-23 win to notch their first victory of the season.

Frontier allowed Belpre to reach double figures in only the opening quarter while limiting them to a grand total of six points after the intermission.

“We really worked hard defensively on trying to limit their scorers and denying them the basketball, said Cougar head coach Mike Cisler. “I thought our girls did a very good job defensivley tonight.”

Early on it didn’t look like it would be a defensive struggle at all as Belpre senior Curstin Giffin knocked down back-to-back triples to give the visitors an 8-4 lead.

Frontier cut the lead back to two on one of three first quarter field goals by Kylie Lamm but Belpre sophomore Kaitlen Bush answered from long range to give Belpre an 11-6 lead.

The Cougars came roaring back to tie the score on field goals by Lamm and freshman Grace Knowlton along with a free throw by senior Logan Haught before Belpre got a freebie by Giffin to take a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Belpre played much of the first half without junior post player Halee Williams who got into early foul trouble while Cougar sophomore Tacey Kirkpatrick was forced to sit much of the second quarter when she drew her third personal.

Giffin extended the Belpre lead to three by opening the second quarter with a deuce but Kirkpatrick quickly tied things up for the home team with a triple.

Two more free throws by Giffin pushed the visitors back in front but a 9-0 Cougar run sparked by five points by Knowlton put the Cougars back in front for good.

Cisler was pleased with the effort Knowlton gave his team in only her fourth game at the varsity level.

“I thought our freshman (Knowlton) played very well for us and that was big,” said Cisler of Knowlton, who scored seven points, grabbed a team-high eight rebounds while dishing out four assists. “We are still a very young team and it was great to see everyone get involved in getting our first win.”

The Cougars picked up right where they left off to open the second half as Kirkpatrick and fellow sophomore Kara Ramsey both hit three-pointers to give them their first double-digit lead of the game.

Jalynn Shapley and Haught followed with field goals as the Frontier lead swelled to 13 at the end of three quarters.

Frontier honored Haught, their lone senior before the game, and fittingly she would open the final quarter with a triple as the Cougars continued to add to their lead.

The Cougars shot a very respectable 45 percent (19-42) from the floor while out-rebounding Belpre by a 33-25 margin.

“We were finally able to hit some shots tonight and when you can do that it takes a little pressure off,” said Cisler, whose team improved to 1-3 with the win.

Ramsey and Kirkpatrick led the winners with 11 and 10 points respectively while Haught added eight points and seven rebounds.

Giffin scored 14 of her teams 23 points while sophomore Jaylynn Wright led them in rebounds with seven and steals with three.

Belpre head coach Chris Murray was somewhat disappointed in his team’s effort as they slipped to 5-7 with the loss.

“That’s probably the lowest amount of effort I’ve seen us play with and honestly a lot of that is attributed to how Frontier played us,” said Murray. “We missed some shots early and then on defense weren’t getting out on their shooters and we got behind.”

Frontier jumps right back in action tonight when they travel to Zanesville to take on Bishop Rosecrans while Belpre will play their third straight road game Monday night when they travel to Meigs.

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