Prep boys basketball: Smith’s 26 leads Fort Frye to a 69-39 win over Frontier

NEW MATAMORAS- Shon Smith finished off an impressive week by tossing in 26 points Friday night to lead the Fort Frye Cadets to a run away 69-39 Pioneer Valley Conference victory over the Frontier Cougars at Hank Morus Gymnasium.

Smith, who earlier in the week scored 37 points in a loss to Warren, connected on 12-of-16 field goal attempts in a game where he was on the court for less than three quarters of action.

“He (Smith) ended the game shooting very well against Warren and he kind of just picked it up from there,” said first-year Cadet head coach Eric Henniger. “He did a really good job of attacking the basket instead of just settling for jump shots.”

The Cadets wasted little time grabbing the early advantage as they led the Cougars 18-5 at the end of the first period.

Smith scored 12 points in the opening quarter and added four more in the opening minutes of the second quarter to push the Fort lead to 24-5.

Taylor Merckle snapped a 9-0 Cadet run with an old fashioned three-point play.

That bucket seemed to light a fire under the Cougars as they went on a 9-0 run sparked by five points by junior guard Drew Schneider to close the lead to 24-14.

Chandler Lang connected on a short jumper to send the lead back to 12 and moments later Caden Brooker turned a steal into a three-point play and a 29-14 Fort Frye lead.

The Cougars got a lift off of the bench from Rodney Barnes, who connected on back-to-back three balls to close the Cadet lead to 33-20 with a little more than two minutes to play in the first half.

That would prove to be the last time the Cougars would come within 15 points of Fort Frye as Jordan Anderson’s triple and consecutive scores by Tyler Norris and Brooker sent the Cadets to intermission with a comfortable 40-22 lead.

Barnes got the second half scoring underway with a deuce for Frontier, but the Cadets answered with yet another 9-0 run to send the lead to 25 at 49-24.

Barnes came up with a steal and a bucket at the other end and Schneider followed with a jumper to cut the lead to 21, but the Cadets answered with a 16-0 run to put the exclamation point on their 10th victory in their last 11 games.

“We really came out strong tonight from the get-go,” said Henniger of his Cadets. “Once we got our energy going we just kind of built on from there.”

The seven seniors on the Cougar roster were honored before the game along with Frontier cheerleaders and girls basketball team, and head coach Roger Kirkpatrick had five of them in the starting lineup.

Seniors’ Jay Eddy, Dusty Wright, Cole Farley, Merckle, and Josh Kirkbride all saw considerable playing time for Frontier on their final home, while Dylan O’Neal and Jordan Jefferson were also recognized but missed the game due to injury. “These kids go through a program and put a lot of effort into it,” said Kirkpatrick of his senior class. “They deserve the recognition and they are going to be missed.”

Barnes and Schneider led the scoring for the Cougars with 12 and 10 points respectively, while Wright drilled a pair of late three-pointers to finish with 6.

Joining Smith in double figures for the Cadets was Lang with 12. Both teams will find out their seeding and first round opponent in the state tournament on Sunday. The Cadets improved to 12-6 on the season and 9-3 in PVC play, while the Cougars slipped to 4-14 on the season and just 1-10 in conference play.

The Cougars hit the road Saturday as they travel to Bridgeport, while Fort Frye will host Union Local Tuesday evening in an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference consolation game on Tuesday night.