Fort Frye's Shon Smith and Martins Ferry's Cody Schau are two of the best prep senior basketball players in Ohio's Eastern District.
At 7 p.m. tonight at Meadowbrook High in Byesville, they and their respective schools are scheduled to tip off in an Ohio Division III sectional final.
This week, the 5-foot-8 Smith and 6-3 Schau each was named to the Eastern All-District boys' first team. The former was also honored as Player of the Year.
Photo courtesy of Robin Pannell
Fort Fyre’s East District Player of the Year Shon Smith, right, battles Warren’s Reece Patton, left, for a loose ball during action in Belvery on Feb. 5. The Cadets are scheduled to play Martins Ferry in a sectional final at Meadowbrook tonight.
Fort Frye’s Caden Brooker, right, guards Warren’s Michael Lang (10) in a game in Beverly on Feb. 5.
"This is the second year in a row than Shon has received that honor," said first-year Fort Frye head coach Eric Henniger. "We're very proud of him.
"Shon's had a great season. He's a leader, and he's stepped it up. He always seems to play well in big games."
On the season, Smith is averaging 20.4 points per game while Schau is averaging 27.1. Both are 1,000-point career scorers with Schau reaching the milestone in Martin Ferry's 71-47 rout of Bellaire in sectional action on Feb. 20.
Going into tonight's showdown, Schau has recorded two consecutive 30-point games.
Schau and Smith probably won't be matched up man to man on the floor due to the height difference. But make no mistake about it, they will be competing against each other.
Look for Fort Frye senior Chandler Lang to shadow Schau.
"Chandler is a shutdown defender," Henniger said. "He can guard practically anybody, because he's so strong and athletic."
At Waterford last Saturday night, Lang was instrumental in shutting out the Wildcats' leading scorer Austin Shriver.
Fort Frye, the tournament's top seed with a 15-7 overall record, is coming off a 60-39 tune-up triumph over Waterford. Smith led the way with a game-high 26 points and five assists, and Lang chipped in with 11 markers, seven rebounds and five steals.
The 5-10 Lang - who is averaging 10.6 ppg - was a second team All-District honoree while 6-3 sophomore Seth Legraen was a third-teamer. Legraen is averaging 14.4 ppg.
Some other Cadets to keep an eye on will be Caden Brooker, Jordan Anderson, Dominic Omspach, Carter Kiefer, and Tyler Norris.
Not surprisingly, Jeff Sabatino-coached and No. 4-seeded Martins Ferry (11-8) is not a one-man show - far from it. Against Bellaire, 6-4 junior power forward Robert Vargo, an honorable mention district pick, recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 caroms.
The Purple Riders' other starters - Emilio Appolloni, Tyler Strama, and Jake Barritt - each had eight points.
So, Martins Ferry, like Fort Frye, is relatively balanced scoring.
"Martins Ferry is a really good team," Henniger said. "They play a lot of big schools. Right now, they're healthy, and that's scary."