NEWARK — It was a tale of two halves Tuesday for the Fredericktown boys basketball team. And in a cruel twist of fate, the lords of the basket turned against the Freddies when it counted most.
Fredericktown scored just 11 points in the second half as Pleasant rallied for a 47-33 victory in the first game of the Division III Sectional tournament at Newark.
“We just stopped scoring baskets,” said Fredericktown coach Kirk Manns, whose team made just 4 of 20 shots from the field in the second half. “They are a physical team — big and strong. They wore us down a little bit. I thought we continued to get some good shots.”
The Freddies (14-6) started off the game strong, jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes. The Spartans (10-10) were able to hang around, though, trailing just 14-9 after one quarter.
Both defenses turned up the intensity in the second quarter as only 13 points were scored by the two teams. Pleasant actually went the final 5:40 of the quarter without a point as Fredericktown stretched the lead to eight (22-14).
“We had some good ball movement, got some open looks and knocked them down,” Manns said. “The momentum was in our favor in the first half.”
After two free throws from Thomas Hinkle to start the third quarter, the wheels fell off for the Freddies. Fredericktown didn’t score for more than six minutes and Pleasant went on a 10-0 run to knot the game up at 24.
“You cannot beat a good basketball team when you don’t score for that long a time,” Manns said. “Sometimes the ball just stops going in the hole. That’s what happened tonight.”
Pleasant went to a full-court press to begin the third quarter. While it didn’t force a whole lot of Fredericktown turnovers, it definitely disrupted the Freddies’ rhythm.
“For a long time, the tempo of the game was in their favor. Our backs were against the wall, so we tried a full-court press,” said Pleasant coach Steve Freshour. “I think it was effective. There were not a lot of turnovers, but we got them a little out of their comfort zone.”
The game was still anybody’s for the taking as the teams entered the fourth quarter. Pleasant stepped up and grabbed the victory with a couple of quick buckets and then a solid performance at the free-throw line. The Spartans, who made 17 of 24 shots for the game, made 9 of 10 in the final 1:37 to ice the victory and advanced to the sectional finals.
“We were still within three or four points, but it got away at the free-throw line,” Manns said. “They put the game away at the foul line.”
“This was a good win for us,” said Freshour. “We know how good a team they are. I’ve got a lot of respect for their coach and his team.
“Our styles are very similar — we like to play man-to-man, we’re physical and we play hard at the defensive end.”
With the loss the Freddies will say good-bye to four seniors — C.J. Ruhl, Ty Fox, Thomas Hinkle and Jamison Shipley.
“We’re disappointed right now. We’re losing four good seniors. We’re losing not only good leadership, but we’re losing a key part of, not only, our basketball program, but our athletic program,” Manns said. “We’ll miss those guys. They are quality young men. What they’ve given to Fredericktown athletics is enormous.”
Hinkle led the Freddies with 12 points. Ryan Logan added seven points and five rebounds, while Ruhl had six points and two assists. Tony Lybarger added four points, while Tyler Hathaway and Garrett Gatton rounded out the scoring with two points each.
Pleasant was led by Conner Schweinfurth, who had 11 points and five rebounds. Corey Nielsen added 10 points, while Brad Harrah had seven points and six assists.