Fort Frye hoops fans in a frenzy

BEVERLY – As the Fort Frye High girls’ basketball team prepares for its first ever appearance in the Division III state tournament on Thursday, fans around the Mid-Ohio Valley are pumped up for the “Final Four” bound Lady Cadets.

“I’m so excited,” said Sandy Davis, a Whipple resident. “I just love those girls. I’ve followed them for a long time. I’m sure everyone is rooting for them.”

The Cadets are scheduled to take on Africentric at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus. The semifinal contest will tip off at 1 p.m.

Last season, Africentric ousted the Lady Cadets in the regional tournament, but Lowell resident Terry Snow likes Fort Frye’s chances this time around.

“I think they’ve got a good shot at beating Africentric,” Snow said.

However, if the Fort should get past the Nubians and play in the state championship Saturday, Snow will have a tough choice to make.

“I’m supposed to go to a wedding Saturday. If so, I’ll have to figure out a way to get updates. My daughter-in-law and I had a chat about this,” laughed Snow.

Fort Frye is led by seniors Deidra Combs, Taylor Buchanan, Morgan Liedtke and Micayla Hupp. Also making up the Cadets’ varsity roster is juniors Brooke Borich and Shawntell Parsons and sophomores Michelle Adkins, Megan Liedtke, Natalie Hart and Lexi Skinner.

The Lady Cadets are guided by head coach Dan Liedtke. Dan Liedtke was a longtime Fort Frye boys’ coach, anchoring the 1999 Cadet squad that made a state tournament appearance. The coach has earned the respect of many Fort Frye supporters.

“For Fort Frye basketball, the name of the game is Dan Liedtke,” said Bob Leeper of Beverly. “When he came here, it was like a breath of fresh air. That family of his is so devoted to the game of basketball.”

Leeper, while praising the team’s work on the court, also noted its performance in the classroom.

“You look at their academic records, they’re some of the best in the school,” Leeper said. “They set such a fine example for young people.

“As a fan, I am so proud of those girls.”

Fort Frye, which went 19-3 in the regular season, has won six straight tournament games en route to claiming a sectional, district and regional championship.

So far, the Cadets have played tournament games at high schools in Cambridge, Steubenville and Logan. Despite the long distances, the Fort Frye faithful have not failed to pack each venue. While the community has been a big part of that, the students have done a nice job of supporting their classmates as well.

“Anytime any sport from our high school makes it this far, we’re happy for them,” said Fort Frye senior Caden Brooker. “It definitely makes you proud to be a Cadet.”

Brooker, a member of the boys’ basketball team, is not surprised to see the girls having so much success.

“Ever since junior high all the way up, they’ve done nothing but win,” Brooker explained. “They’ve worked very hard to get to this point.”

While making the “Final Four” is an impressive feat, Dan Liedtke and his team are hoping to one-up that accomplishment with a state championship.

It won’t be easy, but with what the Lady Cadets have done this season, they are certainly capable of it.

Either way, the team will be welcomed back with open arms.

“Win or lose, I’m just so proud of them,” Snow said.