Frankfort-Petersburg girls: Everything you expected

Chapin Jewell
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Frankfort's Larae Grove elevates for a shot in traffic. Grove scored 14 points for the Lady Falcons in their 57-51 loss at Petersburg.

PETERSBURG - Everyone expected a battle. Everyone got what they expected. In Round 1 of what should definitely be two, and likely three, and possible four rounds altogether this season, that one would have to happen in Charleston, Petersburg bested Frankfort 57-51Tuesday night in Petersburg.

It was the good, old fashioned, slobber-knocker it was expected to be. Petersburg controlled the first three quarters but Frankfort made a last-ditch push close to closing time to cut the Vikings lead down to a single bucket. It just wouldn’t be enough as Petersburg held on for the six-point victory.

Petersburg opened the game with an impressive first quarter, tripling up the Falcons on the way to a 15-5 lead in the first frame. But Frankfort would respond, edging the Vikings 16-13 in second quarter play to cut the Black and Red’s lead to seven points, 28-21, at the half.

Frankfort opened the second half on a 6-0 run but Petersburg regained control and edged the Lady Falcons 17-15 in third quarter play to take a nine point, 45-36 leading into the final stanza. Frankfort outscored Petersburg 15-12 in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit they faced.

Credit Petersburg for holding off the late Frankfort surge. Credit Frankfort for the late surge when others may have given up.

“We missed a lot of shots. My goodness did we miss a lot of shots. But, the big thing is, we’re down 10 late on the other team’s court, they’re getting ready to take us out of the game, but they didn’t give up,” Frankfort coach Steve Willison stated after the contest.

“Our girls fought back to get in it, they played hard, and we had a shot to win it. Sure, there are things you could complain about, but the biggest thing is, they did not give up. If they would just quit on the floor, there’s a lot of teams we would lose to. But tonight, in our team, I saw a team that wasn’t willing to lose,” Willison continued.

Frankfort, just now experiencing their first loss with a record of 7-1, enters a tough four-game stretch that includes AAA squads Ripley and Winfield on the road, then Keyser and Trinity Christian at home.

Willison believes the experience at Petersburg will be beneficial for his team moving forward, “Just the fact that they know that when they are behind, they have the ability to come back. It gave them confidence. You can see all teams, when they get down 10, you start seeing them get down. My team was a little bit. But, you know, when they fought back, you could see they knew they had a shot to win the game.”

According to Willison, “They are depressed about losing, but they can’t wait to play them at our place, they really can’t.

Frankfort was led in scoring by three players notching double-digit tallies. Halley Smith led the way with 17 points, Larae Grove was next with 14 points, and Arin Lease 10 points. Next was Emily Smith with eight points, and Grace Scott with two points.

It was a valiant effort from Smith, playing on the day a family member was laid to rest. Playing her usual style of tenacious defense, Smith would eventually foul out, but lasted until the final minutes.

“Halley can handle things. She didn’t give up on the floor. Anybody, you know, you bury a grandfather, you love them, and a lot of people wouldn’t be able to do anything for days. But that’s how tough this girl is, she comes out to play. Even after the game, she was thinking about the game. Not that she wasn’t thinking about her grandfather, but she’s a senior, she knows how to handle things,” Willison explained.

Despite the tough loss, Willison was positive in his attitude, and quick to praise Petersburg.

Willison was adamant in stating, “The best team always wins. Today, the best team won. Hopefully not the next time we play. Hopefully we’re the best team.”

Petersburg coach Jon Webster was obviously happy to get the win, particularly over sectional rival Frankfort.

“It seemed a lot like the last five or six games we’ve played with them. Both teams played extremely hard, it was a very physical game. And, just when you think someone is going to develop some separation, then somebody else makes a run. That’s just the way it’s been between us, and I didn’t expect anything different tonight. It was just a hard-fought game all the way around,” Webster detailed.

Webster was quick to credit Frankfort’s effort, especially the Falcons’ play late, “They made a really hard push at the end. I don’t know what kind of run they went on, but they definitely stepped up the pressure defensively and created some turnovers that transitioned into some basket for them. So, they did a great job of fighting back, which we’ve seen with them. We knew it was not over until the buzzer sounds.”

For their part, Petersburg was led in scoring by Braylee Corbin with a game-high 25 points. Corbin got off to a blistering start with 12 points in the first quarter, then added a three pointer in the second quarter to tally 15 points in the first half. An eight-point third quarter was followed by two free throws in the final quarter to bring her total points to 25.

“Braylee has really stepped into a role of being a scorer. Most of the time growing up, she’s been able to put the ball into the basket, she just finds a way to do it. We needed her to do that tonight, and she did a really good job attacking in transition,” Webster stated. “She also did a good job of picking and choosing the times to attack in half-court as well. She definitely felt confident tonight, she saw the first couple come through, and she played a really strong game.”

While nobody other than Corbin scored in double figures for Petersburg, Mickala Taylor and Kennedy Kaposy were close with nine points each. In addition, Mackenzie Kitzmiller added four points, Sadie Dayton and Abby Alt three points apiece, and Nellie Whetzel and Brooklynn Rohrbaugh two points each.

Webster heaped praise on the defensive effort, particularly the way the defensive attack helped spur the offense, “We have to create a little bit of disruption for our defense, and try to get some of those easy buckets. When we do that, it seems to make the half-court offense flow better. Being able to get some of those steals and get some easy ones, I thought, was a big confidence booster.”

According to Webster, “We try to find ways to make people uncomfortable, and when we do that, we’re pretty successful. That can look different every night. Tonight with them it was try to speed them up, and try to make as many ball handlers handle it as possible, and it was effective for us.”

“I thought Kennedy (Kaposy) played extremely hard. She’s really kind of our defensive leader, especially up at the front of the press. She’s the one that gets tasked to guard the best player. Her energy is something that’s really hard to duplicate, because it seems like she never gets tired. She just keeps playing so hard,” Webster detailed.

Round 1 goes to Petersburg. Round 2 will take place in Short Gap on Feb. 8. Circle it on your calendar.