Don’t look now, but the Frederick boys basketball team is on the move.
The Warriors have evolved quickly from an inexperienced bunch to a team that is emerging as a huge factor in the Class 4A Tri-Valley League race. Frederick has won four consecutive games and seven of eight since it dropped a 53-33 decision against Sterling on Jan. 10. The resurgent Warriors will get another shot at Class 4A’s top-ranked, defending state champions at Sterling on Friday, and they expect to give the Tigers all they can handle.
“First, at the defensive end, we’re playing as a team and finding things that work,” Frederick coach Larry Frank said. “The second thing is, the kids have some confidence in their abilities. We are a young team. We have a few seniors that get time, but other than that, it’s juniors and sophomores.
“It took us a while for them to get used to playing each other, and knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That’s the two biggest things that have gotten us on this streak.”Frederick reached the Class 4A state tournament last year but was forced to perhaps eye a rebuilding year after graduating its top four scorers, including an average of 30 points a game from the Warriors’ top two scorers, Jacob Fischenich and Alex Kolanowski.
A 2-8 start this season certainly didn’t ignite confidence for a repeat state tourney appearance. Yet the Warriors got their act together in a hurry, despite a starting lineup that features four juniors and one sophomore.
Frederick has developed a solid inside-outside tandem with 3-point ace Nathan Harrison and post player Ryan Miller. Miller has averaged a team-leading 13.2 points a game and has averaged 17.3 points in the past six games, including a 12-for-13 shooting performance during a 30-point effort against Roosevelt.
Yet even when one of the Warriors’ primary weapons is having an off night, Frederick has developed the sort of depth that can overcome such shortcomings. During Tuesday’s win against Fort Morgan, Miller and Harrison combined to score only 13 points, yet the Warriors’ bench, led by senior Dalton Hall, scored 20 second-half points to help Frederick pull away.
Frederick’s surge has given the club a comfortable two-game lead in third place of the Tri-Valley over Skyline and Fort Morgan. The Warriors are only one game behind second-place Windsor heading into Friday’s trip to Sterling.
“Last year, we lost three kids who were over 6-3, so we knew we were going to be small this year,” junior guard Lucas Adams said. “But we’ve got a lot of good athletes and we know that we have the potential to be one of the best defensive teams.
“(Sterling) is the No. 1 team in the state and they have the target on their back. We have no pressure. We’re going to go in there and play with some confidence. We’re going to take a shot at them and see what happens.”
Pat Rooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org