FRONTENAC — The defensive effort by Frontenac boys basketball was a catalyst for success in the Raiders’ 56-38 win over Prairie View Monday.
Frontenac (10-8, 4-1 CNC) held a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Raiders’ stifling defense allowed the lead to grow to eight by the half. FHS held the Buffaloes to five points in the third quarter, stretching the lead to 15. The margin reached 20 early in the fourth, as the Raiders cruised to victory.
“It was something we talked about Friday night after the Colgan game — we didn’t want a letdown, we wanted to build off that win,” FHS head coach Ryan Varsolona said. “We want to bring that energy every night … I was glad to see we did that tonight.”
Isaac Bicknell led Frontenac in scoring with 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half.
Bicknell sat much of the second half because of early foul trouble in the third quarter, but Jake Wilbert filled the void on the offensive end for FHS, scoring eight of his nine points in the final two quarters.
“It’s one of those deals where we have confidence in 10 guys on our team,” Varsolona said. “They know who they are going in for and what position they are playing. Jake has a lot of confidence in what he is doing, and he was able to step up.”
Luke Loy and Peyton Brown each finished with eight points, while Eian Monsour, six points, and and Ryan Long, five points, combined to score an addition 11 for the Raiders.
Prairie View was led in scoring by Blake Boedicker’s 15 points, including three makes from 3-point land.
Justin Peine contributed nine points in the Buffaloes’ loss.
The Raiders pushed their one-point, 12-11 first-quarter lead to eight points by the intermission thanks to defensive stops resulting in easy baskets going the other way.
“With our team, it really starts on the defensive end,” Varsolona said. “We did a better job of anticipating passes and getting in passing lanes, and then we ran the floor well when we made the stop.”
After tradings scores to start the second, Frontenac responded with six unanswered to take a 20-13 advantage midway through the period.
Loy kicked off the run with a score inside off the inbound pass, following it up with a free throw on the next trip down the court to make the score 17-13.
Bicknell drove the lane for a basket, and a free throw from Hayden Pile put the FHS lead at seven.
Brown scored on the eurostep layup and Long stole the ball on the ensuing Buffalo possession for a fast-break layup to push the Raider lead to nine, 28-19, with 1:12 left to play in the first half.
Prairie View answered with four straight points, but a transition layup from Long, followed by a Brown steal for a Bicknell score on the break, sent Frontenac into the half with a 32-24 advantage.
The Raiders pushed the lead to double digits early in the second half, stretching it to 15 points by the start of the fourth after the FHS defense limited the Buffaloes to five points in the third period.
“You always talking about winning those first few minutes of the third quarter, especially when you have the lead at halftime,” Varsolona said. “You can really put a team away if you can do that. I was glad to see our guys rise to the challenge in the third quarter.”
After Peine scored inside to start the second half, Bicknell scored in transition to start a 12-3 run to close out the period.
Broc Ginavan earned a steal in the backcourt, which turned into a layup, and Brown scored on the break off the Wilbert steal.
Wilbert closed out the third quarter with a pair of layups — the second of which was of the reverse variety from the right side — sandwiched around a pair of free throws from Long to give Frontenac a 44-29 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Wilbert scored on consecutive drives to start the fourth, and Loy sank a pair from the charity stripe to put the Raiders up 51-29 at the 6:55 mark, setting up Frontenac for an easy win down the stretch.
“It was great to see us pull out and push the lead to 20 points with the quick turnaround tomorrow,” Varsolona said.
Frontenac boys basketball hosts Columbus on Tuesday, with the tip scheduled to follow the girls’ game.
-- Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.