FAIRMONT - Frankfort's Lady Falcons entered Friday's state semi-final against top-seed Fairmont Senior on one heck of a streak. After defeating Lincoln 46-38 in the state quarterfinals, the Lady Falcons had won nine straight games by a margin of 39 points per game on average.
By Chapin Jewell
FAIRMONT - Frankfort’s Lady Falcons entered Friday’s state semi-final against top-seed Fairmont Senior on one heck of a streak. After defeating Lincoln 46-38 in the state quarterfinals, the Lady Falcons had won nine straight games by a margin of 39 points per game on average.
What awaited them, however, was a Polar Bears squad on an eight-game win streak of their own, also with a 23-3 record. The same Polar Bear squad that defeated Frankfort 68-45 in Short Gap back on Jan. 26.
After that earlier loss, Frankfort’s Abby Beeman stated, “Fairmont Senior is a great team and they make you uncomfortable the whole game.” Beeman was referencing the Polar Bears’ tenacious defensive style that stymies opponents.
In this state semi-final rematch, it would be that same tenacious Fairmont Senior defense and subsequent cold shooting for the Falcons that did Frankfort in. The Polar Bears defeated the Falcons 61-38, ending Frankfort’s outstanding season and bringing to a close the unrivaled career of Abby Beeman.
Fairmont Senior would ride that outstanding defense all the way to a state championship, claiming their second state title in three seasons with a 51-39 victory over Wyoming East on Saturday.
Frankfort was not the only team to fall victim to cold shooting at the hands of the Polar Bears. In their quarterfinal match against Bluefield, Fairmont held the Beavers to a 19 percent field goal percentage, with Bluefield going eight for 43 shots from the field. In the semi-final round, Frankfort made only 12 of 45 shots attempted for a 27 percent shooting percentage. Finally, in the title game, Wyoming East shot only 10 of 43 from the field for a paltry 23 percent shooting percentage. In total, Fairmont Seniors’ three opponents shot only 23 percent from the field throughout the state tournament.
The Polar Bears, known as a defensive juggernaut, got off to a fast offensive start against the Falcons. In the first period, Fairmont hit six three-pointers on six of ten shooting from beyond the three-point line to propel them to a 26-15 lead over the Falcons at the end of the first period. Macie Miller scored eight points for the Falcons, Abby Beeman five, and Makenna Douthitt two for Frankfort’s 15 first-period points.
With 1:08 remaining in the first period, it was a 17-15 game, with the Polar Bears holding a slight lead. In the last 1:07 of the period, however, Fairmont would hit back to back to back three pointers to extend their lead out to 26-15.
While the two teams combined for 41 points and eight three-pointers in the first period, the second period was a defensive/poor shooting struggle for both teams. In that second period, Frankfort slowed Fairmont Senior down, limiting the Polar Bears to only six points. Unfortunately for Frankfort, the Falcons could muster only six points of their own and the two teams went into the locker rooms at halftime with Fairmont Senior holding a 32-21 lead.
In that second period, Frankfort started out on a 6-2 run that narrowed the Fairmont Senior lead to seven points (28-21) with 2:52 remaining. The Polar Bears, however, would score the final four points of the second period to extend their lead out to 11 points at intermission.
“We held them to six points in the second quarter, but we scored six points too. We rely a lot on our shooting and it just wasn’t there tonight.You live and die with it sometimes, and we felt really good about our chances coming in,” Frankfort coach Mike Miller said in the post-game press conference.
Abby Beeman was held to only five points in the first half. According to Beeman in post-game comments, “They’re a very physical team but I don’t think it was something they were doing; I had opportunities to hit shots and didn’t.”
The third and fourth periods belonged totally to Fairmont Senior. It would be seven minutes and four seconds into the third period before Frankfort could put any points on the board. Those two points, scored by Ashley Phillips, would be Frankfort’s only points of the period. The Polar Bears’ 17-2 advantage in the third period gave them a decided 49-23 advantage heading into the final frame.
While Frankfort would edge Fairmont Senior 15-12 in fourth period scoring, the damage was done. The Polar Bears earned the 61-38 victory.
In post-game comments, Polar Bears coach Corey Hines praised his team’s tenacity, “I’m very proud of the defensive effort and camaraderie.” For his part, Frankfort coach Mike Miller acknowledged that the Polar Bears put up a tremendous defensive performance, but took exception to the manner in which Fairmont was allowed to play. “We’re not a big team and not a real physical team, and I think that showed tonight. But you have to draw the line somewhere on the physicality.”
According to Miller, “When you let a good team like that beat you up and down the court and grab you, check you and throw elbows, you’re not going to be real successful. I’m not real happy and don’t want to make excuses, but it’s a terrible way for our team to have to end their season.”
While the sting is still fresh, Frankfort fans will look back on this memorable season with pride as the Falcons accomplished a multitude of successes. Frankfort finished the season with an overall record of 21-5 and with their second straight appearance in West Virginia AA’s Final Four. Frankfort’s only losses were to AAA nine-time state champion Morgantown, West Virginia AA defending state champion North Marion, Bridgeport, and twice to Fairmont Senior, this year’s West Virginia AA state champion.
In terms of victories, however, the Lady Falcons defeated AAA two-time defending runner up Buckhannon-Upshur, Maryland’s 1A defending champion Southern, and West Virginia’s AA defending state champion North Marion, avenging their earlier loss to the Huskies. Equally as impressive, Frankfort went 18-0 against local and sectional opponents and finished the season by winning nine of their last ten games by an impressive margin of victory on average of 39 points.
Frankfort can also look back with pride at the amazing and unrivaled career accomplishments of senior Abby Beeman. Beeman’s numbers and the manner in which she’s played cement her legacy as Frankfort’s best ever basketball player and one of the best locally and regionally to have ever played. Beeman closes her career with 2, 217 points, 547 rebounds, 404 steals and 245 three-pointers. More important than the numbers, are the vivid memories she’s emblazoned on the minds of the Falcon faithful, with dazzling display after dazzling display and clutch performances when her team needed it the most being her legacy.
It’s not easy to see a magical season, or magical career like Abby Beeman’s, come to an end. But, back to back final four appearances for the team and a laundry list of career accomplishments for Beeman have provided Frankfort fans with memories to be cherished. To borrow words from Bob Hope’s signature song to close out his shows, “Thanks for the memories.”