Prep girls basketball: Fort ‘on cloud 9’

LOGAN – After Fort Frye defeated Johnstown-Monroe, 58-43, in a Division III regional girls basketball final at Logan Saturday to clinch a state tournament berth, Brooke Borich experienced a gamut of emotions.

“It’s so exciting that I can’t contain it right now,” said the 5-foot-6 Lady Cadet junior floor leader, who finished with eight points in the game.

“I’ve been crying, laughing, smiling, everything you can think of,” Borich continued. “That’s what I’m feeling. That’s what we’re all feeling.”

With their program-best 25th victory of the season, Fort Frye (25-3) advances and will be making their first Final 4 appearance at state at the Value City Arena, Jerome Schottenstein Center, on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus. At 1 p.m. Thursday, the Lady Cadets are scheduled to tip off against Columbus Africentric (21-5), which defeated Archbold, 60-42, in a Lexington regional title tilt Saturday.

“I’m just so happy for these girls,” said veteran FFHS head coach Dan Liedtke. “This group’s worked really hard, and this was one of their big goals to get to state.”

Morgan Liedtke paced the winners from Beverly with 16 points. Taylor Buchanan added 11, Micayla Hupp netted 10, and Deidra Combs had eight.

“That’s one of the things about our team, we can all score,” Buchanan said. “And I think that works in our favor.”

Johnstown exits with a 23-4 record. The Johnnies were led by Paige Cannon, who tallied a game-high 24 points.

The Fort never trailed in the game, and sparked by Morgan Liedtke’s seven first-quarter points staked itself to a 17-9 advantage. Liedtke’s triple late in the stanza gave the Lady Cadets their first double-digit lead, 17-7.

“I felt it (having the hot hand),” Morgan Liedtke said. “But as a team, I thought we all shot well. We played well.”

Early in the second quarter, Buchanan made two straight buckets, and Liedtke converted one of two from the foul line to stretch Fort’s lead to 13 points (22-9).

But then Johnstown went into a fullcourt, trapping press, and slowly whittled away at the lead. Closing out the second with a 15-6 run, the Johnnies trailed 30-26 at the intermission.

“They (Johnstown) went after it,” said Dan Liedtke of the press. “We lost our composure a little bit, something these girls don’t normally do. Then, we were taking shots that we shouldn’t have been taking.”

At halftime, Fort Frye adjusted, and was ready for Johnstown in the second half.

“We calmed back down, and kind of got a new plan,” Buchanan said. “I moved up on the press, and other people went to different spots. We got it back under control.”

Johnstown got the first points, though, at the start of the third quarter on Makenzie Spang’s bucket. That reduced the deficit to two.

But Morgan Liedtke answered with a three-ball to give the Lady Cadets a five-point cushion. Then, Hupp got red hot, scoring three baskets to make it 39-32.

“I learned that baseline shot from my dad,” said Hupp, smiling. “That’s what happens when you’re out back trying to shoot over a 6-3 guy.”

By the end of the third, Fort’s lead, thanks to Hupp, Liedtke, and Borich, was 45-36.

In the fourth, the Lady Cadets outpointed the Johnnies, 13-7, to seal the victory.

“It’s pretty thrilling,” Combs said. “We’re all on cloud nine right now.”