PENN LAIRD – After winning all but two games against Spotswood High School this season, the Indians had little to prove on Tuesday night. Will Henderson, on the other hand, proved he could be a handful in the post alongside 6-foot-5 Fort Defiance teammate Ian Jarvis.
Henderson scored 10 unanswered points in the first quarter to snap the second-seeded Indians out of an early funk and ended up with his first double-double: a career-high 14 points and 11 rebounds in a 67-42 victory over sixth-seeded Broadway in the Valley District semifinals.
It was the Gobblers who had a 12-0 lead within the first three minutes after scoring on their first five shots, including 10 points from senior guard Austin Phares on four field goals.
“You never know in a situation like this,” Fort coach Larry Leonard said. “You guys have convinced everybody that this whole thing is meaningless. Kids read that stuff. It’s hard for you to physically and mentally get ready to play.
“… We went to the bench and good thing Will Henderson came in with some energy, got us started a little bit. That was a big point in the ball game. Once we got on the board and got rolling, everybody else kind of caught fire a little bit and we went from there.”
Fort (21-2) advances to face No. 1 seed Spotswood in the championship game, which is scheduled for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Penn Laird. The undefeated Trailblazers have handed Fort both of its losses this season.
The opportunity to play SHS a third time this season without any bearing on the playoffs would be nice for the Indians. But the two top teams in Conference 29 may need a miracle with a large snowstorm forecasted for tonight.
Then again, Fort coach Larry Leonard is OK with not playing the game.
“What it does is it gives you two days to prepare for next week, which I think is equally important,” Leonard said.
Phares, who led the Gobblers (8-14) with 14 points, picked up his third foul in the first minute of the second quarter. He had four fouls going into the fourth.
After hitting its first five shots, BHS closed the first half 3-for-22. Meanwhile, Fort shot 50 percent overall (26-for-52).
Junior guard Brendan Crowe led the Indians with 18 points, and Jarvis added 11.
“We didn’t hit shots. We didn’t hit free throws,” BHS coach Dwight Walton said. “If you get down on a good team, you’re not going to come back on them. … When you get down on a good team like them, they’re going to punish you inside.”
Skidmore 2 0-1 4, Mills 2 3-4 7, Phares 6 0-0 14, Reedy 0 4-10 4, Hahn 3 0-0 7, Delawder 3 0-0 7, Garland 1 0-0 2, Pacheco 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 9-17 42.
Harris 1 0-0 2, Crowe 7 2-3 18, Glenn 2 0-0 4, Simmons 3 0-0 8, Jarvis 5 1-2 11, W. Henderson 4 6-9 14, C. Henderson 1 0-0 2, Hanger 2 0-0 5, Van Lear 1 0-0 3. Totals: 26 9-14 67.
Broadway 13 8 13 8 – 42
Fort Defiance 13 15 24 15 – 67
3-Pointers—BHS 3 (Phares 2, Hahn); Fort 6 (Crowe 2, Simmons 2, Hanger, Van Lear). Fouls—BHS 15; Lee 15. Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Lee 30 (Reedy 11); Fort 41 (W. Henderson 11).