4 in a row: Cougars survive Zeps’ rally to win 62-58

NEW MATAMORAS – Frontier appeared to be cruising to its fourth straight victory Friday night against Shenandoah.

The Cougars led 34-13 at halftime and had appeared to shake off any rust that may have carried over from two weeks off.

Then the Zeps came alive in the second half and made the Cougars fight to the very end, cutting it to a 4-point game with 10 seconds remaining.

Luckily for Frontier, that was as close as Shenandoah could get as Merritt Flood’s last second 3-point attempt was off the mark to give the Cougars a 62-58 Pioneer Valley Conference victory.

“We weren’t very mentally tough tonight,” said Frontier head coach Roger Kirkpatrick. “This game was a learning experience.”

Frontier led comfortably at the half thanks to seven 3-pointers and the defense holding the Zeps to just six field goals in 30 tries.

Shenandoah head coach Craig Sebring must’ve said something to fire up his troops at the break as they came out and went 10-for-16 (62.5 percent) from the floor in the third period to cut the deficit to 11 points.

Flood, who was above everybody on the score sheet with 30 points, picked up 16 of his markers in the third quarter and then added 10 more in the final stanza. However, it wasn’t quite enough to complete the comeback.

“We got out of sequence in the second half,” Kirkpatrick said. “We were tired. We had no legs in the second half.”

3-pointers by Damon Metheney, Jeremiah Helmick and Drew Schneider helped the Cougars open up a 15-6 lead after one.

Frontier then went on a 16-2 run to open the second quarter.

Schneider and Jacob Bradford each hit treys before Rodney Barnes converted a 3-point play and then made a 3-point shot to make the score 29-8.

After the Zeps started the second half on a 7-2 run, a drive and basket by Helmick made it 38-20.

Later, after Camino put back his own miss to keep it at an 18-point game, Flood poured in seven straight points to bring Shenandoah within 11. Schneider then answered with five straight free throws to stretch the advantage to 16.

Tanner Moore then connected on a 3 from the left wing and, following another freebie from Schneider, Flood drained a half-court shot at the horn to cut it back to 11.

It appeared Frontier had it wrapped up after five consecutive points from Camino made it a 14-point game with just over three minutes left in the game.

Jackson Cline made a basket and a little bit later Flood hit another 3 to pull the Zeps within eight.

After Barnes made 1-of-2 at the line, Stanley Gutowski put back a teammate’s miss, making the score 59-52.

Camino then made a pair from the charity stripe, but Moore and Flood each put in triples to make it 62-58 with 10 seconds left. Camino was fouled on the inbound and missed both foul shots, but there wasn’t enough time remaining for Shenandoah to close the gap.

Camino finished with 15 to lead the Cougars. Barnes added 14 and Schneider contributed 12. Flood was the only Zeps player to score in double figures.