Prep boys basketball: Fort downs Linsly

BEVERLY – Fort Frye head coach Eric Henniger knew full well going into Tuesday night’s Ohio Valley Athletic Conference semi- final against Linsly that his Cadets would have to play their best game of the year to have a chance at knocking off the visiting Cadets.

Henniger’s team delivered in a big way as Fort Frye used a total team effort to pull out a 65-55 victory to advance to the championship game Saturday at Ohio University Eastern.

“I knew it was going to take almost a perfect game for us to beat them because they are an outstanding basketball team,” said Henniger of the huge Fort Frye victory. “It took the first half to kind of get used to their speed but the second half we figured things out and our boys played really well.”

It was obvious from the opening tip that Linsly’s game plan was to take advantage of its team speed as it pushed the ball up the court on every opportunity it got.

The two Cadet teams traded the lead back and forth some nine times in the first quarter with Linsly claiming a 16-13 on a Cole Griffin three-pointer.

The Fort got eight points off the bench from freshman Justin Anderson in the first period.

Fort Frye got scores by Logan Madison and Chandler Lang early in the second quarter to close the lead back to a single point but Linsly shot 56.5 percent in the first half (13-23) and managed to pull out to a 30-25 lead at the half.

Carter Kiefer opened the second half for the red white and blue with a bucket on a nice pass from Seth Legraen and after Griffin’s put back basket pushed the lead back to five, Madison found a wide open Legraen under the basket to cut the lead to 32-29.

Linsly’s Anthony Wallace led all scorers in the game with 20 points including a pair on an assist from Arien Seymour and after Madison drilled his second three-ball of the game, Wallace answered with a triple of his own to push the lead back to five.

It took Fort Frye much of the third quarter to take a bite out of the Linsly lead but a late 10-4 run gave FF the lead heading to the final period.

A Kiefer free throw got things started and Lang cut the lead to a point with an old fashioned three-point play before Madison brought the house down and gave his team their first lead since the opening period with his third three-pointer of the game.

“Logan (Madison) is actually a very good shooter,” said Henniger of his 6-foot-3 junior big man who scored 11 points in the game on a perfect four-for-four shooting performance. “In the second half he came out and hit some huge shots and we’ve been looking for him to do that all year.”

An Isiah Harvin score tied things back up for Linsly and after Kiefer connected from long range, Wallace hit a turn-around jump shot on the baseline to cut the Fort lead to 44-43 heading to the final eight minutes.

Senior guards Jordan Anderson and Tyson Niceswanger got the final period started in a good way for Fort Frye with driving scores but Wallace scored seven straight points for Linsly to trim the lead 53-50 with less than four minutes to play in the game.

Legraen’s lay-up and Lang’s free-throw sent FF back in front by six before Erick Taylor’s rebound and score made it a 56-52 game with 2:30 to play.

After Kiefer and Taylor traded scores, the Fort Frye defense came up with a pair of huge plays resulting in a couple of buckets in transition that sealed the victory for all intents and purposes.

Kiefer intercepted a Linsly pass and managed to hit Legraen in stride who finished with a two-handed dunk over top of the Linsley defender.

Lang followed with a steal of his own that resulted in a free throw and a 61-53 Fort Frye lead with 1:01 to play.

The Fort struggled at the free-throw line for much of the night as evidenced by their 12-of-21 performance but managed to come through at the end as they made four-of-six in the final minute to punch their ticket to St. Clairsville for the final.

“We knew what we had to do coming into this game and we were able to do it,” said Legraen of the big win. “We were able to hit some threes and that made them come out on us and opened up some things inside.”

Fort Frye had four players in double figures as Legraen, Lang and Justin Anderson each finished with 13 points while Madison and Kiefer chipped in with 11 and nine points respectively.

Wallace yanked down nine rebounds to go along with his 20 points while Harvin added 13 for Linsly.

Linsly slipped to 12-4 on the season with the loss while the Fort improved to 18-3 with the big win.

Fort Frye will take on Steubenville Catholic Central, which knocked off Monroe Central 63-59 Tuesday night, in the championship game Saturday morning at 10 a.m.