Lady Falcons’ late surge downs Keyser 52-39

Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
Frankfort's Michelle Phillips and Arin Lease, and Keyser's Alexa Shoemaker and Rebekah Biser, get in position as the ball is inbounded.
Frankfort's Arin Lease defends Keyser's Maddy Broadwater in Friday night action. Lease would help lead Frankfort to victory with 10 points.  Broadwater would contribute seven points for Keyser in the loss.

SHORT GAP - For three full periods, the Lady Falcons and Lady Tornado fought tooth and nail against each other with equal success. Keyser held a 12-9 advantage at the end of the first period. Frankfort held a 20-18 advantage at the end of the second period. Keyser held a 34-32 at the end of the third period.

Then, to borrow local sportscaster John Cunningham of Commercial Video’s marquee phrase, “It was Secretariat at the Belmont.”  

“Secretariat at the Belmont” meaning in the end, Frankfort would pull away and gain separation much like the famed horse in the famed race that won it horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Using a 20-5 scoring advantage in the game’s final stanza, Frankfort would earn a 52-39 victory in the second and final matchup between the two cross-county rivals this season. No longer in the same basketball classification, section or region, they will not play each other in the sectional playoffs.

“It was mentally exhausting, but from a fan’s perspective, it was a good game. I’m sure everyone enjoyed it. It was enjoyable to come out on top. We were fortunate to come out on top. But, once again, the girls showed a lot of guts. Once again, they were facing adversity, but in the last couple of minutes turned it on,” Frankfort coach Mike Miller stated.

According to Miller, “I don’t know why they wait so long sometimes, but down the stretch, they did what they had to do to win. Keyser, once again, was well prepared. They did everything they could to take Marié (Perdew) out of the game and they did for the most part. But our girls showed heart, and a couple of them stepped up at important times, and that was the difference in the game.

“They started getting inside and making easy buckets on us, they were definitely the more physical team in the fourth quarter, where I thought we were definitely the better team and the more physical team for three,” Keyser coach Josh Blowe stated.

“They’ve been in this situation a lot, a lot more than we have the last couple of years. They’ve won a lot of them, and tonight they showed that they were comfortable in this type of environment, and this type of situation,” Blowe explained.

Keyser was able to hold Frankfort star Marié Perdew to just 15 points. Fifteen points is a productive night for the average player, but Perdew is not average, in fact, she’s averaging almost double that amount per night. Blowe was asked whether if he was told before the game his team would hold Perdew to 15 points if he thought that would equate to a win?

“It would as long as we were making shots, but for whatever reason, we’re just not putting the ball in the basket at a high rate right now. It’s driving me crazy, it’s mind boggling right now.  We just need to find a way to get the ball in the rim,” Blowe explained.   

Frankfort has been led by junior sensations Marié Perdew and Halley Smith in the scorebook all season. From game one, the Falcons have looked to generate additional offense elsewhere, and as the season has progressed, are getting more successful at doing so. Thursday’s matchup against Keyser is illustrative of that success.

The Falcons were led by Perdew’s 15 points followed closely behind by Smith’s 13 points. In addition, however, for the first time this season, Arin Lease scored in double figures with 10 points and Izzy Layton finished just one point shy of what would have been her third double figures performance in a row with nine points. Larae Grove added three points and Michelle Phillips two points for Frankfort in the win.

“That’s what we need. We’re still going to need more total points, but the way that it was tonight, the stat line, is more conducive to what we’re looking for. We would love to have five girls in double figures, and pretty much, that’s where we were. We’re happy with that because we need everybody’s contribution. There’s going to be teams that hold Marié down, you know, like they did tonight,” Miller explained.

Miller commented on Arin Lease’s double figures performance.

“It was very well-played on her part. We’ve got to get her to play with her back to the basket a little more, because I think she would score more points if she showed a little more toughness down low, and we’re working on that. She can do it, she does it all the time in practice.  But, she made a big outside shot, had a big drive there in the fourth quarter that was huge. It was nice to see, that’s what we need to see collectively from this team,” Miller opined.

Defense makes the difference.

According to Miller, “The one good thing on this team is we’re holding other teams down, which is good, because we’re not scoring as many points as we have in years past. But, I like our defense, for the most part, the effort is there. We have some lapses at time, but we’ll get that corrected. But, for the most part, we hold teams down.”

In the loss, Keyser too displayed balanced scoring, the trademark of the 2021 Lady Tornado squad. Kaili Crowl led the way with 12 points, Alexa Shoemaker added nine points, Averi Everline eight points, and Maddy Broadwater seven points.  Summer Reid closed out the scoring with three points.

“She (Kaili Crowl) was doing a great job. That’s the best she’s played all year I thought, on both ends of the floor. She looked really good, she hit a nice jumper for us too, she was attacking, she was making her free throws. I was very pleased with her effort tonight, I was pleased with a lot of girl’s efforts tonight,” Blowe explained.

It was a thrilling, tight, and memorable contest, especially through the first three periods. The story of the game, the deciding factor, was Frankfort pulling away with an explosive fourth and final stanza.

“When we started distributing the ball unselfishly in that fourth quarter, that’s when it started to turn. We started to see everybody more clearly, we spaced them out, which was the game plan to begin with,” Miller stated. “We’re well aware that they know Marié very well, and we knew it was going to happen.  It was nice to see the collective scoring effort from everybody else.”

Keyser (4-4) next hosted Spring Mills on Saturday, and Hampshire on Monday for Senior Night.

Frankfort (9-1) will next host Moorefield on Tuesday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.

In junior varsity only action, Frankfort will host Keyser on Tuesday, March 30 at 6 p.m.