By Steve Keenan
Facing Fayette County rival Valley Monday, the Fayetteville High girls struck a blow for improved section seeding.
The Class A No. 10 Pirates, who lost to the Greyhounds 55-52 on Dec. 17, pulled away in the second half in the second meeting, posting a 66-45 triumph to improve their record to 9-3.
In a hotly-contested game that featured some testy exchanges between opposing players in the closing minutes, the Pirates took care of business in the waning stages to pull away.
“Us two and Meadow Bridge are all fighting for seeding,” said Fayetteville coach John Mark Kincaid. “This region has gotten so much tougher.
“This was two quality teams playing. They (Valley) are tough, so this is a big one for us.”
No. 8 Valley held a 31-29 lead when leading scorer Alexis Payne picked up her third and fourth personal fouls in quick succession, the latter coming at the 3:58 mark of the third period. Senior Jessica Brown tied the contest at 31-31 then put the Pirates ahead 33-32 with an inside bucket. Brown later blocked a Valley shot and converted the defensive play into a three-point play on the other end, making it 36-32 with :0:53 remaining in the third.
Valley’s Abby Buchan (off a Kelsey Bird feed) and Fayetteville’s Avina Sedlock traded 3-point goals to end the quarter at 39-35.
The hosts’ lead stood at six, 43-37, then Brown sank both ends of a one-and-one and Erica Hogan scored of a Kathryn Peelish assist to stretch the margin to 10, 47-37.
Buchan’s trey from the right wing with 2:34 left made it 55-45, but the Pirates closed out the victory with an 11-0 run, including a 5-of-6 effort from the charity stripe by Brown.
Brown concluded a stellar evening with 34 points and 14 rebounds. Sedlock tossed in 16 points, and Hogan collected seven points and seven rebounds.
Buchan paced the Greyhounds with 21 points, and Bird tossed in 11.
The setback was Valley’s fourth straight after starting the season 8-0. First-year Valley coach Richie Cantrell says his team came up short because of one simple reason. “We just got beat on fundamentals,” he said. “You can’t win a basketball game (without fundamentals).”
“Until we learn to play as a team we can’t beat anybody,” he added. “This team was a good team and well-coached.”
Fayetteville hosts Montcalm at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Fayette County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building and plays Clay-Battelle on Saturday for third place in the West Virginia Hometown Invitational Tournament at South Harrison High School.