Lady Falcons edge Lady Tornado 50-47

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Frankfort's Arin Lease and Keyser's Kaili Crowl battle for position in an effort to secure a loose ball.
Frankfort's Marie Perdew drives to the basket while defended by Keyser's Maddy Broadwater. Perdew led all scorers with 27 points in the Frankfort victory.

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

KEYSER - It was a highly anticipated matchup between county rivals, but then again, aren’t they all? This game in particular, however, seemed to strike the fancy of fans on both sides as there was a general feeling that there was truly very little separating the two squads this year.  

With both 3-1 entering the game with solid resumes, the thought was that it would be the little things that would make the difference. “The thought” was right.

On Friday night, in front of as bolstered a crowd as COVID would allow at KHS, the Frankfort Lady Falcons built an early lead, then watched as Keyser battled back into contention to essentially make the conclusion of the game a photo finish. In the end, Frankfort would hold on for the 50-47 victory, but not before Keyser had taken them to the brink.

So what “little thing” would be the difference? Free throws, plain and simple. Frankfort made them and Keyser did not.  Frankfort’s Marie Perdew, with a game-high 27 points, went to the line 17 times and connected on 14 of them. Keyser, collectively, shot less than 50 percent from the charity stripe, connecting on only 14 of 30 attempts.

Both coaches agree, while other factors certainly played a role, free throws were the determining factor.

“Absolutely. The way the game was being called, everyone was in the quadruple bonus, it seemed like. It was going to come down to foul shots and that’s what won the game for us and lost it for them,” Frankfort coach Mike Miller stated. “I hate to speak for Coach Blowe, but I’m sure that’s what he’s going to say too. Foul shots were huge.”

“In a great game like that, which is really competitive, yes.  Coming into it, we always talk about layups and free throws, layups and free throws, Keyser coach Josh Blowe stated. “And early, layups weren’t there, we hit the bottom of the backboard four times, and then you miss 17 or 18 free throws, that’s definitely where it starts. It’s correctable at least, that’s the good thing.”

It was a game that lived up to the hype. Frankfort’s Miller, though relieved, was quick to credit Keyser with a game well-played, and explained that his team got from Keyser just what he expected.

“I’m feeling lucky and relieved. We knew what we were getting into when we came here, we knew what to expect. We got everything that we wanted, everything that we thought we would,” Miller stated.  

“Hats off to Keyser for the guts they showed, they didn’t quit, they didn’t give up, they kept playing hard, even though they didn’t shoot the ball very well. We didn’t shoot the ball well either, but we made our foul shots, and if it wasn’t for that, we would be looking at the other end of things,” Miller explained.

For Keyser’s Blowe, the game played out as a tale of two halves.

“In the second half, we were definitely sharp. In the first half, I was not pleased. We were getting great shots, we were playing great defense. We go into halftime, Marie has made two baskets, and we weren’t there, we weren’t making shots and we weren’t making free throws. At halftime, it should have been tighter. It should have been tied or with us with a little lead,” Blowe explained.

According to Blowe, “But, we played hard, I told them we played hard. Hopefully we learn from this loss, and frow from it, because I told them, to get to Charleston, you’re going to have a game exactly like this to get to Charleston.”

As has been the trend, Frankfort was led in double figures by Marie Perdew with a game-high 27 points, followed by Halley Smith with 13 points. Larae Grove added seven points, Arin Lease two points, and Michelle Phillips one point.

In the loss, Keyser was led in double figures by Averi Everline with 19 points, followed by Rebekah Biser with 10 points.  Kaili Crowl added eight points, Maddy Broadwater and Alexa Shoemaker four points apiece, and Summer Reid two points.

The first half belonged to Frankfort. The Lady Falcons quadrupled Keyser in scoring in the first period to jump out to an 8-2 lead at the end of the first period. In the second period, Frankfort outpaced Keyser narrowly, edging the Lady Tornado in scoring 12-10 to take a 20-12 advantage into halftime.  

Keyser came alive in the third frame, led mainly by the inspired play of sophomore guard Averi Everline. While Frankfort put up 14 points in the third stanza, Keyser put up 15 points, with 11 of those 15 points coming from Everline. Everline his four two-point buckets and a three point-shot during the third period.  At the conclusion of the third period, Frankfort’s lead was cut to seven points, 34-27.

“She’s a great shooter, we have a lot of great shooters on this team, but some of the girls are timid. I liked it, because she showed no timidness at all. She was not shy, she was aggressive, she was pulling up jumpers to the bucket,” Blowe said of Everline. “I was very pleased, her hustle was really good and she put the ball in the basket as well as anybody on this team.”

In the game’s final period, Keyser would again outscore Frankfort, this time by a tally of 20-16. To their credit, however, the Falcons were able to hold off Keyser’s late surge to capture the 50-47 victory. It was Marie Perdew who would come up biggest when the game was on the line. The talented junior scored 12 of her game-high 27 points in the game’s final period, including going a perfect eight for eight from the foul line.     

“That comes from heart, and that comes from somebody wanting something more than somebody else. That’s what it comes down to, hats off to her. She got bottled up a lot in this game, the focus was on her,” Miller said of Perdew’s performance. “She did what she had to do, did a lot of the dirty work, she got to the foul line, made her foul shots. She had that huge rebound and put-back at the end, and that’s what won it for us,” Miller explained.

To that point, Frankfort had played in five games, three of those games literally came down to the wire  Miller was asked whether experience in these tight contests will pay dividends for Frankfort.

“It always does. You like being up against it, you like being against the crowd. Pressure is good, especially for a younger team like we have. You have new personnel in there.  I think it will help down the stretch. I don’t like these games very much, but if it builds some character in our team, then I’m all for it,” Miller explained.

Keyser’s Blowe was asked whether the close result of the contest represented a moral victory.

“I take some positives yes, but there are zero moral victories, zero. That’s a game I think we definitely should have won, and the girls know that, and we didn’t,” Blowe explained.

Keyser won the junior varsity contest, defeating the visiting Falcons in a close, 46-40 affair. Alyvia Idleman led the way for the junior Black and Gold with 11 points, followed closely by Morgan Pratt with 10 points, Charity Wolfe and Sydney Taylor with eight points each, and Kiara Kesner with four points.  Brooke Kesner added three points and Makayla Gillaspie two points.

The junior Falcons were led by Madi Ruble with 10 points, Chloe Kauffman and Lilyan Mills with seven points each, and Veronica VanMeter and Grace Scott with six points apiece.  Sydney Whitacre and Alivia Talley contributed two points each.

For the Keyser varsity (3-2), the Lady Tornado are slated to travel to Hampshire on Monday, in a game with a 6 p.m. junior varsity start, with varsity play to follow at 7:30 p.m.

For the Frankfort varsity, the win against Keyser elevated their record to 4-1.  The Lady Falcons then took on and defeated Spring Mills for the second time this season on Saturday, this time by a final tally of 77-52.

Marie Perdew again led the way, this time with a game-high 26 points. Next in scoring for the Falcons was Halley Smith, with a personal season high mark of 22 points. Larae Grove followed with a personal season high mark for her of 15 points.  Arin Lease followed with nine points and Izzy Layton added five points.

In the loss, Spring Mills was led in double figures by Mya Griffin’s 18 points, followed by Ella Jones with 13 points.

Spring Mills won the junior varsity contest 36-31 in a much closer game than the first time the two teams met.  In that game, Spring Mills was leading Frankfort 20-2 at the half. Spring Mills was led by Keleigh Pownall’s 16 points, followed by 12 points from Tory Henry.  Frankfort was led by Veronica Vanmeter;s eight points, followed by seven points from Lilyan Mills. Madi Ruble added five points, Kelsey Smith, Grace Scott and Lara Bittinger added three points apiece, and Chloe Kauffman contributed two points.

The varsity victory over Spring Mills gives Frankfort a record of 5-1. The Lady Falcons next travel to Moorefield on Wednesday for a varsity only contest that starts at 6 p.m.