FAYETTE BOYS: By DAVID GREEN
Fans are surely getting their money’s worth from following the varsity Fayette boys this season, said coach Todd Mitchell. All he gets is a case of the jitters.
The Eagles played one more nail-biter Friday that went down to the last shot—after shot, after shot. The game was tied after regulation play, then tied again after the first overtime.
Finally, with two seconds to play, Chandler Sanford hit a bucket to give Fayette a 49-47 win to end league play.
“We could have won it in regulation if we had just made a few free throws,” Mitchell said.
Actually, the Eagles did make more than a few free throws—14 shots found their mark—but they also missed 12. The Blackbirds didn’t get quite as many chances, but came through with 10 of 18 attempts.
Mitchell was upset with his squad’s perimeter defense that allowed Pettisville’s Valdez to score four three-point shots in the first half. Changes were made and Valdez never scored in the second half, although two other players helped fill the gap from outside.
The Eagles fell behind 7-0 at the start and trailed 11-8 after Zayne Colegrove hit a half-court shot as the quarter ended. Pettisville finished up the first half with a 23-20 advantage and led by six to start the fourth quarter.
Tyler Cox scored a bucket followed by a two and a three from Logan Franks to put the Eagles on top by a point. Fayette was on top 40-37 with 26 seconds to play, but the Blackbirds tied the game on a three-point shot.
In the first overtime, Pettisville jumped ahead on a three-pointer. The Eagles scored only four free throws—two each from Colegrove and Cox—but that was enough to keep the game knotted in a tie.
It took Sanford’s bucket with time running out in the second overtime session to give Fayette the win and a perfect league record.
“Everybody attacked the basket really well,” Mitchell said. “We hope to keep that rolling into the tournament.”
Cole Burkholder collected 10 rebounds and Cox finished with eight. Cox also made five blocks and three steals.
FAYETTE GIRLS: It was no decisive victory when Fayette opened its tournament season Saturday with a 43-39 win over Stryker, but that was no surprise to coach Tim Nicely. He knew the Panthers were capable of giving the Eagles some trouble.
In the end, it was free throws that made the difference with Fayette connecting on a remarkable 18 of 21 shots. Had the Panthers won, the same thing could have been said, however, as they shot a solid 16 of 21 tries.
Both teams got off to a slow start and Stryker had a 12-11 lead at half-time. Fayette put together a 10-1 run—including three-pointers by Kaela Seiler and Mikayla Smith—but the Panthers came back to pull within three points when the fourth quarter started.
Both teams connected for four buckets in the fourth quarter, but three of Stryker’s came from Connor Varner outside the arc. Fayette needed a good showing at the line to stay alive in the tournament. Paige Keefer, Seiler, Taylor Griffiths, Allison Cuff and Alexis Fruchey all scored at least one free throw.
With a little over a minute to play, Fayette led by a point, 38-37, and Smith went to the bench with her fifth foul. Pettisville missed a pair of free throws before Ashtyn Baker scored. Fruchey scored two free throws and Cuff added one to preserve the win.
For the game, Griffiths shot eight for eight from the line and Seiler hit four for four. Griffiths collected six rebounds and four steals. Smith gave four assists.
MORENCI BOYS: Morenci's varsity boys lost their lead early in the second quarter Friday when Britton-Deerfield visited, and they lost it for good. The Bulldogs managed to stay close and trailed by only two points with two minutes to play, but the Patriots remained solid at the free throw line to post a 60-49 league win.
The loss dropped Morenci to 5-14 overall and 3-11 in the league—still ahead of Sand Creek with only one TCC victory. The Aggies' only win was against Morenci in the Bulldogs' first game of the season. BD finished league play at 5-9 to stand one spot ahead of Morenci.
The Bulldogs kept their offense deep from the start, connecting on three of eight three-point shots—by Austin Sandusky, Daiton Lemmon and Alex Thomas—to lead 13-11 after a quarter. Three of eight tries went through in the second quarter, as well—two by Hunter Borton and another by Sandusky—while Morenci shot only one for six from two-point range and trailed by six at intermission.
Lemmon scored five points and made a block in the third quarter, Sandusky added a three and made a block, also, and the Patriots had trouble getting the ball through the hoop.
BD enlarged its lead to nine points with 5:53 to play, but Morenci came right back. Hayze Wolf hit a bucket, Sandusky scored a field goal and a free throw before Bobby Black swished a three-pointer to pull within three points. A three-pointer by Thomas with 1:55 remaining closed the gap to two points and it still looked like anybody's game.
After that the Bulldogs went zero for four from outside the arc and zero for two inside. Only a single free throw was added to their score while the Patriots shot seven for eight from the line to win.
Alex Thomas was the leading scorer for Morenci with 13, while Lemmon and Sandusky each added 10.
WHITEFORD—Morenci played closely with Whiteford all night at home last week, but a chance to tie the game in regulation play was foiled when a last shot missed its mark and the Bobcats escaped with a 50-47 victory.
Colin Lake, the TCC’s leading scorer, put only six points on the scoreboard by half-time, but he came alive in the second half to finish with 24 points.
Lemmon finished with 17 for the Bulldogs and Alex Thomas added 12. Lemmon also led in rebounding with seven. Wolf and Thomas each grabbed six.
MORENCI GIRLS: Morenci's varsity girls came through with an opening quarter like none other Thursday at Hudson and closed the regular season with a 50-34 victory against the Tigers.
Ali Piercy scored twice and Mariah Gillen once before Hannah Jeffers got on track with a three-point shot to give the Bulldogs a 9-1 lead. Morenci committed six turnovers in the quarter, but Hudson didn't take advantage.
Jeffers hit another three followed by a pair of two-point buckets and Emma Binegar added a field goal. Gillen finished off the quarter with three baskets in the final minute to put the Bulldogs on top 26-12.
The scoring pace slowed for both teams in the second period, but Morenci padded its lead for a 20-point advantage at half-time.
Jeffers added six points in the third quarter, with Morenci's lead swelling to 24 points mid-way through the period.
The Bulldog offense sputtered in the final quarter, but the squad still came through with its top offensive night of the season.
Jeffers led Morenci's scoring with 20 points and Gillen added 10.
BD—Britton-Deerfield finished with another decisive win against Morenci, but it was a long time coming. The Patriots' lead stood at only six points halfway through the third period Wednesday, but after that point the Bulldogs couldn't score and Britton-Deerfield did nothing but score to wrap up the league season with a 59-38 win over Morenci.
The Bulldogs committed two fouls in the first 13 seconds of the contest, then turned the ball over six times before putting any points on the scoreboard. Oddly, they trailed only 4-0. Two buckets by Gillen knotted the game at 4-4 and a fast break by Sydney Weeks as the quarter ended made it 10-7 in favor of the Patriots.
BD led by as much as 11 in the second quarter, but a good showing at the free-throw line kept Morenci in the game. Weeks and Jeffers both went two for two and Piercy added another to cut the lead to seven points.
The Patriots (14-5) were in their locker room for only a couple minutes at half-time before their coach had them back on the court shooting baskets. It didn't make any difference, at least not for a few minutes. BD added only four points in the next four minutes and Morenci kept it close before the Patriot offense finally awakened. Five quick points in the final seconds of the quarter made it a 16-point game and the lead only grew in the final quarter.
BD’s Cambria Handy—the league’s top scorer—was unstoppable and finished with 28 points. Gillen scored 11 for Morenci.