Check out the top five plays from Wednesday's District 5-1A first round game between Fannett-Metal and Southern Fulton girls. Video by Lindsey Smith
Heading into the first round of the District 5 Class 1A tournament, the Fannett-Metal girls basketball team had a lot to prove.
And throughout Wednesday's first-round game, the Lady Tigers looked ready to upset the reigning district champion and prove the doubters wrong.
But that wasn't going to happen if Southern Fulton had anything to say about it.
The Indians pulled off a tight 63-60 win over the Tigers to move on to the District 5 semifinals against No. 2 Shanksville (16-3) on the road next Tuesday.
It was a back-and-forth game from the start, with Fannett-Metal working for rebounds and converting on uncharacteristic Southern Fulton turnovers. The Tigers had the edge as the time ticked off the clock at the end of the first and third quarters, but SF nailed a pair of clutch buzzer-beating shots - by Lindsey Hollenshead and Emily Bradshaw - to threaten the lead.
The Indians (16-7) also cleaned up their defense in the second half, which SF coach Meagan Mellott credited for the win. Southern Fulton out-rebounded Fannett-Metal 34-21 after flipping a switch at halftime.
"We prepared for them all week long for their trapping and really up in your face defense and they sagged off a little bit tonight, so we had to make some adjustments," Mellott said. "After that we picked our game up, but it came down to defense. And that's something we are really going to be focusing on going into the second round because we need to step our defense up in order to continue to advance."
Fannett-Metal (9-13) was led by Ally Hoffmann, who proved to be the spark for the Tigers, providing multiple game-tying buckets later in the game to keep F-M alive. She had 21 points, and was joined by Emily Metcalfe and Makayla O'Donel - each with 14 points - in double figures.
"We were just excited to get into the playoffs. We knew that we could compete with anyone in 1A in the district, so it wasn't a matter of who or where we played," Fannett-Metal coach Todd Best said. "We just wanted to keep the energy level up. We were able to rotate about eight deep and we really wanted to concentrate on not over-rotating too much. We had a lot of girls really step up."
Bradshaw led the Indians with 25 points as Southern Fulton played its third straight game without leading scorer Olivia Mottern, who continues to nurse an ankle injury. Drew Hann also scored in double figures, contributing 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
Hollenshead, a freshman, had her first taste of a District 5 playoff atmosphere, and thankfully for the Indians it won't be her last this year. Hollenshead said the team has to focus on some of the fundamentals in the next round.
"We just need to buckle down and play defense, finish around the rim, and making our foul shots is going to be big," Hollenshead said.
"We beat Fannett-Metal twice this season, but they could have easily come in here and beaten us as you can tell by the score," Mellott said. "So I hope it was a little bit of a reality check and I hope they dig a little deeper and work a little harder (moving forward)."