HOWARD — Players flying around, deflecting passes, getting hands on shots and just completely disrupting the opposing offenses. Friday’s Fredericktown-East Knox boys basketball game was a game the coaches would have been proud of — the football coaches.
The Freddies shut down the Mid-Buckeye Conference’s top scorer and East Knox, altogether, to pick up a 36-22 victory at East Knox.
“Anytime you come on the road and play against, in my opinion, one of the best one of the best players in our league in (Luke) Branstool and get a win, it definitely took a lot of effort,” Fredericktown coach Kirk Manns said. “We expended a lot of effort defensively tonight. Our kids deserve a lot of credit. We held a good team to 22 points.”
Both team’s defenses controlled the game right from the opening tip. Neither team was able to dent the scoreboard until Fredericktown (6-2 overall, 4-1 MBC) scored on a C.J. Ruhl jumper nearly four minutes into the game. East Knox’s lone score of the first quarter came on a Luke Branstool shot with 3:30 left in the period. The Freddies led 7-2 after one.
“They played good, tough defense,” said East Knox coach Don McDaniel. “We just did not come ready to play. I don’t know if it was the snow day or what, but if we’re not in our routine, we do not play well.”
After another bucket by Ruhl to open the second quarter, East Knox (4-5, 1-4) clamped down defensively, not allowing another point in the half. But, East Knox’s offense continued to struggle, getting just five points to close it to 11-7 at intermission.
East Knox was just 3 of 18 shooting from the field and just 1 of 7 from the free-throw line in the first half. Fredericktown wasn’t much better at 5 of 15 from the field and 1 of 2 from the line.
“We’ve been shooting around 40 percent. We got some good looks from the outside, but not from the inside. We did not work hard enough to get the ball and we let their defense push us out a couple of feet,” McDaniel said. “I thought defensively, we played OK.”
The struggles continued in the third quarter and the Freddies took an 18-13 lead into the final frame. In the final quarter, the Freddies were able to break the East Knox press and get a couple of easy buckets, then iced the game at the free-throw line (10 of 14 in the quarter). Senior Thomas Hinkle was the benefactor of beating the press, as he scored three baskets and hit on 5 of 6 shots from the charity stripe in the final frame.
“They extended the floor and we were able to get some easy layups. Then, in the fourth quarter, we knocked down our free throws,” Manns said. “I’m proud of the kids’ efforts. It takes a lot of concentration and physical effort to play defense like we did tonight.”
“We had to press, but we didn’t protect the basket. We’re not normally a full-court pressure team. We were out of our element,” McDaniel said.
Hinkle finished the night with 11 points to lead all scorers. Ryan Logan added eight points and five rebounds for the Freddies, while Ruhl had seven points. Ty Fox scored just two points, but it was his defense that impressed Manns.
“I thought our senior Ty Fox gave us a tremendous lift. He had only two points, but he played great defense and rebounded well. He gave us a big lift off the bench,” Manns said.
Branstool led the Bulldogs with eight points and seven rebounds. Toney Johnson added four points, while Khai Haralson pulled down seven rebounds.
Both teams return to action Tuesday. East Knox travels to Centerburg, while Fredericktown plays host to Johnstown.