SHORT GAP - The Frankfort Lady Falcons have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years, reaching the state tournament in Charleston, for example, each of the last two seasons. It's no coincidence that at the same time Frankfort was enjoying all that team success, Abby Beeman, dubbed by many Falcon fans as the GOAT (greatest of all time), was setting individual records left and right.
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - The Frankfort Lady Falcons have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years, reaching the state tournament in Charleston, for example, each of the last two seasons. It’s no coincidence that at the same time Frankfort was enjoying all that team success, Abby Beeman, dubbed by many Falcon fans as the GOAT (greatest of all time), was setting individual records left and right.
Abby, however, has graduated, moved onto college, and is already making a name for herself as a Shepherd University Lady Ram. While Abby’s exploits will be remembered in Short Gap forever, what remains at Frankfort is a talented and experienced group that has tasted much success over the years and has no plans of letting that run of success slide. Life after Abby is a new adventure, but it’s a challenge the Lady Falcons are eager to tackle head-on.
“Abby Beeman cannot and will not be replaced by only one person. It is going to have to be done collectively as a team. Replacing the GOAT will be tough but believe me, we have a group of girls ready to step up and fill that huge void. We will find the way to do that as a team,” Frankfort coach Mike Miller explained.
One huge advantage Frankfort has is that despite all of Beeman’s individual success, the Lady Falcons have been a complete team in recent years. As such, there are many girls amongst the ranks with a tremendous amount of big game experience, something that will prove invaluable as the Falcons look to continue their winning ways.
“Experience will be huge for this team. They have played on the big stage and there is nothing too big for this group of girls. Just like in years past, we still have a younger core of players that will play some significant minutes on that big stage and that is important for building for our future. Back when I was in high school, you didn’t see players playing varsity basketball until their junior and senior year. Now, it is important to build your program with your youth.” Miller stated.
Much of that experience comes from upperclassmen like Seniors Macie Miller, Makenna Douthitt, Kaitlyn Crist, Ashley Phillips and Haley Malone. These girls have played together forever, and for many of them, not just in basketball. Aside from the talented upperclassmen, however, Frankfort has talented and now experienced youth capable of stepping in and contributing in a big way.
According to Miller, “Marié Perdew and Halley Smith played big time minutes for us as Freshmen and that is paying huge dividends for us now. We have had a good mix of underclassmen since I have been here and I think that is a key to having continuous success. We have a deeper team this year and we are looking for each player to see significant minutes for us.”
“Our Seniors will be leading the way but players like Mariè and Halley are right there as starters on our team as Sophomores. We also will have Juniors Izzy Layton and Michelle Phillips that will see minutes, Sophomore Mackenzie Long, and two up and coming Freshman, Arin Lease and Larae Grove getting on the floor as well. So, we have a good mix once again and it is going to be exciting for us,” Miller explained.
To be successful, there must be dedication in the offseason. Miller thinks the efforts in the off season show a great commitment from his players, “Our kids have had a successful off-season. AAU teams help for some kids but we like to travel and play in tournaments with our own team players. We feel that it benefits our team and fits us better. So, we played in several tournaments along with our summer league games and the girls worked hard to get better so we are ready to compete with the best teams in the state.”
What is the ultimate goal? What are Frankfort’s expectations?
“We believe we have what it takes to compete for a State Championship and that is our goal. Our Senior leadership is strong and our girls have been playing in huge games for a few years now so we feel great about our chances. Players believe, coaches believe, our fans believe. The girls are confident and focused, and they work hard. We feel like we have the right formula to win so we’ll see how we stack up right out of the gate.”
Frankfort will be tested early in the Frank Hines Tournament that began yesterday in Fairmont. The tournament specifically matches up the best AAA and AA teams in the state against each other, teams, for example, that played in Charleston a season ago. Frankfort will compete against University, the third ranked AAA team in the state, along with AAA Spring Mills.
“Coach Hines from Fairmont Senior hosts the Mixer and he does a phenomenal job at pairing the teams so it reflects a playoff type atmosphere. Of course, I also circle the Fairmont Senior and North Marion games because they have won the last several state championship games between them and we want to be recognized in that group with them. Those games are huge for us but we want to be the best team in our area, we want to be the best team in our section, our region, and our own county, which includes our cross-county rivals Keyser.”
Just like the famous “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” One might say, “Yes, Short Gap, there will be life after Abby Beeman.” Beeman lit a fire not only for herself but for everyone around her. She made everyone around her, and those around her worked hard to make themselves better as well.
Much of what remains at Frankfort are the girls who have tasted success, who have made themselves better and been made better by playing with greatness. It’s their time now to shine. They’ve seen the lights of the biggest stage in the Mountain State. Been there, done that, looking to get back again.