FREDERICKTOWN – With a major frontcourt presence forced out of the lineup, the Fredericktown boys basketball team could take nothing for granted against struggling Arcadia Valley.
Forwards Matthew Starkey and Riley Fraire secured crucial rebounds down the stretch on Tuesday, and the Blackcats escaped with their second narrow victory in as many nights.
Andrew Starkey produced 18 points, four steals and four assists, and Fredericktown withstood a flurry of early 3-pointers by the visiting Tigers to prevail 50-48.
Fraire added 12 points, including a pair of free throws that snapped a 47-47 tie with 1:15 remaining, and Matthew Starkey compiled eight points, nine rebounds and three assists.
Their production was magnified after athletic forward Cohlbe Dunnahoo injured an ankle in practice on Sunday and did not play.
Fredericktown (8-6), which edged Jefferson 50-46 on Monday, committed only seven turnovers against the Tigers and needed every ounce of that discipline to seal the win.
Junior forward Jackson Dement knocked down one tough shot after another during the fourth quarter, and powered Arcadia Valley (4-11) with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Neither team enjoyed a lead greater than five points once the second quarter began, and the outcome ultimately hinged on shot selection over the last two minutes.
The Tigers narrowly missed on a couple of potential go-ahead, 3-point attempts, then fouled once the Blackcats secured the resulting rebounds.
Fraire missed a front-end free throw with his team ahead by three, but Matthew Starkey controlled the carom and immediately dished to Jerry Couch for the clinching basket through contact.
Senior guard Willie Carter drained a cosmetic 3-pointer – his fourth of the game – as time expired, and tallied 14 points plus a game-high seven assists for AV.
Sophomore Gavan Douglas buried a 28-footer at the halftime buzzer to forge a 29-29 deadlock, and put the visitors ahead 41-37 on his fourth connection from long range.
Fredericktown answered to pull even by executing solid interior passes from Isaac Smith to Fraire and Andrew Starkey to his older brother.
Dement lifted the Tigers with two subsequent tiebreaking shots, a nifty turnaround over two defenders in the paint and a stellar baseline fade from a nearly impossible angle.
He was matched at the opposite goal by a driving layup from Andrew Starkey and strong putback from Matthew Starkey that squared the contest yet again at 45-45.
Arcadia Valley was plagued by seven turnovers over 10 possessions in the third quarter, but remained right on the heels of the Blackcats before eventually moving ahead 38-37 on a Dement basket.
The Tigers turned their promising start into an 18-9 lead as three field goals by Dement in the post were balanced by two 3-pointers each from Carter and Douglas.
Andrew Starkey was heavily guarded beyond the arc in the early minutes, but ignited his squad by racing the length of the court to finish off broken pressure before scoring again on an ensuing steal.
Matthew Starkey continued a 16-4 push by the Blackcats with an open 3-pointer, then fired a skip pass toward sophomore Zander Stephens, whose triple gave them a 25-22 lead.
Stephens bolstered Fredericktown with eight points, and hustled his way to three early rebounds. He also stole an inbounds pass that led to a transition layup.
The home team benefited from shooting 9-of-13 at the line while Hunter Myracle converted the only two free throws attempted all night by Arcadia Valley.
The Tigers have dropped 10 of their last 11 games, competing without both Dement and Carter for a significant part of that stretch.