Prep boys basketball: Cadets claim OVAC crown in 2OT thriller
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Seth Legraen tossed in 25 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead Fort Frye to a thrilling, 60-56, double overtime victory over the Steubenville Catholic Central Saturday to claim its third Ohio Valley Athletic Conference title in the last four years.
The Cadets (19-3) overcame a pair of Steubenville Central last-minute comebacks at both the end of regulation and the first overtime before finally outscoring the Crusaders 8-4 in the second extra session to seal a hard-earned victory.
SCC (15-6) trailed by eight points with 1:10 to play in regulation before Ryan Fletcher drilled back-to-back triples to get the game within one possession, and Matt Martello capped the rally with a long three-ball with just 29 seconds left on the clock to force the first overtime.
Fort Frye held a three-point advantage in the first overtime when Legraen completed an old-fashioned three-point play early in extended play but the Crusaders had another dramatic answer, this time a three-pointer by Fletcher with just 3.6 seconds remaining on the clock to force another four minutes of action.
The Crusaders grabbed the early lead in double overtime when Michael Barber scored a quick field goal to give SCC its first lead since the opening quarter but the Fort tied things right back up on a driving bucket by sophomore Carter Kiefer.
Big John Paul Dombroski connected on an inside score with an assist from Barber but the Cadets, who struggled all day long at the charity stripe, finally began to take care of business at the free-throw line.
Kiefer hit one-of-two freebies to draw the Cadets to within a single point, and Legraen followed with a pair of charity tosses to push the Cadets back in front 57-56 with 2:17 remaining on the clock.
Senior Jordan Anderson extended that lead to two by making the front end of a one-on-one, but missed the second to give the Crusaders yet another chance at a dramatic finish.
Steubenville worked the clock down to try and get a final shot but Legraen came up with what proved to be the biggest play of the game when he blocked a shot by Tony Barber and grabbed the rebound with 10.2 seconds left on the clock.
Legraen was quickly fouled and the Cadet junior, who watched his older brother Garrett clinch a Fort Frye OVAC championship in 2011 with a buzzer beating tip-in to defeat Monroe Central, finished things off by making both free-throws to extend the lead to four.
The Cadets uncharacteristically converted on just 14-of-27 free throws in the game which played a big part in allowing the Crusdaers to stay within striking distance.
“We played really well and executed a lot of things on offense and defense. We just couldn’t make our free- throws,” said second-year Cadet head coach Eric Henniger. “Our guys really buckled down and even when we were missing our free-throws, we were still in the game because we played good defense.”
Early on it looked like the Cadets might roll to a lopsided win as Legraen scored nine points in the opening quarter to help the Fort jump out to a 15-10 lead.
The Crusaders cut that lead to four when Dombroski banked in a 10-footer but Fort Frye scored the next nine points to increase the lead to a game-high 13 points with just over four minutes to play in the half.
Martello halted the Cadet run with one of his five three-pointers in the game, and after Legraen scored points number 13 and 14 of the half, Martello struck again from long range to trim the lead to 27-18.
Legraen drew his second foul of the half shortly after, and spent the final three minutes of the half on the bench while SCC continued to chip away at the lead with Tony Barber’s last-minute triple closing the Cadet lead to 29-23 at half.
Legraen was whistled for his third personal foul early in the second half, and spent the majority of the third quarter back on the bench as the Crusaders tied things up at 33-33 heading into the final period.
Fort Frye freshman Justin Anderson and SCC senior Brenton Colabella traded buckets to open the fourth quarter before Legraen brought the Fort Frye faithful to their feet when he intercepted a pass near midcourt and finished with a thunderous two-handed dunk that put the Cadets back in front.
“They (SCC) had run that same play the whole day so I was waiting on it,” Legraen said, “It was a morale booster for us and got us pumped up.”
The Crusaders had an answer, as they did seemingly the whole game, as Martello followed Legraen’s dunk with a three-pointer to put SCC back in front.
Justin Anderson’s three-ball regained the lead for the Cadets and a Kiefer score and five points by senior Chandler Lang stretched the lead to eight setting the stage for the last minute drama.
Martello led Steubenville Catholic in scoring with 15, all from behind the arc, while Fletcher chipped in with 10 points and eight boards.
Joining Legraen in double figures for the Cadets was Kiefer with 12 while Lang netted nine.
“This is one of our goals every year because we know coming in that we are going to be playing good teams,” said Henniger of the OVAC title. “Anytime we can get a championship, it just adds to what we are trying to do. To put up another pennant on the wall means a lot.”
Fort Frye will now set its focus on district tournament play when the No. 2-seeded Cadets take on No. 16-seeded West Muskingum at Meadowbrook High School in Byesville Wednesday night at 6 p.m.