FREDERICKTOWN — The Fredericktown boys basketball team opened the game 14-2 and rolled to a 67-39 win over visiting Mount Gilead in Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference play Tuesday night.
The win is the Freddies third in a row and fourth in five games and keeps them two games back of first place Centerburg in the league standings.
Caleb Sheriff had eight points and four rebounds in Fredericktown’s opening run and finished with 14 points, six rebounds and a couple of steals. He was one of four starters to finish in double figures for the Freddies (11-8, 8-4).
“We preached to (our) guys to get out to a quick start,” Fredericktown coach Derek Dibling said. “We felt like (we) had something to prove. It was a good team effort. Guys bought into what we were trying to do defensively and offensively.”
It was a far cry from the first time the two teams met Dec. 20. Mount Gilead won that game at home after taking a 41-27 lead at the break thanks to a 3-point barrage in the second quarter.
“We ran a lot more than we did last time,” junior guard Ty Hatfield said. “We didn’t get into foul trouble this time. (Last time) they made a lot of shots, so we couldn’t get out and run.”
Hatfield was the lone starter who scored under 10 points. He scored six points, but had seven rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals to facilitate the offense.
“We, as a team, put a lot of trust into Ty to handle the ball and get guys the ball when they need and where they need it,” Dibling said. “We expect him to be an extension of the coaching staff. He just does a great job of embracing what we ask him to do. He’s not afraid of the big moment (and) he’s not afraid to be that tough guy that we need.”
Lincoln Cunningham scored 10 of his game-best 17 points in the third quarter. Mason Finnell had 12 points and three rebounds and Terry Fearn finished with a double-double — 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Freddies.
Fearn scored six of his points in the early-going of a 14-2 start to the second half for Fredericktown.
Matthew Bland had 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half and Nathan Rogers added nine points and 11 rebounds for Mount Gilead (7-12, 6-6), which lost its fifth consecutive game.
“We didn’t match their intensity at the start,” Mount Gilead coach Dan Strasser said. “The two things that hinder us in just about every game is our rebounding and taking care of the basketball.”
Fredericktown won the rebounding battle 42-26 and had just eight turnovers to Mount Gilead’s 18.
“We can shoot the ball, everybody knows that,” Strasser said. “But when we don’t shoot it, we’ve gotta be able to rebound. We didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight. But that wasn’t the message … we wanted guys to attack and get inside. But we fell in love with the 3. We live and die by it and we died tonight.”
Fredericktown is tied for third place in the KMAC with East Knox, which heated up the league race with wins over Centerburg and Northmor last weekend.
The Freddies have a chance to put their stamp on it Friday night when they host Northmor at 7:30 p.m., with a date at the first-place Trojans looming large in the regular-season finale Feb. 14.
“It’ll be a race to the finish, I guess,” Dibling said. “We, obviously, need a little bit of help. But we’ll see what happens.”
Mount Gilead travels to East Knox on Friday with a scheduled tip-off time of 7:30 p.m.
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