Frankfort denied state bid by heartbreaking OT loss in Clay County

Chapin Jewell
Special to the News Tribune
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CLAY, W.Va. - The Frankfort boys’ basketball squad likely saved their best for last. With an unexpected loss to Moorefield in the sectional final, the Falcons, as they’ve been all year, became road warriors. Having to travel over three hours away to face a tough Clay County squad, let’s face it, there backs were against the wall.

Then Frankfort did something a lot of people weren’t expecting them to do. With many expecting the Falcons to be deflated mentally and playing in a tough environment, the Columbia Blue and Silver-clad lads played their guts out, putting in their best performance of the year.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “All is not fair in love and war,” After what observers witnessed in the Clay County gymnasium Thursday night, let it be said that, “All is also not fair in basketball.”

It didn’t unravel for Frankfort until the literal waning seconds of the contest. With the Falcons clinging to a three-point lead (55-52), the unthinkable happened. Clay’s Colten Pritt buried a long three, banking it in off the backboard in fact, at the buzzer essentially, to force overtime.

Emotionally spent at that point, Frankfort fought hard in the overtime but Clay County, with all the momentum at that point, as just too much to handle. The Panthers outscored Frankfort 15-5 in the overtime period to earn the 70-60 victory, and a trip to Charleston for the state basketball tournament.

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“Hats off to our kids, they played great. They did exactly what we asked them to do all night long. It’s a shame it was a 10-point margin, because that was not a 10-point margin, it was more like a one-point game,” Frankfort coach Scott Slider stated.

“It sucks when a three-point shot beats you, but it really sucks when a bank shot beats you. Otherwise, we’re going to Charleston next week. But you know what, that’s a great basketball team that we just played hard against. Congratulations to them, I hope they do well down at the state tournament,” Slider offered.

Though certainly upset about the loss and having a trip to the state tournament slip through his team’s grips in the waning seconds essentially, Slider was beaming with pride about the effort and resiliency of his squad.

According to Slider, “Our kids played their butts off tonight. They did everything that we asked them to do. They stuck to our game plan. We ran great offense, we played really, really solid defense, we rebounded fairly well. Our kids did excellent, they did everything we asked them to do.”

“When you play good defense, it always translates into good offense. Then, when we executed well, we got good looks, we got open shooters, we got good paint touches, the bigs kicked it back out to the perimeter guys, and they got good looks,” Slider explained.

In victory, Clay County was led by four players in double figures. Colten Pritt, who banked in the three-pointer to force overtime, finished with a game-high 18 points. Curtis Litton finished

just behind with 17 points; Tanner Faulkner finished with 14 points; Ethan Burkhamer concluded with 10 points.

In the loss, Frankfort was led by Brock Robinette and Jake Clark, each with a team-high 15 points. Brady Whitacre followed close behind in double figures with 12 points. Bryson Lane and Jansen Moreland tallied six points apiece, Peyton Slider four points, and Colton McTaggart two points for the Falcons.

Clay County opened with a slight 16-15 advantage at the end of the first period. Frankfort responded with a fantastic second period, out scoring the Panthers 21-13 to take a 36-29 lead into intermission.

A 10-9 advantage in the third period gave the Falcons a 46-38 lead entering the fourth frame. In the fourth period, Clay would tie it at the buzzer. In the overtime period, it was all Clay as the Panthers earned the 70-60 victory.

“We’ve been road warriors. This is game 11 on the road. We played four games at home. We lost three games on the schedule due to COVID, and they were all home games. It’s been tough, but that’s why we came out and played strong tonight, because we play in different gyms all the time.”

According to Slider, “These kids, every year, after you’ve had kids three or four years, you build a bond. These are great kids. I love every single one of them. They’re in great spirits all the time, they have fun in the locker room talking. They’ve been great kids, all the time. They’re smart kids too, and that makes a difference.”

Frankfort now looks to the off-season and to next year and what the future may bring.

“Looking ahead, I think we will again have some kids that we can count on, that are going to be helpful in the future. We have a small junior class, but we have kids that have been with it all the way through who are probably going to stay with it with no problem. We have sophomores who are strong and will help us that did get some key minutes. The freshman that we stuck in there at the end, he has a lot of potential.”

It was a tough, heart-breaking loss for sure, but if ever there’s been a time where a team has lost a game but ended things on a high note, it’s this one.