Williamstown ends Frankfort's bid for state title

Chapin Jewell
Special to the News Tribune
Frankfort's Marie Perdew brings the ball up the court at the state tournament on Tuesday. Despite the loss for Frankfort, Perdew led all scorers with 18 points.

CHARLESTON - Williamstown started red hot and netted six three-pointers in the first half. By contrast, Frankfort had much greater trouble getting the ball to fall into the net. The result was a 29-18 Yellow Jackets advantage at the half.  Despite a spirited and inspired comeback attempt, one that saw the Lady Falcons play hard to the final buzzer, Williamstown earned the 50-45 victory.

With the win, Williamstown advances to Friday’s class AA semi-final against Parkersburg Catholic, winners of 43 straight games dating back to last year.  

With the loss, Frankfort concludes the season with a successful overall record of 15-4 and maintains what has become a Frankfort tradition of advancing to the state basketball tournament.

“Well, it always hurts when you lose, But, I’m very proud of these girls and the effort they gave in the fourth quarter.  They could have packed it in and gave up and quit, but they fought hard until the end. They deserve a better outcome,” Frankfort coach Mike Miller stated after the contest.

According to Miller, “Williamstown made their shots and made them early, that put us in a hole. We didn’t make ours and got behind. They shot exceptionally well from the foul line. We missed five or six foul shots at crucial times. That was the difference in the game, the shooting. They got off to a hot start and we didn’t, and that pretty much dictated the rest of the game.”

In the blink of an eye, Williamstown was leading 7-0 shortly after tip-off. The Yellow Jackets allowed Frankfort to score a few, but maintained the lead throughout the first period, finishing the opening frame with a 13-6 advantage.

At one time, Frankfort faced a 12-point deficit in the second period but worked hard to get back into the game. The Lady Falcons went on a nine to zero run and got to within three points, 18-15. Just as Frankfort got hot, they once again suddenly cooled down, scoring only three points the rest of way.  At the break, Williamstown held a 29-18 advantage.

Just as they did in the second period, Frankfort again worked hard to cut the Williamstown advantage and was successful, trimming what was an 11-point Yellow Jacket lead to just five points (36-31) at the end of third period. In that third frame, Frankfort used improved shooting to gain a 13-7 scoring advantage.

It took five minutes into the final frame before Frankfort would score again, unfortunately. By then, Williamstown lead had grown to eight points (41-33).  To their credit, later in the period, Frankfort would run off seven unanswered points in a quick burst to get to within six points (48-42), with 18 seconds remaining in the game. It was too little too late as Williamstown closed strong in earning the 50-45 advantage.

“There’s only 16 minutes in a half, and it’s tough to come back from a double-digit deficit. But, I’m proud of their effort in the second half, especially there at the end in the fourth quarter, Miller explained.

In the victory, Williamstown was led in double figures by Jayla Wiseman with 16 points followed by Lakyn Joy with 12 points.  Wiseman also earned a double-double by pulling down 12 rebounds. Georgie Inman was next with nine points, Sophie Folwell added seven points, Nicole Reynolds five points, and Maybree Rinard one point.

In the loss, Frankfort was led in double figures by Marié Perdew with a game-high 18 points, followed by Halley Smith with 11 points. Additionally, for the Falcons, Izzy Layton and Arin Lease tallied six points apiece, and Larae Grove four points.

“I needed to start out strong, but I didn’t execute. It started to pick up obviously towards the end of the game, and we all played hard, but I needed to hit my shots and I can’t make turnovers like that,” Perdew explained.

Perdew, her own toughest critic, still lead all scorers in the game with 18 points. That’s the way the season has gone for Perdew, who has developed into a prolific scorer. Even with a self-described less than perfect performance, on the scoring sheet, she rises above all others, on both sides.

Halley Smith, as she has done all season, added a tremendous defensive effort to her own offensive prowess, finishing as the team’s second highest scored.  Smith , however, was stymied by foul trouble, picking up two quick fouls early, then playing much of the latter stages of the game with four fouls.  That somewhat altered her ability to play the defense she likes to play.

“Definitely in the beginning, I like to play aggressive defense, and whenever you have that foul trouble it’s hard to keep that intensity up without constantly thinking in the back of your mind, ‘is this going to be a foul.’  Your defense definitely has to adjust to what the refs are calling,” Smith explained.

Despite the loss, Frankfort can look to the future with great optimism.  The Falcons lose contributors Izzy Layton and Michelle Phillips to graduation, but four of the five starters, including leading scorers Perdew and Smith return, as does a talented and developing cast of reserve players.

“We’re definitely going to keep working at it and keep our heads up.  Tomorrow morning, we can all wake up and thank God for another day we’re living.  We’ll get back in the gym and come back better next year,” Perdew stated.

“We have the experience now, we all know what it’s like.  Some of them, this was their first time coning down here.  We definitely next year can come down, and hopefully make it farther,” explained.

“I agree,” Arin Lease stated.  And with that, a successful season is in the books and the Frankfort Lady Falcons can now look to the off-season and a renewed commitment for next year.