Cadets win: Smith’s 25 sparks Fort in triumph over Warriors

BEVERLY – When one high school basketball team falls behind another by 14 points in the opening quarter, a 13-point final decision should come as no surprise.

The surprise comes when the team that is behind by 14 is the one that ends up with the win.

Such was the case Friday night as the Fort Frye Cadets trailed 22-8 in the opening quarter, before rallying to defeat the visiting Buckeye Trail Warriors 59-46 in a Pioneer Valley Conference tilt.

Shon Smith scored nine consecutive points in the second quarter to spark an 18-2 Fort Frye run that brought the Cadets all the way back from the 14- point deficit in just a little longer than six minutes.

“Our players did a great job bouncing back tonight,” said first-year Cadet head coach Eric Henniger. “They fought hard to get back in the game and I’m proud of their effort.”

The Cadets may have thought it was the Warriors of Golden State that they were up against instead of the ones from Lore City as Buckeye Trail drilled no less than six three-pointers in the game’s first eight minutes, including four from senior Zach Roe, to take a 22-8 advantage.

The Cadets got a three ball of their own courtesy of Chandler Lang to close out the first quarter and set up what would turn out to be the pivotal second period.

Non-starter Dominic Omspach got the second quarter going for the Fort with a jumper from the top of the key and when Caden Brooker made one-of-two free throws, the lead was down to eight at 22-14.

The next few minutes belonged to Smith as the 5-foot-11 senior showed his ability to score from anywhere on the hardwood.

A beautiful drive to the basket with the left hand and a long three-pointer trimmeded the lead to just three, before Smith scored again off of a play that he started with a diving rebound to reduce the Trail deficit to 22-21.

Moments later, Smith connected on a short jumper and just like that the Cadets had rallied all the way back to take a 23-22 lead.

“That’s what good players and leaders like Shon do,” said Henniger. “They take over a game when you need it and Shon did so tonight.”

Roe briefly put Trail back in front with a driving layup of his own, but the Cadets got a steal from Tyler Norris that resulted in an Omspach triple to close out the half with the red, white and blue in front 26-24.

Henniger had high praise for the play he got off the bench from both Norris and Omspach.

“Both of those guys have really been practicing well,” said Henniger. “Tyler (Norris) gave us a lot of energy and Dominic (Omspach) gave us some great minutes too.”

The Cadets threatened to pull away in the third quarter when sophomore Seth Lagraen brought the Cadet faithful to their feet with a steal and a slam dunk on the other end to push the lead to 34-28.

Trail cut the lead back to two at the end of the third quarter, but an 11-4 Cadet run sparked by six points in a row from Lagraen put things away for good.

Smith scored a game high 25 points and also pulled down a team-leading eight rebounds for the Fort, while Lagraen chipped in with 14 points.

“After the first quarter our defense really stepped it up tonight,” said Smith of the Cadet defense that allowed just 24 Warrior points after the opening period. “I think we just stepped up big tonight and started playing the way we know we can play.”

Roe ended the night with 15 points to pace the Warriors, while Lane Starr, Tyler Starr, and Josh Toland all contributed eight points apiece.

The win was a payback of sorts for the Cadets as they dropped a 69-63 decision earlier in the season to Buckeye Trail at Lore City.

The win improved the Cadets season mark to 3-5 and 2-3 in the PVC, while Trail slipped to 3-2 in conference play and 4-3 overall.

The Cadets return to action tonight as they host the arch-rival Waterford Wildcats in the Battle of the Muskingum River.