SHORT GAP - One year after losing the school's leading career point scorer and all-state Abby Beeman to graduation, nobody, with the exception of the girls and their coaching staff, really knew what to expect out of the 2019-2020 version of Frankfort Lady Falcons' basketball. The girls and coaching staff knew their abilities, outside of that, naturally there were doubts.
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - One year after losing the school’s leading career point scorer and all-state Abby Beeman to graduation, nobody, with the exception of the girls and their coaching staff, really knew what to expect out of the 2019-2020 version of Frankfort Lady Falcons’ basketball. The girls and coaching staff knew their abilities, outside of that, naturally there were doubts.
Frankfort immediately, yes, immediately, silenced the doubters and served notice that they were a team to be reckoned with. It all started with a 38-35 victory over AAA power University on the road, then was followed by a thrashing of another AAA school, Spring Mills (66-39). Then came utter destruction of Petersburg (93-35), a thrashing of AAA Hampshire (74-30), a one-point, overtime, 67-66 loss to the top ranked team in the state, North Marion, then a 70-22 victory over cross-county rival Keyser.
Two games later, that list of early accomplishments would include a 60-59 last-second victory over defending state champion Fairmont Senior in Fairmont on Dec. 30. Fast forward 56 days, and the two would meet again, this time in Short Gap on March 5 in the regional co-final. This one, however, would be for all the marbles, with a trip to the state tournament in Charleston on the line.
In the end, it would be the defending state champion Lady Polar Bears who would earn the 47-38 victory and that coveted return trip to Charleston.
For the Lady Falcons, poor shooting and early foul trouble, coupled with Fairmont Senior’s aggressive style of defense, made points hard to come by. In the end, it just wouldn’t be there night.
“It was a good season, I’m proud of them for what they accomplished, but the ultimate goal wasn’t reached. We’re very disappointed that we didn’t move on,” a heartbroken Frankfort coach Mike Miller said after the game.
According to Miller, “We couldn’t make shots, we couldn’t make foul shots. They shot 31 foul shots and made the big ones down the stretch, and we couldn’t make anything and it caught up with us.”
“We didn’t get into a flow offensively, a little bit of foul trouble dictated what we could do about being aggressive and not being aggressive. We just couldn’t get into a rhythm and get anything going. Some of it was their defense and some of it was just a lack of execution on our part,” Miller explained.
Fairmont Senior would gain the early advantage, leading the home standing Falcons 13-9 at the end of the first quarter. Bekah Jenkins scored five points and Reagen Blasher four points to lead the Polar Bears in the first frame. Macie Miller led Frankfort with seven points coming off a three-point shot and two field goals.
In the second quarter, it would be Frankfort edging Fairmont Senior 10-9 in the stanza inch one-point closer, with the Polar Bears still leading 22-19 at the half. Marié Perdew led the Falcon charge with five points in the quarter coming off of a three-point shot and a field goal. Fairmont Senior distributed their nine second-quarter points among four players.
A significant storyline developed in the second quarter when Frankfort and Fairmont Senior stars Makenna Douthitt and Marley Washenitz both got in early foul trouble. This would result in bench time for both, more so than normal, for the remainder of the game.
After intermission, trailing 22-19, Frankfort immediately went to work. Sophomore Halley Smith hit back to back three-pointers to first tie the game 22-22 and then give Frankfort a 25-22 lead. That momentum, however, would only carry the Falcons for so long, as Fairmont Senior allowed only eight points total from Frankfort in the quarter, scoring seven of their own, to take a 29-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Halley Smith accounted for six of Frankfort’s eight points in the third frame, while Raegan Blasher accounted for five of the Polar Bears’ seven points.
In the final quarter, Fairmont Senior would outscore the host Falcons 18-11 to earn the 47-38 victory, and a return trip to the state tournament in Charleston. Twelve of those 18 points would come at the foul line as the Polar Bears converted 12 of 22 foul shots in the final frame in earning the victory.
Bekah Jenkins hit eight of those foul shots in 10 attempts to lead the way for Fairmont Senior. Marié Perdew led Frankfort in the final stanza, scoring 7 of the Falcons’ 11 points.
Perdew would lead all Frankfort scorers in the loss with 12 points coming from two three-point shots and three field goals. Macie Miller was next with 11 points, with a three-pointer, two field goals and four free throws. Halley Smith was next with nine points coming from two three-pointers, a field goal and a foul shot. Finally, Makenna Douthitt with four points and Larae Grove with two points closed out the scoring for Frankfort.
Fairmont Senior was led in the victory by Bekah Jenkins with 13 points, followed in double figures by Reagan Blasher with 11 points and Morgan Lilley with ten points. Next was Emily Starn with five points, followed by Marley Washenitz with three points, Makayla Lilley and Laynie Beresford with two points apiece, and Keyonna Hilson with one point.
“The only way you can stop being the defending champion is that they have to knock you out, right? We just wanted our opportunity, that’s all we asked for. You know we have a young team, we lost a few games earlier in the season, we lost a few more games than I would have liked, but tonight, it showed me that they learned a little bit,” Fairmont Senior coach Corey Hines said after the contest.
According to Hines, “We’ve got more than one player on this team, and they stepped up, I’m very proud of them. We knew that this was a tough team and a tough place to play. Hopefully we can continue, we can get better, and prepare for Charleston.”
With their season now concluded with an outstanding record of 23-2, one that included a 19-game win streak, all Frankfort coach Mike Miller can do is reflect on a remarkable season, and really a remarkable career and legacy left behind by the Frankfort players.
“They deserved better, that’s what hurts the most. Those five seniors, I’ve been fortunate to have coached them now since the fifth and sixth grade. They’re a special group of girls, and they don’t lose, they’re not used to losing, and they play the game of basketball the way they’re supposed to play it. There’s no ignorance or in between about the way they play the game, they play it the right way and they play it fair and within the rules,” Miller explained.
According to Miller, “There’s nobody prouder of that group of girls than me, and nobody is sadder for that group of girls than me. Because I’m telling you, they deserved to win a state championship and unfortunately that’s not going to happen and that hurts. It’s going to sting for awhile, because of the way it happened and it’s just a shame.”
“I’m very proud of them and couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve accomplished in seven or eight years, especially the last four. This one hurts, I wish I could take that hurt for all five of the,” Miller explained. “But, they’re hurting right now and they should be and I told them that they don’t have anything to hang their heads about. The sun will come up tomorrow. But, they’re a strong group of girls with strong resolve and they’re going to be successful with everything they do in life.”