FREDERICKTOWN — The Fredericktown Freddies have already locked up the Mid-Buckeye Conference championship. But they aren’t slowing down.
The Freddies started Monday’s game against Cardington on a 19-4 run, then repeated the run in the second half, to cruise to a 52-31 nonconference victory at home.
Fredericktown (14-4) came prepared, despite the fact that everything they can accomplish is wrapped up. The MBC title is theirs, and their seed in sectionals is secure.
“We’re motivated to finish the season the way it needs to be,” said Fredericktown head coach Kirk Manns. “We’ll worry about the tournament when we get to it. Until then, the kids really want to win these last few games.”
No one on the court treated this game like any kind of exhibition. Cardington (3-15) came out ready to play, but was beat at its own game early on. The Pirates top post players, including Zach Sahr and Ben Burkhardt, found gaps and drove to the basket repeatedly. However, waiting for them was the big senior Nick Stacey, who got in position under the rim quickly and didn’t budge.
Cardington’s only points in the first period came in the first minute, when Kasey Brown hit a 3-pointer to put the Pirates ahead, 3-2.
Fredericktown’s offense clicked in the early part of the game. The run began when senior Tony Lybarger scored on a fast break. Sophomore Ryan Logan hit four shots in the first period, one of which was off his own steal. Another was converted to a three-point play. Logan would end up with a game-high 20 points.
“Our concentration was really good in the early part of the game,” Manns said. “I thought we played together really well.”
The points seemed to come easily for the Freddies. Not so much for the Pirates, who couldn’t even hit on their free-throw tries. By the end of the first, the score was 17-3, and the fans in the gym started to relax.
Maybe the Freddies themselves relaxed a little too much.
Once they found themselves behind, 21-5, the Pirates stormed back. Burkhardt hit a jumper, followed by 3-pointers by Sahr and Brown. Suddenly, Fredericktown’s halftime lead was down to eight.
The second half started the same way. Another Sahr basket, and two free throws from Mitch Yake, and the lead was just four.
“After we got off to that big lead, we lost our concentration,” Manns said. “We turned the ball over a few times and, before you knew it, it was a basketball game again.”
The Freddies didn’t panic. Logan took over the game once again, offensively and defensively, scoring seven points in the period. Lybarger added just one basket, but he contributed in other ways.
“Tony had an exceptional second half,” Manns said. “He defended very well. In the second half, we defended well without fouling. That made (Cardington) have to earn all their points instead of taking them from the free-throw line.”