FREDERICK — While it is not exactly crunch time just yet, the clock definitely is ticking for those teams angling for a playoff push.
The Frederick boys basketball team, after an uneven start to the season, certainly is in that boat. With Sterling and Windsor again asserting their position as the teams to beat in the Class 4A Tri-Valley League, teams like Frederick could be fixtures in what likely will be a heated race for third place.
The Warriors put themselves on better footing Saturday, surviving a late charge by Northridge to secure a 50-48 victory. Frederick (4-8, 2-2 Tri-Valley League) has recorded consecutive victories for the first time this season and gained some separation from Northridge (3-9, 0-4) in the conference standings going into Wednesday’s home tilt against Skyline.
“You don’t want to use that term, but they’re all going to be ‘must-wins’ from here on out,” Frederick coach Larry Frank said. “There are four or five teams that are going to be fighting for that third spot. You don’t want to give it up to the other two (Sterling and Windsor), but it is what it is. We’ve played hard two games in a row. We’re finding some continuity.”
Frederick built a 12-point advantage midway through the third quarter but couldn’t put away the visiting Grizzlies until the final buzzer. Northridge used a 12-2 run to pull within 42-40 going into the fourth quarter, setting the stage for a wild finish.
Northridge rallied to within one point with 1:41 remaining, but an inside basket by Ryan Miller reestablished a three-point edge for the Warriors. The Grizzlies’ Garrad Martinez made one free throw with 49.8 seconds remaining to trim Frederick’s lead to 50-48, but the teams traded errant shots and missed free throws until a final 3-point heave at the buzzer by Northridge sailed wide.
“We knew we had to get this win,” said Miller, who scored nine points during Frederick’s win at Erie on Friday. “We were struggling at the beginning of the season, and getting two games back-to-back has really boosted our confidence. We’re getting our confidence back. We couldn’t figure out a defense to run against any teams because we had no flow. We were a young varsity team. Two-and-two in the league isn’t bad, but we have to keep winning and stay on track.”
Frederick was led by a huge game from junior Nathan Harrison, who led all scorers with 18 points. Harrison went scoreless during the first quarter but erupted for 10 points in the second as the Warriors took a 23-22 lead at the break. Harrison has scored at least 16 points in three of the past five games.
“He’s probably one of our best shooters,” said Frank, whose nephew, Bryant Frank, started for Northridge. “I think some teams are finding out about him. He has struggled at times in some games where he disappears for bits at a time or he tries to force it. But he’s a junior and he’s never been in that position before. I keep stressing to him that he needs to drive to the hole because they are going to start coming out on that shot. But he had a good ball game.”
Harrison knocked down two of the Warriors’ four 3-pointers and went 4-for-5 at the free throw line. Miller added nine points and a team-leading 11 rebounds. Jason Barraza came off the bench to lead Northridge with 13 points.
“It hasn’t been one person, this has been the whole team working as a team,” Harrison said. “We were struggling at the beginning of the season, but we’ve brought it together. We’ve been having better practices and we are starting to play more as a team.”
Pat Rooney can be reached at email@example.com
Frederick 50, Northridge 48
At Frederick HS
NORTHRIDGE (3-9, 0-4)
Arroyo 2 1-3 5, Martinez 3 3-6 9, Frank 2 2-2 6, Rodriguez 3 0-0 8, Karlin 2 0-0 5, Barraza 6 1-2 13, Bernhardt 0 2-4 2, Vasquez 0 0-0 0, Mendez 0 0-2 0. Totals 18 9-19 48.
FREDERICK (4-8, 2-2)
Adams 3 1-2 7, Miller 3 3-6 9, Hall 1 0-0 3, Mulvin 1 1-2 3, Harrison 6 4-5 18, McGraw 1 0-0 2, Broz 1 1-4 3, Gomez 2 0-1 5, Burgess 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-20 50.
Score by quarters:
Northridge 14 11 15 8 — 48
Frederick 14 16 12 8 — 50
3-point field goals — Northridge (3): Rodriguez 2, Karlin; Frederick (4): Harrison 2, Hall, Gomez. Total fouls — Northridge 18, Frederick 19. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.