WILLOW HILL - The Fannett-Metal girls basketball team geared up its best shot for Thursday night's Sideling Hill League and Inter-County Conference home game against Southern Fulton.
Once again, however, the Indians took care of business, 79-57.
Early on F-M - eager to avenge a 30-point loss from earlier in the season - did pose a test for the first-place Indians.
"We knew that they were going to be playing strong against us," Southern Fulton guard Taelor Morton said.
Trailing by eight points after eight minutes, the Tigers (10-9, 4-9 SHL, 5-9 ICC) went on an 8-2 run highlighted by fastbreak baskets from Megan Dougherty and Melissa Zeger. But the 21-19 score was as close as Southern Fulton allowed them to get.
The Indians (21-1, 13-1 SHL, 13-1 ICC) countered with a 10-0 run. Ashley Roman started things with a layup. Allison Spade hit four free throws in a row, then SF's Macey Hollenshead got in the action, dishing assists to Morton twice for layups.
"We got gassed a little bit," Tiger coach Jen Lauthers said. "We put some subs in when we were down by two next thing you we're down by seven and I've got to get (my starters) back (out there) and they're looking at me and their tongues are dragging on the ground."
Morton finished with 25 points to lead all scorers.
"I just felt like when I was getting passed to I was feeling it and I just kept going up strong and thinking it was going in," Morton said. "If I think it's going in, then normally it goes in."
Hollenshead scored 16 points, most of which came only if she couldn't find a wide-open teammate. Thirteen times she did find an unguarded teammate, translating into 26 Indian points.
"Macey knows where everybody is and she knows whose at the best spot to score," Southern Fulton coach Terry Bard said. "If you're anywhere close to the basket, get ready because the ball's coming. And the girls are aware of that - they don't even have to talk, they can see each other and they know what's going to happen."
Her ability to handle the offense and trust her teammates to make open shots justifies the Indians shooting 53% in the game. Along with Hollenshead and Morton, Roman (10 points) and Spade (10 points) were also in double digits.
In the third quarter Dougherty continued her hot play. Despite a 50-28 SF lead, she scored eight straight points. After completing back-to-back three-point plays, Dougherty recovered a Blaire Lauthers miss for a putback layup. She also led the Tigers with three steals in the game - bringing her season total to 62 thefts and tying the school record (217) held previously by Lori Gipe-McAllen, who now teaches at the school.
With under four minutes to play, though, Dougherty took a inadvertent blow to the face on defense. With the other nine players hustling back to the other end of the court, F-M's senior point guard lay face-first beneath the basket, leaving everyone uneasy.
Jen Lauthers said, "When I got to her and got her to answer me, she said that her neck was really sore so that's when we just decided not to move her and let the professionals (EMTs) take care of it."
Blaire Lauthers led F-M in scoring with 15 points, while also getting to the charity stripe eight times.
"We told (the girls) one of our goals was to get to the foul line," Jen Lauthers said. "I think that was part of her motivation."
Zeger also stepped up for the Indians with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Dougherty finished with 12 points and Jodi Adams had 10, which was a career high.
"We have three very winnable games to end the season," Tigers assistant coach Todd Best said. "We want to win those three and get some confidence back - get a little momentum. Maybe we can be that surprise team and get past the first round and be that team that nobody wants to see."
Jeff Kolb can be reached at 262-4819 or email@example.com.
Southern Fulton 79
Ashley Roman 5 0-1 10, Kayla Chilcote 3 2-2 8, Kayla Wertz 4 0-0 8, Taelor Morton 12 1-2 25, Macey Hollenshead 6 4-5 16, Morgan Strait 2 0-0 4, Maddie Mellott 0 0-0 0, Allison Spade 3 4-4 10, Celina Merchant 0 0-0 0, Shaye Smartt 0 0-0 0, Christina Koontz 0 0-0 0, Tylar Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals 35 11-14 79.
Megan Dougherty 4 4-4 12, Blaire Lauthers 5 5-8 15, Melissa Zeger 3 6-6 12, Amanda Laye 1 0-0 2, Naomi Fields 1 0-0 2, McKenna Bair 1 0-0 2, Jodi Adams 4 2-2 10, Taylor Falcone 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 17-20 57.
Southern Fulton 19 25 22 15 - 79
Fannett-Metal 11 14 18 14 - 57
Shooting - SF 35-66 (53%); FM 20-69 (29%). Rebounds - SF 22 (Roman 7); FM 35 (Zeger 14, Lauthers 9). Assists - SF 25 (Hollenshead 13, T.Morton 10); FM 11. Steals - SF 15 (Hollenshead 5, Morton 4); FM 8 (Dougherty 3). Turnovers - SF 10; FM 18. Blocked shots - FM 3 (Dougherty 2).
Next game: SF: Saturday, in ICC championship vs. Bellwood-Antis at Claysburg-Kimmel, 6 F-M: Wednesday, at Mount Union, 7:30.