Point parade: Fort Frye lights up scoreboard, beats Belpre, 80-54

BELPRE – No, the nets at Belpre High School didn’t spontaneously combust Friday night.

The Fort Frye Cadets doused them with lighter fluid and struck a match.

Fort Frye hit on an incredible 13-of-16 shots from the field, or 81 percent, in the second quarter and shot 65 percent for the game as the Cadets stormed back from a two-point first period deficit to claim an 80-54 win over the Belpre Golden Eagles in each team’s season opener Friday.

“That’s the point in the game we took over,” said Fort Frye boys’ basketball coach Eric Henniger.

In the second quarter, the Cadets literally had everything working as they had six different players score and five notch an assist as they found their offensive stroke after hitting on just 4-of-11 shots from the field to start the game.

“A lot of that is a credit to Justin Anderson,” Henniger said. “He went off there for a while.”

Anderson, the Cadet freshman, put on a dazzling display in the second frame by hitting on 6-of-8 shots from the field in the quarter to post 14 points in the frame. Those 14 points came at a critical juncture as Fort Frye had leading scorer Seth Legraen on the bench with foul trouble along with senior guard Chandler Lang.

“It (game) really got away from us there in the second quarter,” said Belpre boys’ basketball coach Jordan Thornhill. “When Lang and Legraen got in foul trouble we tried to keep our pressure on and it actually worked against us.”

Lang and Legraen’s foul trouble proved not to be a bother for the Cadets, who put the Golden Eagles in the bonus with over seven minutes to play before halftime.

Instead of capitalizing on the missing presence of two of Fort Frye’s top players, Belpre hit just 1-of-6 shots in the second quarter and turned the ball over nine times.

“We had a lot of opportunities in our offense that we didn’t take advantage of,” Thornhill said.

When they were given opportunities, the Cadets made certain they didn’t miss them.

Holding on to a two point lead after the first quarter of play the Golden Eagles discovered exactly how potent the Fort Frye offense could be in the opening minutes of the second frame.

Legraen began the offensive domination with a basket in the paint off an assist from Carter Kiefer, and from there Fort Frye simply wore the Belpre defense out.

Tyson Niceswanger hit a deuce to put the Cadets ahead for good with 6:43 in the second, and Anderson hit his first shot from the field off Niceswanger’s assist with 6:08 in the half. From there, it was all about the open looks and easy shots for the Cadets, who went from down by two to up by double figures in less than four minutes.

“We really pushed the floor well,” said Legraen, who recorded a game high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting to go with eight rebounds.

Pushing the ball up the floor enabled the Cadets to dictate the tempo of the game, as they recorded assists on 26 of their 34 buckets, including dimes on 11 of the 13 buckets in the pivotal second frame.

Every player that saw the floor for Fort Frye recorded at least one assist in the contest as the Cadets rained fire from the floor.

“We knew that we could get some layups. As soon as we get those layups, everything outside will open up,” Henniger explained.

As impressive as the offensive display was in the second quarter for the Cadets, Fort Frye was equally stingy on the defensive end as Belpre managed just one field goal in the second period – a bucket by Hayden Plummer with 5:04 before the break.

Plummer’s bucket temporarily halted the bleeding, as it made the score 21-16 in favor of Fort Frye, but once again the Cadet offense struck fire as Niceswanger scored off Anderson’s assist and then Anderson found the net off a pass from Colten Shuster to spur Fort Frye on a 13-1 run over the next 2:12.

Suddenly down by a considerable margin after leading much of the first quarter, the Golden Eagles found a little spark of their own in the third.

After trailing 40-20 at the break, Belpre narrowed the gap down to 13 on Plummer’s trifecta off an assist from Tavian Miller with 3:25 in the third, prompting a timeout from the Cadets.

Out of the timeout, the Cadets swiftly rattled off nine of the final 11 points of the quarter to maintain the 20 point advantage, 58-38, heading into the final stanza.

“When someone challenges us, we’re there to step up,” Legraen said.

Fort Frye continued to explode on the offensive end in the fourth as seven different players scored, including four in double figures.

Two of those four came off the bench for the Cadets as Fort Frye got 27 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds from the reserves.

“We’ve got a well balanced team this year,” Legraen said. “We can get four, five guys in double figures.”

Leading by a comfortable margin, Legraen ignited a fire in the crowd as well when he powered down a two-handed dunk off Niceswanger’s assist with 5:02 in the game.

Following Legraen’s dunk, Belpre played even with the Cadets as each team amassed 13 points in the final five minutes, but the Golden Eagles simply couldn’t overcome the devastating firestorm in the second quarter.

“Our team didn’t play bad,” Thornhill said. “We just didn’t play smart. I thought Fort Frye played extremely well. I don’t know if they could play better.”