WARFORDSBURG - The Southern Fulton girls basketball team trotted onto its home court Friday night for warmups without much idea of what the team across the court could bring.
And in the first quarter of the Indians' District 5 Class A playoff game against Shanksville, they were knocked back on their heels. But the second-seeded Indians were not about to let the Vikings win the battle that easily.
Southern Fulton found its groove thanks to a second-quarter surge to claim a 47-36 victory over Shanksville.
The Indians (18-5) will continue their playoff journey Wednesday against Berlin in the District 5 semifinal round, with a site to be determined.
"We didn't have any film on them so we didn't really know what to expect," Southern Fulton's Olivia Mottern said. "We just wanted to go out and play a good game, and get the win any way possible."
After a tight first quarter, Shanksville (12-11) went on a seven-point run to take its first lead of the night, but after taking a timeout to refocus, Southern Fulton went on a run of its own thanks to four consecutive free throws by leading scorer Mottern. From there, the Indians never looked back.
"They just needed to buckle down and play defense," Southern Fulton coach Meagan Raville said. "As soon as we started doing that our offense came to us and we started getting turnovers and easy buckets. Once we focused on one area of our game everything came together."
Shanksville had 13 turnovers in the first half alone, more than Southern Fulton had the entire game.
"We didn't match up to their physicality," Shanksville coach Jeffrey Kimmel said. "They started pushing us around a little bit, and the physicality on offense led to us breaking down on defense.
"They were putting a lot of pressure on us and we were making poor decisions. We went on a little bit of a run in the second and they had that look in their eyes, like, 'We can do this', but we couldn't continue to match Southern Fulton's intensity."
Southern Fulton senior Celina Merchant was an explosive threat on both ends of the court, forcing turnovers, fighting for rebounds and using her speed to drive to the basket. She finished the game with 11 points. She led the team with nine rebounds and also had three steals.
"She's been our defensive go-to all season long - with a player like Celina you know you are going to get 110 percent every game," Raville said. "She works hard on both ends of the floor and she led the charge tonight."
Mottern finished with 18 points, including a perfect 7-for-7 from the line. Ten of her 18 points came in the second quarter alone.
"We weren't looking inside enough," Raville said. "(Mottern) had an advantage inside tonight and I don't think we were doing enough to get the ball into the post. I think as soon as the girls realized how open it was and they went to her she took care of business."
Shaye Smartt rounded out double-figure scorers with 10 points.
For Shanksville, Sydney Stutzman and Trista Stutzman each scored 13 points. Sydney also had eight rebounds.
Southern Fulton 47, Shanksville 36
Sydney Stutzman 6 1-2 13, Kara Platt 0 0-0 0, Aly Platt 2 0-0 4, Kassidy Cable 1 1-4 3, Trista Stutzman 5 3-6 13, Lexus Wilt 1 1-3 3, Lynne Brewer 0 0-0 0, Morgan Rullo 0 0-0 0. Totals — 15 6-15 36.
So. Fulton (47)
Celina Merchant 5 1-1 11, Lakyn Morton 3 1-3 7, Shaye Smartt 4 1-1 10, Olivia Mottern 5 7-7 18, Drew Gordon 0 0-0 0, Maddie Baker 0 0-0 0, Fallon Ritz 0 0-0 0, Jessie Covalt 0 0-0 0, Drew Hann 0 1-2 1, Emily Bradshaw 0 0-1 0. Totals — 17 11-15 47.
Shanksville _ 11 _ 8 _ 6 _ 11 _ — _ 36
So. Fulton _ 14 _ 15 _ 16 _ 2 _ — _ 47
3-point goals — SF 2 (Mottern, Smartt).