MARION - Shalom Christian entered its non-league girls basketball game against McConnellsburg with one thing in mind: to shut down Bronywne Mellott.
The Flames contained the sharpshooter in the first half, but couldn't keep the game in reach, falling to the Spartans 57-49 in the final five minutes, for their first loss of the season.
"This was our biggest challenge this season, and might be one of our biggest challenges all year," Shalom coach Brad Eby said. "So it was good for our teams to experience this."
Shalom (5-1) led McConnellsburg (5-2) at the half 27-24 and capitalized on Spartan inconsistency and keep them from the foul line, but fell flat in the fourth quarter.
"That's a big part of our game," McConnellsburg coach Brent Seville said. "We are an 80 percent foul-shooting team and a big part of our game is getting on the foul line, and when we don't get there the scoreboard shows it."
The Spartans stepped up to the line just 10 times, and converted on seven shots, six from Mellott, who sank each attempt.
"We were definitely trying to shut (Mellott) down and keep her to a certain amount of points, which I think we did really well at," Shalom Christian's Brooke Emge said. "Keeping her to those few points really helped a lot."
Mellott still scored 24 points, and earned her third double-double in four games with 12 rebounds. She also had three steals, two coming in the final five minutes of the game, leading to breakaway points in the final minute.
"We really needed that to make a bigger gap because the game was so close," Mellott said.
Alexis Mellott also scored a double-double for the Spartans with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
"Alexis really stepped up tonight," Seville said. "She has a beautiful shot, and I told her before, you have to get the open look and you have to shoot the ball. She loses confidence in herself and she had that confidence going strong tonight so she wasn't afraid to take the shots."
The game was neck-and-neck through 27 minutes, but Shalom's offense committed turnovers and let up defensively giving McConnellsburg the room it needed on the court.
"I think we let our guard down a little bit and we weren't playing as smart as we were in the beginning," Emge said. "We weren't getting bodies on for rebounds, so that hurt us."
Emge had 10 points, all in the first and third quarters, and six assists.
Shalom was led by Lydia Harris, who had 16 points and seven steals.
"I knew defensively we were going to have to be much better, and they have stepped up," Eby said. "I think they showed that tonight. They defended well and they can do that without fouling."
McConnellsburg 57, Shalom Christian 49
Alexis Mellott 7 1-2 18, Bridgette Ritchey 0 0-0 0, Justice Seville 3 0-0 7, Kylie Keefer 3 0-2 6, Bronwyne Mellott 9 6-6 24, Kellyn Perry 1 0-0 2. Totals — 23 7-10 57.
Shalom Christian (48)
Brooke Kuhns 1 0-0 2, Lexy Poe 2 0-2 5, Brooke Emge 5 0-1 10, Lydia Harris 7 1-5 16, Paige Hoover 3 0-0 7, Lauren Stains 2 2-1 5, Kylie Eby 1 2-2 4. Totals — 21 4-12 49.
McConnellsburg _ 16 _ 8 _ 14 _ 19 _ — _ 57
Shalom Chr. _ 15 _ 12 _ 10 _ 12 _ — _ 49
3-point goals — McC 4 (A.Mellott 3, Seville), SC 3 (Poe, Harris, Hoover).