High School Sports

Drew Friberg helps turn State College’s 11-point deficit into a solid boys’ basketball win

State College’s Drew Friberg passes the ball during a game against Chambersburg Wednesday at State  High.
State College’s Drew Friberg passes the ball during a game against Chambersburg Wednesday at State High. psheehan@centredaily.com

Brandon Clark couldn’t help but smile as he offered his assessment of State College teammate Drew Friberg’s latest performance Wednesday night.

Chambersburg couldn’t stop Friberg as he poured in 16 of his game-high 18 points in the third quarter to help the Little Lions take control on their way to a 57-49 victory. The Trojans watched Friberg find his rhythm during his high-scoring third quarter five nights after he torched Harrisburg for a career-high 49 points in an overtime victory.

“Honestly, I don’t think anyone can stop him in the Mid Penn,” said Clark, who added 14 points. “I can say I can check him maybe, but that’s on a good day.”

Chambersburg actually contained Friberg in the first half — the Trojans held Friberg scoreless in the first two quarters — but couldn’t match that effort in the second half. Once Friberg found his rhythm and the Little Lions started to play with an increased intensity in the third quarter, they turned an 11-point halftime deficit into a 12-point lead. Chambersburg couldn’t recover in the fourth quarter as State College improved its record to 6-0.

The Little Lions’ perfect start to the year appeared to be in danger during the first half. Chambersburg denied Friberg the ball and played solid team defense to frustrate the Little Lions, who didn’t move enough on offense and struggled to get good shots. The Trojans, meanwhile, executed on the offensive end to take a 27-16 lead into the break.

While Chambersburg outplayed State College in the first half, Little Lions coach Joe Walker said his team came out flat. The first two quarters served as a lesson for unbeaten State College early in the season.

“We learned that we got to play four quarters,” Friberg said, echoing his coach. “We can’t just rely on one big run to win us games. We got to be more consistent. We need a better start, that’s for sure. We just got to be more consistent offensively.”

State College received a spark almost immediately in the third quarter when Friberg was fouled on a pull-up jumper and went to the free-throw line with 7:36 left in the period. Friberg knocked down both free throws for his first points of the game.

That was all it took to get him going.

“I was 0-for-whatever,” Friberg said. “I couldn’t hit anything in the first half.”

But with his scoring drought behind him, Friberg kept firing. On the Little Lions’ next possession after his free throws, he missed a 3-pointer and a jump shot. He stayed aggressive, looking for his shot on most trips down the floor. Friberg finally recorded his first field goal on a transition layup to pull State College within 27-22 in the third.

An easy layup inside, a 3-pointer and two more free throws continued Friberg’s scoring spree. His teammates kept feeding him the ball — like they did during his career night against Harrisburg.

“That was probably my best game ever,” Friberg said of his 49-point effort. “I just looked to score every time I touched it, and it was just a credit to my teammates for looking for me and getting me the ball every time.”

Though he didn’t come close to another 40-point performance, his 16-point surge contributed to a game-turning third quarter. He drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 32-32 with 2:51 left in the third, then gave his team the lead on a layup off of a steal. State College added to its lead from there as Clark and guard Keaton Ellis caused havoc in the Little Lions’ full-court press.

With a comfortable lead going into the fourth, the Little Lions then held off Chambersburg to stay perfect.

“He’s just such a calming influence on our offense in terms of him handling the ball, finding the right person in the offense,” Walker said. “He’s great to have as a coach because you know what you’re going to get from him.”