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Fort Frye stays hot, takes down Shenandoah

Fort Frye’s Braden Medley, left, looks to pass as Shenandoah’s Max McVicker (41) defends during a high school boys basketball game Thursday in Beverly. Fort Frye won, 56-41. (Photo by Josh Hughes)

BEVERLY –The Fort Frye Cadets just keep rolling, but tight defense was needed down the stretch to take down Shenandoah on Thursday night from home, 56-41.

Head coach Eric Henniger’s bunch (11-1) was familiar with the Zeps, as they traveled to Sarahsville on Dec. 11 to take home a 52-44 victory. This time around, Shenandoah matched Fort’s defense stride for stride. Then, the Cadets’ second-half press was just too much.

Kelton Fogle and Nic Hart led the way for the home team, as Fogle led all scorers with 22. Hart followed closely behind with 17 of his own, but Shenandoah had its own duo to worry about with Dayton Hill and Christian Duniver. Duniver led his team with 16, while nine of Hill’s 11 points came from beyond the arc. Hill also collected seven rebounds with Fort’s Braden Medley outpacing him with a game-high eight boards. All of those matched efforts made for a close game at the break, as Hill collected his own rebound to score just before time expired to end the first half. That gave the Zeps a 31-30 advantage, and it gave FFHS something to think about in the locker room. Hart spoke after the game about how coach Henniger’s message at halftime impacted them to step up on defense.

“I think the halftime speech gave us a little bit more encouragement there,” Hart said. “I think we knew that after the first time we played them, we knew we had to come out and win this game defensively, too.”

That’s exactly what happened.

While the Cadets couldn’t cash in on most of their offensive opportunities, the Zeps went ice cold. Fogle scored all seven of Fort’s points, as he opened up the frame with a bucket made with 7:23 left on the clock. Following a few minutes of defensive power, the Zeps finally got on the board at the 4:22 mark with a make by Max McVicker. That was all the visitors could do in the period, as Fogle and company took Henniger’s defensive message to heart.

The fourth quarter was more of the same, but this time, more Cadets got in on the offensive action. Luke Huffman and Brian Adams found the bottom of the net to aide a 19-8 run to end the contest. Offensive hostility for Shenandoah continued, as Hill made the team’s last bucket, a 3-ball, with 3:10 remaining. That make cut Fort Frye’s advantage to 46-41, but a layup by Fogle and drive through the lane by Hart stretch the lead back out with 2:38 to play. The Cadets never looked back, and Henniger liked how his team adjusted, as they look to keep the train rolling against Frontier on Saturday.

“We just tried to turn up the pressure a little bit. I thought we were playing really slow in the first half,” Henniger said of why he adjusted to a fullcourt press. “That was not our game plan, and we wanted to play fast. We made those adjustments on defense, and that was the key. We’ve got a couple guys who can string together six, seven eight points, especially when we’re in fullcourt pressure defense.”

Hart stepped up in the fourth like Fogle did in the previous quarter, as he netted nine of his team’s first 13 points to help put the game away. That included seven in a row in a span of 75 seconds. His scoring display crushed the Zeps, as he carved them up when it mattered most.

“We saw they were overplaying Kelton and me a little bit,” he said. “We tried to get more people involved in the offense, but we also knew those looks would be there.”

At this point in the season, the Division III No. 8 Cadets have a lot to be happy about, but with uncertainty surrounding the season, Hart and his team are handling themselves with a bunch on the line.

“We’ve just got to keep following precautions and doing what we’ve got to do,” he said. “Then, I think we can keep this thing rolling on.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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