JOHNSTOWN — The struggle for first place in the Mid-Buckeye Conference was just that — a struggle.
Both teams forced mistakes and committed turnovers. Both teams attacked the post and fought for every rebound. But Fredericktown (8-3, 6-0) hit the shots that mattered, and never let Northridge take the lead in the Freddies’ 50-43 at the Vikings’ home court on Friday.
The game was billed as a battle for first place in the MBC, with the two teams sharing one conference loss. And no two teams in the MBC are more similar.
Both teams have focused on high-percentage inside shooting throughout the season. Friday night was no different, with both teams hitting better than 50 percent from inside.
“I thought we could get good shots if we could handle the pressure,” Fredericktown head coach Kirk Manns said. “We got a lot of good shots. The problem is, when you turn the ball over, you’re not getting a shot at the basket.”
The difference in the game — and the statistic that stands out the most — is foul shooting.
Fredericktown hit 18 out of 23 free throws in the game. Northridge went 9-for-21.
Many of the Vikings’ free-throw attempts were in bonus situations, costing them chances at even more points.
Fredericktown’s Ryan Logan led the way. Logan hit 10 out of 12 from the charity stripe, on the way to a team-high 20 points. His six rebounds were just one shy of team-leader Garrett Gatton, who had seven.
“(Logan) got to the foul line, and that’s important,” Manns said. “We haven’t been doing that enough. He did a nice job.”
The Freddies played better as a team as the game went on. Tyler Hathaway, one of the keys to the team’s ball control, is done for the season. But the team has adjusted to life without one of its top ball-handlers.
“You have to remember, we’re still a month behind everyone else,” Manns said. “Everyone else started practice Nov. 5, and we didn’t have our first practice until Dec. 3. So we’re still adjusting. We’re still making mistakes that a lot of teams aren’t making.”
Both teams came out of the gate struggling offensively. Fredericktown had five turnovers in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the game. Northridge couldn’t score until the first period was about half over.
Logan finally hit a jumper at the 4:50 mark in the first to get the first bucket of the game.