Bellaire Big Reds fall to Fort Frye Cadets

Photo by Mike Morrison Bellaire’s Eliana Mason, right, and Zara Harveth guard Fort Frye’s Ava Huffman during Wednesday’s district semifinal game at Cambridge. Fort Frye won, 43-27.

CAMBRIDGE — That tried and true old adage that defense never takes a night off proved true once again Wednesday night in the Division III, Eastern District Semifinal at Cambridge High School between the No.1 seeded Fort Frye Cadets and the No. 4 seeded Bellaire Big Reds.

Great team defense allotted the Cadets some time to get untracked offensively and once they did they pulled away to a 43-27 victory.

The Cadets trailed Bellaire 10-8 at the end of the first quarter but allowed a grand total of 17 points the rest of the way to improve to 19-6 on the season and punch their ticket to Saturday afternoon’s district title game against Union Local at a site to be determined.

“We were missing a lot of good shots early but our defense stayed solid,” said Fort Frye head coach Dan Liedtke. “We just hung in there until we could get things clicking and I knew we would eventually.”

Fort Frye could not buy a bucket early on, especially from behind the 3-point arc as they missed their first nine attempts and were blanked in the first period.

On the other hand Bellaire started strong from the outside as it got 3-pointers from Allie Ault and Rhyan O’Grady late in the first quarter as they built their two-point lead.

That lead swelled to five early in the second quarter as after Eliana Mason and Fort Frye’s Emmie Duskey traded two-pointers, Zara Harveth knocked down a triple to give the Big Reds a 15-10 advantage.

Fort Frye missed two more from behind the arc to open the second quarter before freshman Ella Dowler finally broke the ice for the Cadets by draining a triple to cut the lead to two.

After senior Kianna O’Brien’s inside field goal tied things up, Dowler struck once again from long range to put the Cadets in front.

Duskey capped the first half with a two-pointer as the Fort headed to the locker room with a 20-15 lead.

Liedtke has been quite impressed with the job Dowler has given his team off of the bench all season long and especially in clutch situations

“She’s been playing great and she’s going to another level right now,” said Liedtke of his 5-foot-5 freshman who is usually the first girl off of the bench for the Cadets. “You hope when you have young players that by the time the tournaments come they step up and she is doing just that and playing with a lot more confidence.”

It would take the Big Reds no time at all to tie things up in the second half as they got two-pointers from Harveth and Mason and an old-fashioned three-point play by Sidney Rowson to tie the game at 22-22.

Dowler answered for the Fort with a baseline runner for two and then assisted Duskey on a floater to push the lead to four.

The Cadets relied on yet another freshman for a huge shot as Ava Huffman closed out the third quarter with a 3-ball to send the Cadets to the final period with a 29-22 lead.

Early in the final period the Cadets got a triple from O’Brien that made it an eight-point lead but Bellaire responded with a triple from Harveth to cut the lead 32-27 with six minutes to play.

Unfortunately for Bellaire head coach John Farrier and his squad that would be the final points they would score in the game as the Cadets blanked them over the final six minutes and pulled away to the 16-point win.

Duskey led all scorers with 16 points and her veteran leadership on the floor paid dividends as well for the Cadets.

“She is a very educated and experienced player and ever since she was a freshman she has been in these big games,” said Liedtke of Duskey. “She’s a true veteran and a great leader.”

Dowler also reached double figures with 11 while leading the Cadets in rebounds with seven, steals with four and tying Duskey for the team lead with three assists.

Bellaire was led in scoring by Harveth with eight and Ault with seven as their season comes to a close with a 16-9 record.

The Cadets will now set their sights on a Union Local Jets team Saturday for the District title at 1 p.m. at a site to be determined.

“We know them very well and played them in the regular season and a lot last year,” said Liedtke of Union Local, a team the Cadets downed 37-28 way back in their season opener. “They are a great team but we will be ready.”


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