Don't miss the top 5 plays from Friday's District 5 Class 2A semifinal game between McConnellsburg and North Star girls. Video by Lindsey Smith
The North Star Cougars had already upset one team in the District 5 Class 2A girls basketball tournament, and hoped to do it again Friday night against No. 2 McConnellsburg.
But when you're down by three with less than a minute to go, the last thing you want to do is foul McConnellsburg's Bronwyne Mellott - which is exactly what North Star did.
Mellott, who last year hit 90 percent from the line, helped the Spartans lock in a 64-59 win over North Star to punch their ticket to the championship, to be played against Northern Bedford on March 3, at the University of Pitt-Johnstown. No. 5 Northern Bedford upset No. 1 Windber 51-42 on Friday.
"The game plan was to press and not foul Mellott," North Star coach Kevin Nicklow said. "She's a great foul shooter and unfortunately she is so good that we couldn't keep her from getting the ball, and when you send her to the line at the end, she is going to make it."
Mellott stepped to the line with 26.6 seconds left and sank two free throws to decide the score.
Madyson Miller (17 points, 11 in the fourth quarter) was a main contributor to North Star's comeback in the fourth quarter, along with Maggie Friedline, who forced a number of turnovers in the final five minutes of the game to give the Cougars a fighting chance.
"We made a lot of bad passes in the fourth quarter down the stretch," McConnellsburg coach Brent Seville said. "We are a little rusty; we haven't played in almost two weeks, so hopefully we can learn from this."
McConnellsburg (16-7) finished the game with 11 turnovers and also struggled on the boards, pulling down just 19 rebounds. That worries Seville heading into the district final against Northern Bedford, a team the Spartans split with during the regular season.
"We did not want to face them," Seville said. "But now we will be on a neutral floor, so it will be interesting to see what happens there. All in all the girls played well tonight, but I'm a bit concerned with our rebounding at this point."
The Spartans' break between the regular season and Friday's semifinal game may have produced some rust on McConnellsburg's play, but it also allowed some much needed healing time for a few injured players. Friday was Katelyn Truax's first game back after missing three with an injury, while Kellyn Perry looks to be back at her normal pace after suffering from an Achillies injury in the last few games of the regular season.
"She was a big difference coming off the bench for us, especially on the boards," Seville said.
Mellott led the Spartans with 34 points, and is now just 25 points from breaking the McConnellsburg all-time scoring record. Justice Seville scored 15 for McConnellsburg off five 3-pointers, and McKenzie Gelvin contributed 10.