KEYSER - At the conclusion of three quarters on Senior Night at Keyser, Frankfort clung to a slim 40-39 lead over the host Tornado. Up to that point, the contest can best be described as a “back and forth” affair. The stage was set for a dramatic close finish between these two who have been rivals since the opening of Frankfort High School in 1976. Both fortunately and unfortunately, there would be a winner, but also a loser.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - At the conclusion of three quarters on Senior Night at Keyser, Frankfort clung to a slim 40-39 lead over the host Tornado.  Up to that point, the contest can best be described as a “back and forth” affair.  The stage was set for a dramatic close finish between these two who have been rivals since the opening of Frankfort High School in 1976. Both fortunately and unfortunately, there would be a winner, but also a loser.
Frankfort won the first matchup between the two in Short Gap with a comfortable, 56-39 victory back on Jan. 17. There would be nothing comfortable about this 50-46 victory over Keyser, not against a Black and Gold squad who entered the contest with four-straight victories and fresh off a huge blowout win (61-36) of sectional opponent Philip Barbour. Not against a Keyser squad with ten plus seniors on the roster during Senior Night.
After the game, Frankfort coach Scott Slider pointed out the difference between game one in Short Gap and the just-finished game two in Keyser.  According to Slider, “I think they are better, and obviously while we’re playing here on their court, I think they’re getting better. I think we’re better too. But there was a lot of emotion in tonight’s ball game because it’s one of the last times they’re supposed to play on their home court. Of course, we could play them again in the playoffs and it could be a totally different story.”
The first quarter started the way the first matchup left off, with Frankfort in control. The Falcons hit four three-pointers in five attempts in the first frame, two by JJ Blank, and one each by Isaiah Knotts and Brock Robinette, to jump out to a 17-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. Keyser’s PJ Kennedy scored the first two buckets of the game to propel the Black and Gold to a 4-0 lead and make clear that Keyser came to play. Frankfort, however, responded the rest of the way as they outscored the home team by six in the game’s first eight minutes.
In the second quarter, this time it would be Keyser finishing strong in the quarter to take a 30-26 lead heading into the locker rooms at halftime. The Golden Tornado would go on a 9-0 run at the end of the quarter to take the lead into intermission.  
With Frankfort up 26-24 with 1:57 remaining in the half, Keyser’s Darrick Broadwater was fouled approaching the basket from the right side, went to the line, and hit the first of two shots to inch Keyser closer ay 26-25.  After a missed three-point shot by Frankfort, Keyser drove the length of the court, then Ryan Shoemaker hit a three-pointer with 1:10 remaining in the half to give Keyser the 38-26 lead. Darrick Broadwater would make a steal, feed the ball to Amare Kennedy who then passed the ball back to Broadwater who scored the half’s final two points to put Keyser up 30-26 at the half.
With the game tied 34-34 with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter, PJ Kennedy hit two free throws to put Keyser up 36-34. The Falcons’ David Blanco would tie the game at 36-36 eight seconds later, after connecting on a bucket that saw him go up strong to earn the points. A free throw by Keyser’s Ryan Shoemaker and two-point bucket by Shawn See were countered by buckets from Frankfort’s Brock Robinette and David Blanco as the Falcons took the 40-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
With Frankfort clinging to a one-point lead entering the fourth, Keyser’s PJ Kennedy sprung into action, hitting a field goal with 6:58 remaining to regain a 41-40 lead for Keyser and then stealing the ball and making a basket from the left side with 6:32 remaining to extend the Golden Tornado lead to 43-40. Then again Kennedy snagged another steal and hit a layup with 6:10 remaining to give Keyser a 45-40 lead.  
Frankfort then sprung into action of their own.  With 5:40 to go, Dave Blanco hit Jansen Knotts on a nice pass underneath, Knotts put it up successfully to narrow the Keyser lead to 45-42. With 4:17 to go, Knotts would hit two free throws to narrow the Keyser lead to one point (45-44). Knotts would hit another shot with 3:43 to go that put Frankfort on top 46-45. Amare Kennedy tied the game at 46-46 with a free throw with 3:26 remaining.
In the final 3:26 of the game, there would be only four more points scored, two on a field goal by Dave Blanco with 2:51 remaining, the other on two free throws from Jansen Knotts with 23 seconds remaining to seal the deal. Knotts scored eight of his 12 total points on the night in the fourth quarter, thus accounting for eight of Frankfort’s 10 points in the final frame.
Jansen Knotts and Dave Blanco led Frankfort in the victory with 12 points apiece. Knotts’ points came off four field goals and from going four for five from the charity stripe; Blanco hit five field goals and connected on two of four shots from the foul line. JJ Blank was next with eight points, with six of those points coming on two three-pointers in the opening frame. Brock Robinette added seven points, three on a three-pointer in the opening quarter and four points on two field goals in the third quarter.
“Jansen obviously had a man guarding him in the first half in their defense, so he had to shake that guy to get some offensive shots and so forth.  He handles that very well, he moves well off of screens and cuts hard to the basket, so we were able to find a few cuts that he made when we were getting him the ball to finish for us,” Slider stated after the contest.
“Dave, he’s a monster.  I mean, Dave’s a big boy, Shawn See is even bigger, but Dave doesn’t let that bother him, he plays hard.  Dave was able to take it right at him, what else can you ask for,” Slider stated.
Also scoring for Frankfort was Isaiah Knotts with five points, with Mason Davis and Chris Kenney tallying three points each.
In the loss, Keyser was led by PJ Kennedy with a game-high 16 points, with 10 of Kennedy’s 16 points coming in the second half.  Also scoring in double figures for the Golden Tornado was Ryan Shoemaker with 12 points; Shoemaker scored 11 of those 12 points in the second quarter with three three-pointers and a field goal. Shawn See scored six points for Keyser, two points each on one field goal in each of the first three quarters.
Darrick Broadwater and Amare Kennedy netted five points each for Keyser, while Logan Proud scored two points.
After the contest, Frankfort’s coach Slider talked about how these close games were rough on “we old guys,” referencing himself and Keyser coach John Haines Jr. This was only a four point spread, and while the last meeting in Short Gap saw Frankfort win by 17 points, Last year, however, Frankfort’s first victory at Keyser was by only one point (48-47), while the second win was by two points (56-54) at Frankfort. The victory gives Frankfort six straight varsity victories over Keyser, with two-game sweeps in each of the last three years.
The victory elevates Frankfort’s record overall to 12-3 on the season, and the Falcons have a combined perfect 8-0 record against sectional opponents Berkeley Springs, Petersburg, Grafton, Philip Barbour and Keyser.  The Falcons have outscored their opponents in total 883-680 on the season for an average score of 59-45 per game.
The loss for Keyser takes the Black and Gold’s record on the season to 10-6 overall, and snaps what was a four-game win streak for the Golden Tornado. Keyser now has a combined 4-3 record against sectional opponents Berkeley Springs, Petersburg, Grafton, Philip Barbour and Frankfort. The Golden Tornado has outscored their opponents in total 914-772 on the season for an average score of 57-48 per game.
Despite the varsity loss to Frankfort, Keyser did exact some revenge on the Falcons by winning the junior varsity game 48-38, and the freshmen contest 60-21. This represented a complete reversal of fortune for Keyser as Frankfort had won the previous matchups between the junior varsity and freshmen squads.
In the freshmen game to open the night, Keyser dominated Frankfort from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Keyser ended the first quarter with a 14-9 advantage over the Falcons. In the second frame, Keyser outscored Frankfort 16-5 to take a 30-14 halftime lead.
After intermission, Keyser outscored Frankfort 16-3 in the third quarter and 14-4 in the fourth quarter in earning the 60-21 freshmen victory.  Seth Healy led Keyser in double figures with 13 points, followed closely by Anthony Mele with 11 points and Brayden Keller with 10 points.
In addition, Michael Schell scored six points, Kaden Urice and Bub Barb four points apiece, Edan Parks three points, and Roman Favara, Tyler Lannon, Ayden Costilow, and Donovan Washington two points each.  Chris Furey added one point for the Tornado.
In the loss, Frankfort was led by Luke Robinette with 11 points, followed by Dylan Stump with four points, Tyson Spencer with three points, John Anderson with two points, and Hunter Shreve with one point.
In the junior varsity game, the second game of the night, Keyser used a huge second-half in earning the 48-38 comeback victory over Frankfort.  Keyser edged Frankfort in the first quarter 9-7 to take a small lead after the game’s first frame. Frankfort, however, dominated the second quarter of play, outscoring the host junior Tornado 11-3 in the second frame to take an 18-12 lead at the half.
The junior Tornado then exploded in the second half, outscoring Frankfort 20-7 in the third quarter and 16-13 in the fourth quarter in earning the 10-point, 48-38 victory. Vito Amoruso led the junior Tornado with 10 points, followed by Kayden Avona with eight points and Hunter Van Pelt with seven points.
In addition, Alec Stanislawczyk, Jabob Weinrich, and Lonnie Pridemore scored five points each, followed by Sammy Bradfield with four points, and Jacob Malcolm and Seth Earnest two points each.
In the loss, the junior Falcons were led by Will Toye with 12 points, followed by Bryceten Daubenmire with eight points, Bryson Lane with seven points, and Peyton Slider with five points. Finally, Jesse Hockaday and Jake Clark scored three points each.
At the varsity level, Keyser (10-6), will next travel today to Berkeley Springs to take on the Indians, with junior varsity action tipping off at 6 p.m., and varsity action beginning thereafter at 7:30 p.m.  Also at the varsity level, Frankfort will next host Allegany on Friday, Feb. 7, in triple-header action.  Freshmen play will begin at 4:30 p.m., junior varsity will tip off at 6 p.m., and varsity action follows at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday night’s battle between Frankfort and Keyser in Keyser was just another hard-fought, close contest in this storied rivalry. There is certainly the chance that the two could meet again in the sectional playoffs.  If that game goes anything like this one did, you won’t want to miss it.