For Public Opinion
McCONNELLSBURG - The Fannett-Metal boys basketball team returned from a six-day layoff and picked up right where it left off.
Walker Bannister scored 24 points to lead three teammates in double figures as the visiting Tigers rang in the new year with a 72-68 victory over Sideling Hill League/ICC rival McConnellsburg on Friday night.
The Tigers, who hit 11-of-29 shots from 3-point range, surpassed the 70-point plateau for the fourth time this season.
"I thought we shot the ball well from the outside," Fannett-Metal coach Greg Best said. "They wanted us to shoot from the outside; they packed it in. They were scrappy and they really hustled at times - in fact I thought they got after the ball more than we did. It seemed like we'd make a run and build a lead and they'd come right back."
Jordan Hurrell added 16 points while Trevor Reisinger had 14 and Ben Metcalfe contributed 10 for the Tigers, who won their sixth in a row. Their only loss this season was a 68-48 opening-night setback at Chestnut Ridge.
Bannister said, "It got a little rough toward the end, but this is a huge rivalry and that's what drives us - losing to them is the worst. Right now we're taking things one game at a time. It's an old cliché, but it works."
Bannister, who finished 6-of-13 from 3-point range, also grabbed 14 rebounds.
"I love taking those 3s," said the 6-foot-3 junior. "They're my favorite."
Tyler Green scored 20 points, and Jesse Swope 16 for McConnellsburg, which has dropped two of its last three. The Spartans' Tony White struggled from the floor, making 5 of 16 shots for 14 points, but had six rebounds and five assists.
McConnellsburg coach Denny Swope said, "Rebounding was the big difference in the first half, then we changed things up in the second half and made the guards sink in to help rebound and that helped us out. I thought we took care of the basketball pretty well considering the pace of the game. We simply ran out of time and I could have used a few more subs for my guards - they were pretty well spent."
Fannett-Metal (5-1, 3-1 SHL, 4-0 ICC) used a 10-3 spurt to take a 15-6 lead and was up 38-29 at halftime. The Spartans opened the second half on a 14-5 run, tying the contest at 43-43 on a pair of Tony White free throws before the Tigers took control again. Bannister's 3-pointer gave F-M a 69-61 lead with 3:19 left, and the Tigers held firm until the final buzzer.
"They cut it late in the second half, but I thought it took a lot of energy to get there," Best said. "Then we got a little lead and maintained it."
Fannett-Metal repeatedly limited the Spartans to one shot by grabbing the defensive rebound. The Tigers had a 46-32 edge on the boards, including 21-11 on the offensive glass.
The scene was hauntingly familiar to the Spartans, who have lost 10 in a row to Fannett-Metal.
"I'm definitely happy with our play tonight," Swope said. "We just couldn't seem to get over the hump. These are always close battles; we just need to get the monkey off our back. The talent is here, so hopefully it will soon come."
Metcalfe and Dylan Bradley led a Tiger bench that had a 14-8 scoring advantage over McConnellsburg (2-4, 0-3 SHL, 1-3 ICC).
Best said, "We like to push the ball and get a lot of people involved. We take a lot of shots - we don't like to waste any time."
Walker Bannister 8-18 2-4 24, Jordan Hurrell 5-23 2-4 16, Trevor Reisinger 5-9 4-7 14, Ben Metcalfe 3-6 3-4 10, Bryce Chilcote 2-4 0-0 4, Dylan Bradley 1-2 2-2 4, Ryan Snyder 0-4 0-2 0, Dan Peppernick 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-66 13-23 72.
Tyler Green 6-14 2-5 20, Jesse Swope 7-13 0-0 16, Tony White 5-16 4-10 14, Nick Daniels 2-9 4-6 8, Matt Snyder 3-7 0-0 6, Hunter Miller 1-4 0-0 2, Tyrel White 1-4 0-1 2, Jake Boehme 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-67 10-22 68.
Fannett-Metal 18 20 18 16 - 72
McConnellsburg 13 16 18 21 - 68
3-point shots - FM 11-29 (Bannister 6, Hurrell 4, Metcalfe); McC 8-22 (Green 6, Swope 2). Shooting - FM 36.4%; McC 37.3%. Rebounds - FM 46 (Bannister 14); McC 32 (Ty.White 7). Assists - FM 17 (Hurrell 5); McC 16 (To.White 5). Steals - FM 4 (Chilcote 2); McC 7 (Green 4). Blocked shots - FM 4 (Chilcote 4); McC 0. Turnovers - FM 12; McC 8. Fouls - FM 19; McC 17. Technical foul - To.White. Fouled out - Swope.
JV: McConnellsburg 46, Fannett-Metal 41. Jake Boehme (17) led the Spartans; Ben Metcalfe scored 18 for F-M.
Next game: F-M: Saturday, at home vs. James Buchanan, 7:30 McConnellsburg: Monday, at Hyndman, 7:30.