By Steve Keenan
They hadn’t won since Dec. 13, so a 57-54 triumph Monday no doubt provided a little bit of a morale boost for the Fayetteville Pirates.
As an added bonus, the verdict came after a hotly-contested battle with Fayette County rival Meadow Bridge.
“We needed that (on the heels of two tough losses),” said Fayetteville girls coach John Mark Kincaid. “This is always a closely-contested game.
“Meadow Bridge played extremely hard. They were more aggressive than we were.”
“It’s a really tough one for us to lose,” Meadow Bridge coach Steve Taylor said. “We played our hearts out and came up short.
“It just came down to possessions.”
With Meadow Bridge still leading 54-53 after a missed Chandra Harrah free throw with 48 seconds left, Fayetteville’s Avina Sedlock was fouled while misfiring on a 3-pointer and made two of the ensuing three charity tosses, then followed that up by canning both ends of a one-and-one with 10 ticks left to hand the Pirates the three-point win.
Behind the interior play of Allison Gilkerson and Sarah Fleshman, Meadow Bridge — which trailed by 13 points in the first period — clawed back into contention and built up a 37-29 lead in the third quarter. Fayetteville rallied, but the Wildcats still led by three points twice, 52-49 and 54-51, in the final 2:25 before the Pirates’ Jessica Brown hit a running one-hander in the lane to trim the deficit to 54-53 and set the stage for Sedlock’s free-throw heroics.
“We made some foul shots and put a little wrinkle on them (defensively),” said Kincaid.
Brown tallied 10 points to power the Pirates to a 22-9 first-period lead, but foul trouble limited her playing time the rest of the half.
“We’ve got to learn to play without Jessica Brown,” said Kincaid. “She had two silly reach fouls. That was her fault.”
Had Brown remained on the floor, Kincaid felt his team was in a groove and “would have extended the lead.” As it was, the Wildcats “got more aggressive and started attacking.”
Caitlin White started the second-quarter comeback with a 3-pointer, and Fleshman netted five straight to trim Fayetteville’s lead to 22-17. The ‘Cats eventually knotted the score at 24 on a Gilkerson putback with 3:00 left, then Fleshman made a freebie and Harrah converted a steal into two points, handing Meadow Bridge a 27-24 lead.
“We turned the ball over early, then we moved some spots on defense and got into our 1-3-1 to get a spark,” Taylor said in explaining how his team got back in the game. “We started hitting some shots and getting some steals.
“In the end, they pounded it inside a couple of times and we didn’t get over to front them.”
After the Wildcats moved into the eight-point lead, Fayetteville made another run to regain control. A Brown free throw and a putback by Alysia Sedlock cut the MB lead to 38-34, then Brown led a fast break, passed to Avina Sedlock and got the ball back for a deuce to make it 38-36.
Avina Sedlock then put Fayetteville back in front with a trey off a Maddie Pritt assist, and Alysia Sedlock pushed the Pirate cushion to three, 41-38, on a bucket with 35 seconds left.
Brown collected 21 points and 12 rebounds for Fayetteville. Avina Sedlock tossed in 18 points.
For Meadow Bridge, Fleshman led with 15 points, and Harrah and Gilkerson contributed 12 each.
The Wildcats (5-3) and the Pirates (6-2) will each compete Saturday in the inaugural girls division of the third annual West Virginia Hometown Invitational Tournament.
Meadow Bridge will host Montcalm at 2 p.m., while Fayetteville will entertain Richwood that evening. A junior varsity game will be played at 5:45 p.m., followed by the varsity.
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Fayetteville 57, Meadow Bridge 54
Meadow Bridge (5-3)
Chandra Harrah 5 0-1 12, Allison Gilkerson 6 0-2 12, Sarah Fleshman 5 5-10 15, Caitlin White 2 2-2 7, Courtney Mullins 2 2-2 6, Ally Redden 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 9-17 54.
Jessica Brown 8 5-7 21, Erica Hogan 2 0-0 4, Kaitlyn Sisler 2 0-0 5, Avina Sedlock 6 4-5 18, Kathryn Peelish 2 0-0 4, Alysia Sedlock 2 1-2 5. Totals: 22 10-14 57.
MB 9 18 13 14 — 54
F 22 4 15 16 — 57
3-point goals — MB: 3 (Harrah 2, White); F: 3 (Sisler, Av. Sedlock 2). Fouled out — none.