WILLOW HILL - With only a couple of minutes left in the first quarter Thursday night, Fannett-Metal held a 15-11 lead over McConnellsburg in a competitive girls basketball game.
Then something changed drastically.
By the time the buzzer for halftime sounded, the Tigers had piled up a 39-15 advantage and F-M went on to claim a 63-37 Sideling Hill League and ICC victory over the Spartans.
"We didn't keep our composure and we let the game get away," a stunned McConnellsburg coach Dave Garland said. "I really thought this would be close, maybe come down to free throws or something. I just can't explain it."
Tiger coach Jen Lauthers' reasoning was interesting.
"We had a terrible practice yesterday, so we were due for a breakout," she said.
That breakout came after Libby Strayer sank a pair of foul shots to bring the Spartans (2-4, 0-3 SHL, 1-3 ICC) within 15-11.
F-M's Blaire Lauthers scored on a drive and a layup on an inbounds play, then Megan Dougherty drilled a 3-pointer to close out the first period on a 7-0 run and it was 22-11.
Dougherty then went wild in the second period. Fannett-Metal (5-2, 2-2 SHL, 1-2 ICC) outscored McConnellsburg 19-4 and Dougherty had 12 of those points. She had a layup off a feed from Amanda Laye, then put back a missed shot by Laye.
After the teams split four points, Dougherty scored eight consecutive points by herself, including a twisting, high-arcing layup, a steal and another fast break layup. It was suddenly 36-13.
"Meg and I had talked all week that we wanted to play a good game tonight," said Blaire Lauthers, who split 44 points evenly with Dougherty, "and we told the team that. I think it might have been the best we've played so far. We passed the ball well and everything was clicking."
While F-M was hitting 37 percent of its shots in the first half, the Spartans made just 6 of 33 (18%).
"We came out and fell right on our faces," Garland said. "We did nothing well in the first half, no aspect at all.
"We were making mistakes we probably haven't made since junior high."
Meanwhile, the Tigers were having their way.
Assistant coach Todd Best said, "We saw how things were going early, then we made some adjustments in the second quarter and did what we had to do. For example, Amanda got a rebound and got the ball to midcourt immediately and we got a fast-break basket out of it."
Fannett-Metal's offense, when not converting on fast breaks, made decisive passes that led to open shots, or players drove to the basket and created fouls.
For the game, F-M shot 26 free throws (making 16) to just four for McConnellsburg.
Jen Lauthers said, "We've been stressing pushing the ball down the floor when we can, and we want to attack and not be content with short jump shots.
"I like being in control of these games. We're able to make other teams adjust to what we're doing, instead of us adjusting to what they're doing."
NOTES: The Tigers also led in rebounding 50-37, led by Melissa Zeger's 22 boards Jessi Keefer paced the Spartans with 11 points and nine rebounds F-M made only three turnovers in the first half and just nine for the game; McConnellsburg had 18.
Ed Gotwals can be reached at 262-4755 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nikki Fleming 3-11 0-0 6, Brittany Parson 3-5 0-0 7, Libby Strayer 1-14 2-2 4, Jessi Keefer 5-11 0-0 11, Kyle Zittle 0-6 0-0 0, Sam Roberts 0-5 1-2 1, Kylie Keefer 2-5 0-0 4, Mara Houston 0-1 0-0 0, Katie Shore 1-3 0-0 2, Caitlyn Lynch 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 16-62 3-4 37.
Megan Dougherty 9-14 3-6 22, Blaire Lauthers 8-19 6-9 22, Amanda Laye 1-10 3-5 5, McKenna Bair 2-9 4-4 8, Melissa Zeger 2-12 0-1 4, Jodi Adams 1-1 0-0 2, Jess Becker 0-0 0-0 0, Caroline Yarish 0-1 0-0 0, Jillian Hamman 0-1 0-0 0, Alexis Mackey 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 23-67 16-26 63.
McConnellsburg 11 4 9 13 - 37
Fannett-Metal 22 19 20 4 - 63
3-point shots - McC 2-4 (Parson, J.Keefer); FM 1-2 (Dougherty). Shooting - McC 25.8%; FM 34.3%. Rebounds - McC 37 (J.Keefer 9); FM 50 (Zeger 22). Assists - McC 13 (Fleming 3); FM 12 (Dougherty 5). Steals - McC 11 (Zittle, Parson 3); FM 12 (Zeger 4). Turnovers - McC 18; FM 9. Blocked shots - McC 4 (J.Keefer, Houston 2); FM 3 (Zeger 2).
JV: McConnellsburg 42, Fannett-Metal 20. Kylie Keefer led the Spartans with 24 points; Tayler Falcone had 7 for the Tigers.
Next game: McConn: Monday, at Chestnut Ridge, 7:30 F-M: Saturday, at home vs. James Buchanan, 6.