CHARLESTON - At the post-game press conference after Frankfort defeated Lincoln 46-38, Falcon coach Mike Miller stated, “Wow, I'm glad to have that one over with. I'm going to have to go home and take my blood pressure medicine before I go to bed; I can't handle close games like that. But I told the girls, all you need to do is advance this time of year, and that's what we did.”
By Chapin Jewell
CHARLESTON - At the post-game press conference after Frankfort defeated Lincoln 46-38, Falcon coach Mike Miller stated, “Wow, I’m glad to have that one over with. I’m going to have to go home and take my blood pressure medicine before I go to bed; I can’t handle close games like that. But I told the girls, all you need to do is advance this time of year, and that’s what we did.”
While the final tally shows an eight-point spread, the game was nip and tuck up until the final minutes when Frankfort pulled away to secure the win. According to Miller, “We didn’t play the best game tonight, but we did what it took to win.” With that win, no matter how pretty or ugly, the Falcons did indeed advance to the state’s final four for the second year in a row.
Frankfort gained early momentum at the start of the game, jumping out to a 6-0 lead after three consecutive field goals, one each from Makenna Douthitt, Ashley Phillips and Macie Miller. Lincoln would counter by scoring eight of the next ten points to tie the game at eight points apiece with 3:23 to go in the first period.
Marie Perdew would counter the Cougars’ run with a three-pointer at the 1:22 mark to put the Falcons up 11-8. Lincoln’s Victoria Sturm promptly countered that three-pointer with one of her own to knot things up at 11-11 with 1:07 remaining. It was then Makenna Douthitt’s turn to drain a three with 52 seconds to go put Frankfort up 14-11 to close the period.
Lincoln would gain control in the second period, outscoring the Falcons 15-10 to take a 26-24 lead heading into the locker rooms at halftime. To that point, the Cougars had done an excellent job containing Abby Beeman. Beeman produced only four first-half points, all coming in the second period.
With Beeman’s production down, Makenna Douthitt shouldered the load coming up big with eight first-half points and a slew of rebounds. Douthitt was joined by her teammates in keeping things stable until Beeman started hitting her shots, which would happen in the second half.
When asked what his message was to Beeman, and the team at halftime, Miller responded with, “We ripped her a new one, her dad mostly, but at the same time, she knows what she has to do; she knows when to take over a game and when she needs to distribute to her teammates. We weren’t really that worried about it; we weren’t too unhappy with where we were knowing that we didn’t play the best half.”
Two things happened after halftime that turned the game in Frankfort’s favor. First, the Falcons’ stifling man-to-man defense limited Lincoln’s offensive opportunities, particularly their ability to make shots. The Cougars turned stone cold and were held to a mind boggling 1-19 shooting in the second half from the field . The second thing that happened is that Abby Beeman hit her stride, scoring 12 second-half points, including an NBA range three-pointer seemingly launched from the shadows of the golden Capitol dome.
On making the second-half switch to man-to-man defense instead of the zone, Coach Miller stated, “I felt like we had to do something different; our defense was stagnant and we weren’t getting enough turnovers. So I felt like when we went to man, that kind of got us up and down the court a little bit, and broke things open there in the fourth quarter.”
Frankfort closed the third period out with a 34-31 lead. In the fourth, all Lincoln could muster was seven free throws, no field goals or three-point shots. Frankfort, to the contrary, dropped 12 points and utilized Beeman’s expert ball handling ability to play keep away and close out the final frame with a 46-38 victory.
Despite entering halftime with only four points to her credit, senior sensation, all-everything Abby Beeman led all scorers in the end with a game-high 16 points. In addition to the points, Beeman also pulled down eight rebounds, six steals and two assists.
When asked in the post-game presser about whether it was important to her to be thought of as a complete player, not just a scorer, Beeman responded with, “That’s really important to me; I knew that my shots weren’t falling so I was trying to do everything else I could to help my team win.”
The other half of Frankfort’s dynamic duo, Makenna Douthitt, had an outstanding performance in her own right, earning a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, not to mention having four assists and one steal. Abby Beeman lauded praise on Douthitt in post-game comments, stating that, “I’m really proud of her, she really stepped up for us tonight.”
Freshman Marie Perdew scored seven points and pulled down three rebounds. Ashley Phillips scored five points, three rebounds, two steals and one assist. In addition, Macie Miller netted five points, pulled down four rebounds, added two assists and one steal. Finally, freshman Halley Smith rounded out the Falcons’ scoring with two points.
Lincoln was led by Victoria Sturm’s 13 point performance, followed next by Brynne Williams and Katie Martin with eight points apiece. In addition, Maddi Martin added four points, Allison Rockwell three and Hannah Ferris contributed two.
The win sent Frankfort into the semi-finals Friday night at 7 p.m. against top-seed Fairmont Senior. Frankfort knocked the then defending state champion Polar Bears out of state tournament contention last year in a regional final in Short Gap. Earlier this season, Fairmont Senior exacted revenge on the Falcons by defeating Frankfort 68-45.
Heading into the semi-final matchup with Fairmont Senior, the Lady Falcons had won nine consecutive games by a jaw-dropping average margin of 39 points per game. As Coach Miller pointed out, Frankfort knows a thing or two about Fairmont Senior, stating, “We’re familiar with them, they play a different style of basketball; they’re physical, they’re big, they get after it. On defense they like to bop you coming up and down the court and play physical. We’re okay with that, we feel like we can match up with anybody. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before, we’re excited.”
As the adage goes, to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. Fairmont Senior is the top seed for a reason and the Falcons will have their hands full. Time and time again, however, they’ve risen to the challenge, playing the role of David and knocking off Goliath. You can almost picture the diminutive but super talented Abby Beeman readying her slingshot now.