COMMENTARY: Frankfort and Keyser girls’ basketball, Part 2

Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
Shown in action from their first matchup, l-r, Halley Smith, Arin Lease, Aly Smith, Marie Perdew, and Rebekah Biser watch to see if  a shot will fall.

When the Keyser and Frankfort girls met to do battle at Keyser High School on Friday, March 12, both entered the contest with identical records of 3-1 and the general consensus was that a great game was brewing. Though it doesn’t always happen, the general consensus was right, with Frankfort winning a close, very close, three-point contest by a score of 50-47.

In that game, Frankfort built early leads at the end of the first period (8-2) and second period (20-12). That eight-point Falcon lead narrowed a little bit to seven points at the end of the third frame (34-27), and in the fourth period, Keyser cut the lead all the way down to three points where it would ultimately stay.

If the first half belonged to Frankfort, and it did, the momentum in the second half seemed to belong to Keyser.  Keyser did a great job surging back from being behind, but Frankfort countered that by keeping Keyser just enough at bay to secure the close victory.

The story of that game, the decider if you will, was foul shots. This was something both Keyser coach Josh Blowe and Frankfort coach Mike Miller were in complete agreement on in their post-game interviews To directly quote the game story in the News-Tribune, “Frankfort made them and Keyser didn’t.”  

Were there other factors? Sure. But, it’s hard to ignore what was presented in black and white in the scorebook.  Frankfort’s Marié Perdew alone, for example, connected on 14 of 17 free throws attempted for a success rate of 83 percent. By contrast, collectively, the Lady Tornado shot only 47 percent from the charity stripe, connecting on only 14 of 30 attempts.

That game, however, is ancient history now. Not only because both teams have moved on, with both doing well, but also because the two are no longer in the same classification, section or region, as has been explained.  

Other than bragging rights, and lets face it, bragging rights are important, the outcome of the Frankfort/Keyser battled won’t dictate who advances come playoff time, in fact, they also should have little or maybe no effect on how the teams are seeded in their sectional playoffs. It’s a voting process, so it may have some bearing, but certainly not the way it did when they were in the same section and classification.

Since their victory at Keyser, which at the time placed them with a record of 4-1, the Lady Falcons have won four straight games to elevate their record to 8-1. This entailed a 25-point win over Spring Mills (77-52), a 28-point win over Preston (66-38), a 2-point win over Petersburg (55-53), and a 30-point win over Robert C. Byrd (59-29).

It’s been obvious from day one that the Falcons have been and will be led by the junior duo of Marié Perdew and Halley Smith. Perdew is consistently leading the team in scoring game after game, scoring in the thirties or high twenties every game. Smith consistently scores in double figures and plays tenacious defense game after game.

With every passing game, the Falcons continue to strive, however, to increase production from the rest of the roster.  Again, with every passing game, that is starting to happen.  As an example, in their most recent two games, senior Izzy Layton has delivered for Frankfort and in a big way.  Against Petersburg in a crucial matchup, Layton produced a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.  Against Robert C. Byrd, Layton again scored in double figures, this time with 11 points. And Layton is not alone, others continue to step up.

Since their loss to Frankfort, which at the time placed them with a record of 3-2, the Lady Tornado next dropped a close, 40-49 contest to Hampshire, a team that beat Frankfort, and then had a resounding 30-point victory over Bishop Walsh in Cumberland (59-29). As a result, Keyser now currently sits with a record of 4-3, with those losses being to Petersburg by seven, Frankfort by three, and Hampshire by one.

It’s been obvious from day one that the trademark of this Keyser team is balance. Josh Blowe has remarked time after time in post-game interviews about both the effort and balance his teams have displayed. In fact, Blowe has gone so far as to remark that of all the teams he has coached or coached against locally, this edition of Keyser Lady Tornado basketball has displayed the most balance in scoring.

Consider that as many as eight separate Lady Tornado players this year have scored in double figures. Consider also that Blowe has remarked that when he goes to bench, he knows that what’s coming in as a replacement is of the same caliber as the starter, due to his team’s balance and depth.  On any given night, Keyser’s leading scorer could be Kaili Crowl, or Maddy Broadwater, or Alexa Shoemaker, or Averi Everline, pick one.

In any event, when the two teams take to the court in Short Gap on Friday, it’s sure to be another battle, and an entertaining one at that. Frankfort will be looking for another win to secure bragging rights for the year. Keyser will be looking to get a win for bragging rights of their own and to prove what the eye test shows, and that’s the fact that the two teams are very, very close competitively this season.