SHORT GAP - Frankfort entered their regional playoff game with North Marion Wednesday night on a seven- game win streak in which they had defeated their opponents by 47 points per game on average. They couldn't possibly keep that pace and perhaps that win streak up could they?
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - Frankfort entered their regional playoff game with North Marion Wednesday night on a seven- game win streak in which they had defeated their opponents by 47 points per game on average. They couldn’t possibly keep that pace and perhaps that win streak up could they?
Their opponent North Marion, after all, was the defending West Virginia AA state champions. The Huskies also were the same team that defeated Frankfort by 26 points earlier this year and in the state-semifinals last year.
It turns out none of that mattered to a determined and talented Falcon squad led by all-everything Abby Beeman. All that mattered in Frankfort’s crowed gym Wednesday night is that seniors Abby Beeman and Lauren Whiteman would not see their season end without a return trip to Charleston. Mission accomplished.
“They deserve it. We didn’t want this season to be over for Abby and Lauren. The girls preached all week that they wanted to get out to a fast start because we felt like playing with a lead against them would help us get the job done. That’s exactly what happened, and I’m glad it was a big lead because if it were only a 16-point lead like last year we probably wouldn’t have been successful in the end,” stated a joyous Frankfort coach Mike Miller after the game.
While North Marion would close the gap late, as North Marion does, Frankfort dominated the Huskies for all but the final period with a lightning fast start that carried through the first three periods. The Falcons shocked the capacity crowd and those following the score on social media by jumping out to a 23-3 advantage by the end of the first period.
That 20-point advantage would turn into a 32-point lead at halftime as the Falcons entered the locker rooms up 44-12. North Marion made a little progress in the third period but the Falcons’ advantage was still 26 points as the teams entered the final frame with Frankfort holding a 55-29 advantage. North Marion would outscore Frankfort 30-16 in the final eight minutes but it was too little, too late, as the Falcons prevailed 71-59.
“Hats off to North Marion. We knew they wouldn’t go down without a fight. They are an unbelievable team, they are coached really well, and they’re the defending state champions for a reason. They execute better than anyone on the offensive side of the ball. We’re glad they came out ice cold in the first half and we were on fire. Right there was the difference of the game,” Frankfort’s coach Miller said of the Huskies.
Frankfort was led by senior sensation Abby Beeman who turned in a memorable 33 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal performance. Beeman shot 52 percent from the field, making 11 of 21 shots. She was five for eight in three-point attempts and went six for eight from the free throw line.
In addition, Frankfort benefitted from big, double-figure performances by Makenna Douthitt and Macie Miller. Douthitt earned a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, five steals and one assist. Miller netted 13 points, four steals, three rebounds and one assist. Also scoring for the Falcons in the victory was Ashley Phillips and Marie Perdew with five points each.
In the losing effort, North Marion was led in double figures by Taylor Bounamici with 20 points and eight rebounds and Cara Minor and Hannah Shriver with 13 points apiece.
Despite Frankfort’s herculean effort through the first three periods, North Marion just refused to go away when a lesser team would have had getting back home to Marion County as quick as possible on their minds.
When asked to describe the Huskies’ mettle, Coach Miller replied, “They just believe in one another, they’ve been playing together for years, they’re as good a team as any in the state.”
One huge factor in Frankfort’s favor was the capacity home crowd. Earlier in the day, Coach Miller implored Falcon Nation to come out and support his deserving team and did they ever. According to Miller, “We knew that our crowd had to be here and be loud to help support these girls and be behind them. Having a big home crowd behind you, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
For Miller, the excitement and meaning behind Wednesday night’s victory is extra special as he functions not only as a coach, but also as dad to junior starter Macie Miller. As such, Miller has watched these girls play together through the years through the lens of dad and coach.
According to Miller, “This group of girls is very special. I’ve told them, we’re not a big team, and sometimes that may hurt us, but hey, here we are going back to the state tournament.”
The victory avenges last year’s semi-final loss to North Marion as well as the six-point early season loss. Frankfort now stands at 20-4 on the season and has been seeded fifth in the AA state tournament in Charleston.
The Lady Falcons will play fourth seeded Lincoln Thursday, March 7, at 9 p.m. A win would propel them into Friday night’s semi-final at 7 against the winner of the top seed Fairmont Senior versus eight seed Bluefield game.
It’s been a magical season for the Lady Falcons, with a front-loaded schedule that included extremely stiff competition. Those early season battles forged a team now primed for a run at the state title. It’s also been a magical career for senior sensation Abby Beeman, a career nobody in and around Frankfort High School is ready to see end. Beeman’s 33- point performance, along with an outstanding effort from her team, have assured at least one more game for Beeman. That game will be played on the biggest of stages in the Mountain State at the Charleston Civic Center. One more game guaranteed, might we have another, and another, don’t bet against it.