FAYETTE GIRLS BASKETBALL: The slow start was a problem, but the real killer came later at the free throw line. Edon put 21 of 38 tries through the hoop Friday night to post a 54-44 victory over Fayette’s girls in the league opener for both schools.
The Eagles had only nine points on the scoreboard at intermission, but came roaring back in the second half to make it a game.
“We played well in the fourth quarter,” coach Ashley Oyer said, “but we need to do a better job of coming out ready to score. You can’t score nine points in a half and expect to be successful.”
The Eagle offense found the basket only three times on 29 first-half shots. After the break, they hit a strong 15 for 33 from the floor and came through with a 25-point final period.
What made the difference was the Bombers’ success at the line, sinking 21 of 38 attempts. Fayette hit only four of 16.
Scoring was spread around the Eagle offense with Katelyn Downing leading the way with 12. Heather Cuff added eight. Rachel Seiler and Jacy Lewellen each scored seven.
Seiler finished the night with seven rebounds and two steals. Heather Cuff collected seven rebounds and Lewellen had five.
FAYETTE & MORENCI BOYS BASKETBALL: Down by 10, four minutes to play, and Morenci couldn’t penetrate Fayette’s defense.
The Bulldogs missed a shot from outside, then turned the ball over and went down by 11 points after committing a foul.
But it wasn’t over with yet. Morenci pulled to within three points with half a minute play before Fayette pulled out the non-conference win, 72-67. The contest was the season opener for both teams.
“We had our chances to put it away, but we missed some free throws,” Fayette coach Todd Mitchell said. “The Morenci kids kept coming back and coming back.”
Bulldog coach Tim Bovee liked that come-back effort.
“The kids responded well but we just couldn’t quite get over the hump,” he said. “But it showed me they have the desire to get the job done. We did a lot of good things. They played with heart and they played tough.”
The Bulldogs were up by a point after a quarter and stayed within three points of the Eagles at the end of the second.
Fayette put together some runs in the third quarter. A 7-2 spurt gave them a nine-point lead and later an 8-2 run put them on top by 11, 55-44, with two minutes left in the third.
Clayton Wolf went four for four from the line and Fayette responded with a turnover and a charge.
Isaac Jeffers opened the final period for the Bulldogs with a bucket, Darrell Randall responded for the Eagles, then Nate Schaffner canned a three for Morenci to trim Fayette’s lead to 57-53.
Randall soon went four for four at the line to push the lead back to 10, but the Bulldogs still had some surprises.
Sophomore Luke Craig sank a pair of three-point shots, but Trevor Cox and Tyler Keefer hit buckets to keep Fayette in the lead.
Wolf picked up a rebound and scored with 30 seconds to play to pull within three, 70-67. Keefer hit one of two free throws to make it four points and Morenci lost possession on a charge.
The Eagles turned the ball over on a long pass but the Bulldogs missed a final attempt.
Fayette’s nine fourth-quarter free throws kept them on top and fit into a goal of Mitchell’s.
“We want to make more free throws than our opponent attempts,” he said.
In this case, the Eagles converted 23 of 40 attempts while Morenci made 11 of 16.
“It’s hard to win with an opponent going to the line that often,” Bovee said.
Morenci’s early four trouble forced them to back off on the pressure in the second quarter and Bovee turned to his bench to give the starters some time off.
Mitchell was pleased with the big showing from Randall (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Keefer (24 points, nine rebounds and taking three charges).
He also spoke highly of the tough guard play from Wolf, who led the Bulldogs with 24 points.
Bovee expects the Eagles to have a good season and he was impressed with the way they attacked the basket.
Mitchell, in turn, spoke highly of his opponent.
“I was impressed with the Morenci kids,” he said. “They should win a lot of games this season.”
JVS: Fayette and Morenci battle down to the wire in the varsity boys contest Monday, but that wasn’t the case in the junior varsity game.
Fayette was pulling well into the league by half-time, then put the contest out of reach for good in the third quarter. A 21-5 advantage that quarter boosted the Eagles to a 63-30 non-conference win to open the season for both squads.
Fayette’s big freshman Kruce Miller scored nine first-quarter points for a 15-10 lead. Zayne Colegrove put eight on the board in the third quarter when the Eagles ran away with it.
Miller led all scorers with 13 points and Colegrove added 10 for Fayette. Brad Funchion paced the Bulldogs with 10 points, while Tyler Benjamin and Alex Tompkins each added six. Tompkins nailed a pair of three-pointers.
Both teams shot about 50 percent from the line.
MORENCI GIRLS BASKETBALL: Close in the first quarter and on into the second quarter. Still a tight game through the third period.
Morenci and Hudson’s girls were a perfect match for each other until the final minutes of the contest.
Finally, the Bulldogs built a small lead and pushed it to eight with two minutes to play. Even a margin that small seemed decisive in the contest.
The Tigers trimmed it back to four with a minute to play, giving Morenci (1-1) a 47-43 lead, but neither team scored again.
“We need to learn to keep in pushing once we get that lead,” said coach Tim Yatzek, “rather than letting them get back in the game.”
The Bulldogs took their fourth-quarter advantage when Mercedez McCaskey hit her third three-point of the evening with a little over five minutes to play.
The Tigers answered with a bucket but lost possession on a block by Tia Tompkins. Meghan Smith made it 45-39, Morenci, and Hudson turned the ball over on an inbound pass under heavy pressure from the Bulldog defense.
Tompkins scored for the eight-point lead, but then Morenci missed a shot, turned the ball over and committed a foul at the Tigers came back to within four. The Tigers couldn’t find the bucket after that.
Coach Yatzek was pleased with the reduction in turnovers compared with the Addison game, but he would still like so that tally fall.
“A lot of them weren’t forced,” he noted. “There were mental mistakes, like shuffling the feet.”
Tompkins collected six offensive and four defensive rebounds and made at least three blocks. Chanler McCaskey made four steals and Smith tallied three. Mercedez McCaskey finished the night with five rebounds.
Yatzek will gladly take the non-conference win, but he knows there’s a lot of work to do before the league season opens Thursday at home for Parent’s Night.
The Bulldogs’ small squad will be without the services of Tess Ramsey who suffered a knee injury in the second quarter.
The preliminary assessment takes her out of action for a week or two, and Yatzek hopes it’s nothing more serious than that.
MORENCI WRESTLING: One champion and two other placers; not a bad start for Morenci’s young wrestling team.
“We took eight kids and placed seventh of 12 teams,” coach Scott Clark said about the Bulldogs’ trip Saturday to the Blissfield Invitational. “Our stats overall don’t look that good, but we didn’t do too badly. It went pretty well.”
For some members of the squad, the event was the first time they ever stepped onto a wrestling mat to compete.
“There are some little things they can work on now that they’ve seen the mat,” Clark said. “There are things we can fix.”
The Bulldogs’ experienced senior, Dustin Roller, breezed through the day for a championship in the 135-pound class.
Roller started off by pinning a Summit Academy foe in 2:15 and followed that up by stopping a Madison opponent at 3:59.
In the finals, Roller got his pin at 1:24 against a wrestler from Wayne Memorial.
At 125 pounds, Branden Myers scored a pair of pins on his way to a fourth-place finish. He dropped the opener 4-10 to Wayne Memorial but came back to top a Milan wrestler at 2:59. Next he faced teammate John Michael Martinez and scored a pin at 4:23. In the finals he fell to the same Wayne opponent, this time in less than a minute.
Jordan Bach also scored two pins with his fourth-place finish at 215 pounds. He topped a Madison wrestler at 2:22, then lost to Summit Academy when a tie match became a pin at 2:53.
He defeated a different Madison foe at 2:19, but had trouble with a Manchester opponent in the finals to lose in 56 seconds.
Other scoring points for the Bulldogs were Kyle Clegg (152) with a pin at :51 against Inner City Baptist and Martinez with a pin at 3:16 against Monroe St. Mary’s Catholic Central.
Others competing were Tyler Arnett, Cody Powell and Brandt Kelley.