By CONOR NICHOLL
Frontenac boys’ basketball is off to a great start in 2021-2022 under first year head coach Jared Pile.
The Raiders have their first 6-1 start in at least 13 years, per MaxPreps archives. The only comparable one in that stretch came in ’19-20 when the Raiders opened 7-2.
Last season, Frontenac opened 0-2. In 17-18 and 18-19, Frontenac started 0-6 and 0-3. This marks just the second time in the last eight years Frontenac has been over .500 after six games. FHS also traditionally plays a really tough schedule out of the gate against teams 2-to-7 times their size in enrollment and from out of state and that’s no different this season. The Raiders only loss is to Glendale (Mo) who is 9-3 on the year in Missouri. Glendale has 1,423 students in their high school while the Raiders have 285.
Last Friday, Frontenac beat Galena, 63-51. On Friday, Frontenac was supposed to have a key game with 4-1 Girard in a key CNC matchup but the games will be made up due to several schools not being in session due to the pandemic. Both Frontenac and Girard are in the Prairie View sub-state where the top-five squads are above .500. Galena was last years state runner-up but both Frontenac and Galena were short-handed in the game with Tyler Little (Galena) out and Jordan Fudge/Collin McCartney out for the Raiders. But it does give you an idea how deep the Raiders roster is for 2022.
Frontenac opened with 58-56 in overtime versus Nevada (Mo.). Then the Raiders won 69-49 against Riverton, 69-31 against Baxter Springs and 76-47 versus Carl Junction (Mo.).
The only defeat came in 71-61 loss to Glendale (Mo.). However, Frontenac rebounded with a 63-60 against Richmond (Mo.) and finished third in the Mustang Classic basketball in McDonald County, Mo. in December.
Then, the Raiders earned a 63-51 win against Galena on Jan. 7, though both teams were without at least one key player.
Frontenac is now ranked ninth in 3A in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association in the latest poll released Wednesday. Frontenac was not ranked before Christmas.
Frontenac has gone up and down with wins since 2010-11. The Raiders finished 4-17 in 2010-11. Since then, the Raiders are 12-9, 12-9, 6-16, 12-11, 7-14, 14-9, 11-12, 7-12, 17-6, and 13-7 last season. Frontenac last made state in both 2017 and 2018.
Before this season, Frontenac was 0-4 against Nevada since 2013. Frontenac was 0-2 against Carl Junction since ’06 with losses in ’16 and ’17.
Frontenac had lost four in a row to Galena and was 1-7 in the last eight games. Frontenac is a viable 3A final four contender. The Raiders were state football runner-up to Andale. Last winter, Frontenac lost to Galena in the second round of sub-state.
Frontenac returned four all-league players: junior Mario Menghini, 6-8 senior Jordan Fudge, senior Collin McCartney and Landon Dean. Menghini, McCartney and Dean were all-state football picks. The 6-5 Dean was consensus Top 11 and the 3A Defensive Player of the Year. Dean is not on the roster this year due to signing with Oklahoma State and potentially enrolling early but the Raiders have much more than what is mentioned above. The Raiders also feature standout twins Michael and Aaron Doria who are key players to watch this season for FHS. Brody O’Malley, Kaston Fields & Austin Parish also play key roles for the Raiders. Lane Sullivan, a junior, Vinny Pile & Trey Cramer, sophomores, have also been contributing solid minutes.