Clutch shooting and persistence propelled the Southern Fulton girls basketball team in a comeback 58-53 win against the McConnellsburg Spartans on Thursday night.
The Indians opened the game playing poorly on offense and defense, putting up only four points in the first quarter while giving up 15 to the Spartans. But as the game progressed, the Indians began looking more comfortable and started whittling away at the McConnellsburg lead basket by basket.
"It's always hard to play McConnellsburg for us. It's a big mental game but I think we fought through it," Southern Fulton coach Meagan Mellott said. "We kept focusing on getting a stop every time down the floor on defense and then converting on offense."
By the time the fourth quarter came around, Southern Fulton (9-5, 7-2 Sideling Hill League, 6-2 Inter-County Conference) had managed to trim the lead down to just one point and had momentum going its way. Indian senior Olivia Mottern had been blanketed for most of the game, but came alive in the third, scoring seven points in the quarter and four pivotal points in the fourth.
"We were a little shaky at the beginning of the game but we definitely came on at the end," Mottern said. "They were really keying in on me defensively, so the other girls on my team really stepped up and hit shots and made a big difference."
One of the teammates that made key shots late in the game was Emily Bradshaw, who had five fourth-quarter points and finished the game with 14, while Mottern accounted for a game-high 20.
"It's a huge win for us. Now that McConnellsburg is 2A those points are really big for us at the end of the season," coach Mellott said. "We did our best to take (Bronwyne) Mellott out of her game; she's a great player and shutting her down was definitely our main objective."
After surrendering the lead, the Spartans (7-4, 4-3 SHL, 2-3 ICC) refused to throw in the towel. McConnellsburg gave its leading scorer, Bronwyne Mellott, the ball and she drove the lane and got fouled multiple times, resulting in eight late free throws.
The Spartans, however, couldn't slow the Indians enough to take back the lead.
Mellott finished with 19 points, leaving her just eight points shy of reaching the 2,000 mark for her career, a feat only five area athletes have ever accomplished.
McConnellsburg coach Brent Seville declined comment after the game.