FAYETTE BOYS: Hilltop hit a seven-minute scoring drought in the second half Friday at Fayette, easing the Eagles' way to a 40-27 Senior Night victory and a league title all to themselves.
Five seniors started the game—with regular starter Zayne Colegrove taking a turn on the bench—and all six were taken out of the game one by one in the waning minutes with a victory in hand.
The Eagles were on top by only a point after a quarter, 8-7, but Fayette controlled the ball for most of the period. Tyler Cox hit a pair of field goals in the second quarter, and combined with a three-pointer from Justin Stoltzfus and three free throws from Logan Franks, the Eagles went into the break ahead by five.
Fayette's third quarter made all the difference in the game.
"We put more pressure on them and offensively we attacked the basket more," said coach Todd Mitchell.
The result was only a single bucket for the Cadets as Fayette's lead grew to 13. More than seven minutes passed without any scoring by Hilltop and Fayette's lead climbed to 20 points.
Hilltop's Willis put nine fourth-quarter points on the board to close the gap to the final 13 points.
For the second time this season, Fayette junior Tyler Cox blocked nine shots against the Cadets. He also made five steals.
JV BOYS: Fayette's JV boys opened the game Friday with a press against Hilltop and the Cadets scored only a pair of free throws in the first quarter. The third quarter was a repeat and the Eagles went on to take a lop-sided 46-13 league win to remain unbeaten in the BBC.
"Skylar Lantz started it off," said coach Matt Maginn. "We were pressing right off the bat and he got turnovers and laid them in."
Lantz scored four buckets that quarter as Fayette went on top 11-2.
Jerad Seiler came through with three baskets in the second quarter as the contest continued to grow out of hand.
Hilltop had only eight points at half-time and Maginn challenged his team to keep the final score under 16. They got the job done.
"We concentrated on attacking the basket and it worked," Maginn said. "We took a lot of good shots inside."
Seiler finished with seven rebounds, Tristen Bates collected five and Marcus Stoltzfus had four.
Fayette claimed an 11-point win against Pettisville in January, but Coach Maginn expects a tougher challenge Friday since the Blackbirds have a couple players back in the lineup who didn't play the first time around. The Eagles will be looking to wrap up an undefeated BBC schedule.
FAYETTE GIRLS: Maybe it was the exciting win against Delta earlier in the week, said Fayette’s girls coach Tim Nicely. Whatever the cause, Fayette spoiled its final regular season contest by falling to Hilltop, 54-42.
“I have to give Hilltop credit,” Nicely said. “They have a nice ball club.”
They also have a good set of free-throw shooters, canning 24 of 29 for the night and 14 of 17 in the final quarter when they pushed ahead for the win.
“We shot about 25 percent from the field,” Nicely said. “You’re not going to beat too many teams shooting like that.”
The Eagles led by a point at intermission, but trailed 34-31 after three quarters before the foul shot bonanza began.
None of Fayette’s shooters made it out of double figures and Mikayla Smith’s nine points led the way.
The Eagles only consolation was a gift from Stryker. The Panthers beat Pettisville Friday giving Fayette the league crown to itself despite the loss to Hilltop.
However, it’s Stryker that Fayette will face Saturday in the first week of tournament play.
“We better be playing four quarters of basketball or the season could end abruptly,” said Nicely.
DELTA—A pair of lopsided quarters kept fans wondering what was next when Delta visited Fayette last Tuesday for senior night.
The Eagles crawled out of an 18-point deficit to pull within two points at the end of three quarters, then hung on for an exciting 58-56 non-league win.
A close game turned sour for Fayette when Delta went on a 16-0 rampage in the second quarter, but after the break the Eagles put together a 15-2 run to tighten it back up. Smith hit four buckets that quarter while Paige Keefer and Taylor Griffiths each added a pair.
In the final quarter, Alexis Fruchey tied it at 42-42 and again at 44-44. The pattern continued with Delta scoring and Fayette catching up.
Finally, with time running out and the scored tied at 56-56, the Panthers missed their turn to re-gain the lead. Fayette got possession with five seconds to play and called timeout.
The inbound pass went to Griffiths who drove to the basket and put a lay-up through the net as the buzzer sounded.
JV GIRLS: Fayette’s JV girls wrapped up the season on a low note, dropping their final two games of the year.
The Eagles got off to a weak offensive start Friday at Hilltop, scoring only three buckets in the first half and trailing by six points at intermission.
Fayette could gain only one point on the Cadets in the second half and lost 30-25.
Maddie Maginn went three-for-three from the line and led scoring with seven points.
DELTA—Fayette outscored Delta 24-19 in the second half last Tuesday, but it wasn’t quite enough to recover from a weak first half. The Panthers stayed on top to win 35-30.
The Eagles connected for only three buckets in the first half and trailed 16-6, but the offense got into gear after the break. Five players put points on the scoreboard in the third quarter to make it 27-18. In the final period, Adriana Hylander scored a three-point shot and Katelyn Bates hit three buckets to give Fayette a 12-8 advantage, but not quite enough to catch up.
Bates finished with 14 points.
MORENCI BOYS: Morenci’s come-from-behind victory last week against Whitmore Lake gave the Bulldogs three consecutive victories—four wins in the last five games—but that’s where it ended.
A trip to Summerfield on Friday resulted in a disappointing offensive showing and a 58-46 loss. The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 5-12 for the season.
“It was a roller coaster game,” coach Jim Bauer said about the visit from Whitmore Lake, “but we weathered the storm.”
In the end, Morenci was on top 64-53.
After playing closely in the first quarter, Morenci opened up the game with a 21-9 second quarter. The Trojans reversed that with a 23-10 third quarter and were on top 44-42 to start the final period.
“They were having a tough time with our zone in the first half,” Bauer said. “In the third quarter their 6-4 kid started shooting deep to stretch out our zone.”
The Trojans’ McGibbon connected on a pair of three-point shots. Bauer called time out, thinking he wouldn’t continue his good marksmanship. That wasn’t the case, though, as he popped in two more from outside the arc.
Bauer assigned Hayze Wolf the job of stopping McGibbon, and the Trojan never scored again.
Trailing by three in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs were stymied by three consecutive turnovers. They finally made their move with four minutes remaining.
Wolf scored and was fouled. His bonus point gave Morenci the lead and they never gave it up. Austin Sandusky hit a pair of free throws before Wolf got a steal and delivered an assist to Alex Thomas. On the next trip down the floor, Hunter Borton sank a three-pointer and Wolf soon added two foul shots to give Morenci a 58-48 lead with 1:46 to play.
The Trojans answered with a three-pointer, but Torin Merillat found Borton wide open for a field goal. Merillat and Sandusky each hit a pair of free throws to finish off the win.
Sandusky was good on five of six free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. Wolf shot four for five for the game and Merillat hit five of seven. Four Bulldogs ended in double figures.
The Bulldogs played with the enthusiasm needed to win, Bauer said, as they crashed the boards and hustled up and down the court.
They also had a decent shooting night, and that’s what was lacking Friday at Summerfield.
Morenci shot only three for 12 in the first quarter and trailed by eight, 18-10. By half-time, Summerfield’s lead had stretched to 14 points.
Thomas scored a pair of buckets and Wolf made a field goal and free throw to cut the lead to eight points, but that’s all the closer Morenci could come.
The Bulldogs picked up the intensity, but couldn’t come up with the points to match the effort.
JV BOYS: Morenci JV boys came from behind twice last week to claim league wins as the season winds down.
Whitmore Lake had the lead after three quarters, but the Bulldogs forged ahead in the final period for a 54-50 victory.
“We really played to the level of our opponents, but I’m proud of the fourth quarter fight to get a win,” coach Jed Hall said.
Aaron Elarton led the offense with 20, including an eight-for-nine showing from the line, and Bladen Mellon added 18.
SUMMERFIELD— It took a 14-1 third quarter for the Bulldogs to get back in the game Thursday against Summerfield and take a 36-25 lead. Morenci added eight free throws in the fourth quarter—while missing 10—to stay on top.
Missed lay-ups and unforced turnovers put the Bulldogs in the hole early, but strong play in the second half led to a 46-36 win.
“I thought it was our best team game,” Coach Hall said. “We took fewer individual shots and got more team shots, then took care of business when it mattered.”
Mellon led with 19 points and Elarton added 13.
SAND CREEK—The Bulldogs took a 17-11 lead Feb. 5 against the Aggies, but it didn’t hold. With three Morenci starters on the bench due to foul trouble, Sand Creek went on an 11-0 run and took a lead they never gave up. The Aggies finished on top 49-47.
Mellon and Elarton each scored 14 points.
ARBOR PREP—Morenci kept pace for a quarter Feb. 9 at Arbor Prep, but the Gators erupted for 19 points in the second quarter to take an 11-point lead.
Arbor Prep only made it worse in the second half and claimed a 67-48 win.
Mellon scored 19 points, with Danny Hunt adding 11 and Tucker Stover finishing with 10.
“We didn't do enough defensively to get wins,” Hall said about the two losses. “We traded buckets too often and didn’t box out well.”
After playing Britton-Deerfield at home Friday, the JV squad wraps up the season Tuesday with a trip to Hudson.
MORENCI GIRLS: Just when it appeared to be falling apart, Morenci's girls turned things around to post a 39-37 league victory Tuesday at Whitmore Lake.
The Bulldogs held a narrow lead after a quarter and trailed by a point at half-time, but the Trojans’ Milliman came out of the locker room to score eight points in the third quarter and Morenci fell behind by 10 at one point.
Now it was Hannah Jeffers' turn to shine. She hit her first bucket of the contest—a three-point basket—followed by a two and then another three. Sydney Weeks scored also and the Trojans' lead slipped to three points heading into the final period.
Jeffers wasn't finished. She scored two more threes and added a pair of free throws. Emma Binegar added a three and Ali Piercy scored a pair of buckets to help lead the Bulldogs to a win.
Jeffers finished the game with 16 points, all in the second half, and collected a dozen rebounds. Piercy and Weeks each scored seven.
SUMMERFIELD—The excitement of the Whitmore Lake game vanished Friday at Summerfield when the Bulldogs' scoring problems returned. Summerfield claimed a 41-24 win.
"Most games our defense is pretty solid," coach Tim Yatzek said. "We're not usually giving up a ton of points. We've cut down on turnovers quite a lot since the start of the season. We're just having a hard time putting the ball in the hole."
The Bulldogs turned the ball over only eight times in both of the last two contests. His freshmen Weeks and Ashtyn Mathews are both taking care of the ball now, he said, and the team is doing a lot of things right to win games—except on the scoring end.
It looked like anybody's game after a quarter, with Summerfield leading 7-5, but Morenci continued with single-digit quarters while the host team scored 15 points in the second quarter and 14 in the third.
Piercy's six points were tops for the Bulldogs. She had at four for four performance at the line, drawing fouls as she played an aggressive inside game. Chloe Molitierno scored a four-point play in the second quarter when she was fouled on a successful three-point shot. Jeffers made four steals.
JV GIRLS: Morenci’s junior varsity girls basketball team trounced Whitmore Lake last week and followed that up with a close loss against Summerfield.
Teams that were posting big wins against the Bulldogs in the first half of the season are now facing a much improved Morenci squad, said coach Jim Yatzek.
“We had a good win on a long road trip,” Yatzek said about the 25-11 victory over Whitmore Lake.
Brooke Baumgartner led scoring with nine points.
Friday at Summerfield, Morenci fell 35-30 despite a big offensive night for Courtney Fletcher who scored 16 points.
“We’ve been dealing with full court pressure much better,” Coach Yatzek said. “The second half of the season, the girls have been competitive in all but one game.”