OAKLAND - It does no good to mince words or tiptoe around the issue, facts are facts. The reality is, the Frankfort Lady Falcons embarrassed Keyser's Lady Tornado in Short Gap last Thursday with their jaw dropping 82-20 victory. Frankfort won the first matchup by nine points, to suggest therefore they were the favorite heading into the game is not a stretch. But nobody, on either end of the county, could have anticipated a 62-point spread.
By Chapin Jewell
OAKLAND - It does no good to mince words or tiptoe around the issue, facts are facts. The reality is, the Frankfort Lady Falcons embarrassed Keyser’s Lady Tornado in Short Gap last Thursday with their jaw dropping 82-20 victory. Frankfort won the first matchup by nine points, to suggest therefore they were the favorite heading into the game is not a stretch. But nobody, on either end of the county, could have anticipated a 62-point spread.
Enter fictional boxer Rocky Balboa and his now famous speech about getting knocked down in life.To quote Rocky, “It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
If ever there were an example of getting knocked down and then getting right back up and moving forward, it’s the way Keyser rebounded from that Frankfort loss in their trip to Southern two days later. In what is perhaps the toughest basketball environment around, the Lady Tornado overcame early deficits of 16-2 early in the second period, and 28-14 at halftime, to defeat Southern in overtime by a score of 57-56.
How’s that for bouncing back? What makes it even sweeter is that in the course of that come-from-behind thrilling overtime victory, senior sensation Lexi Turner managed to break two school records in the process. In her game-high 28 point performance, Turner broke Keyser’s all-time scoring record, which stood at 1,088 points. She also became the leading three-point shooter in Golden Tornado history.
The other half of Keyser’s dynamic duo of senior sensations, Kearstin Lucas, had a huge 20 point, 10 rebound performance of her own. Most impressive about Lucas’ performance is that she saved the best for last, scoring nearly half of her points in the overtime period, to include the game winner with eight seconds remaining.
According to Keyser coach Josh Blowe, “It says a lot about the character of our team. After six straight quarters of below average basketball, it would have been really easy to put our heads down. We continued to fight through adversity and found a way to win in overtime.”
Blowe credits improved “toughness and physicality” in the second half, along with making a few baskets, something Keyser has struggled with lately, with flipping the game as the night progressed.
“Overall, this was a very gutty win for us. It wasn’t always pretty but it was a game we needed. Finding a way to win at this at this stage of the year is what it’s all about.
According to Lexi Turner, the key to the comeback was confidence that came from hitting shots, and a few wise words from Coach Blowe at halftime.
“We all shot a lot better in the second half and we started to gain confidence. Coach gave us a good halftime speech. We never gave up. We hustled and we played with heart the second half,” Turner explains.
Things certainly got off to a rough start with Southern gaining the early 11-2 lead at the end of the first period. Things didn’t improve much in the second period as Southern’s 17-12 advantage in the second frame led to Keyser being down 28-14 at halftime.
After halftime, the tables started to turn. The Lady Tornado used an 18-7 advantage in the third period to draw to within three points (35-32) entering the fourth period. At the end of regulation, a Kearstin Lucas three-pointer tied the game and forced overtime.
That’s when Lucas took over, scoring eight points in overtime, to include the game winner with eight seconds left, to lead Keyser to the 57-56 victory.
“Hopefully, this will give us the confidence we need heading down the stretch into the playoffs,” Coach Blowe reflected.
Keyser was led by Lexi Turner’s 28 points, which came from four three-point shots, three field goals, and ten made foul shots. Turner shot 91% from the free throw line hitting 10 of her 11 attempts. Kearstin Lucas added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Lucas hit three three-point shots, added three made foul shots and four field goals. Keyser’s Aubrey Smith finished third in scoring with five points.
In the loss, Southern had four players score in double figures. Emilee Tasker led the way with 14 points, Hannah Owens finished second with 13, while Josilyn Evans and Jordyn Warnick added 12 and 11 points respectively.
It was another special night for the Lady Tornado collectively, and individually for Lexi Turner with the breaking of two more school records. For Turner, the records are nice, but it’s the journey with her teammates she values most.
According to Turner, “I always just go out and play ball. It feels good beating the records, but it feels even better knowing that I’m a role model and I had a lot of love and support throughout my accomplishments.”
Lexi Turner gets it, while amassing records she’s also amassed immeasurable life lessons along the way. Her teammates do too. A lesser team could have been all but done in after the loss Keyser suffered to Frankfort. But to paraphrase Rocky Balboa, life and winning isn’t about getting knocked down, it’s about getting back up and pressing forward. It may have taken two quarters to get rolling, but the Keyser Lady Tornado did just that in their comeback victory against Southern.