MCCONNELLSBURG - Saturday’s non-league girls basketball game between Franklin/Fulton county rivals McConnellsburg and James Buchanan fully lived up to its hype, even with both teams playing under completely different circumstances.
McConnellsburg was playing in a post-season precursor, and James Buchanan was looking to finish its season strong. The Rockets fought hard to overcome the favored McConnellsburg for a 62-54 win.
The physical game began with offensive scores coming quickly for both teams. Defensive schemes settled in and James Buchanan struggled to find the basket against the tight half-court zone defense of McConnellsburg. Solid rebounding and pushing the fast break led to an off-balanced James Buchanan and fouls followed suit. McConnellsburg capitalized and put up five points from the charity line in the first quarter. The first eight minutes were completed with McConnellsburg leading 17 -11.
Momentum changed midway through the second quarter as a few turnovers and defensive miscues proved to be detrimental for McConnellsburg (13-7).
Lady Spartan coach Brent Seville said, “There was a moment in the second quarter where our defense failed. Mental errors due to nerves or what, I’m not sure. I don’t think we ever were able to fully bounce back from that.”
James Buchanan connected on only four baskets in the second quarter, but three were from behind the arc.
With a combination of successful shooting from James Buchanan’s Charity Miller and Rachel Martin and all-in team hustle, JB took off in the second half of play. The Lady Rockets (10-11) outscored their opponents 19-8 in the third quarter and 21-19 in the final.
McConnellsburg’s Bronwyne Mellott seemed to keep her team lingering around throughout the second half of play. Twenty of her 34 points came in the second half.
James Buchanan coach Jen Lauthers said, “Bronwyne is legit, and you just try to limit her touches and keep her out of the paint, but then she can hit the three. Makes it very tough.”
James Buchanan’s highest scorer was Martin, who sank a majority of her points from the free-throw line. McConnellsburg’s game plan of catch up did not work out with Martin getting to the line for 15 shots and swishing 14.
“I just wanted to do what I did all season and have a good percentage from the free throw line.” Martin said. “Stay calm and keep a good mindset. I believe that’s what you got to do to win, so that’s what I was trying.”
Martin finished the game with 27 points.
JB’s second highest scorer, Miller, opened the game with a three-point basket, setting the tone for a successful night from behind the arc. She finished with seven 3-pointers and totaled 26 points.
“Honestly I didn’t feel too well before the game, but I just got into the game and was fine then," Miller said. "I guess it maybe helped me out a bit.”
Seville said, “JB is a good ball team and they played hard. But we needed to win this game. I hope we can recover quickly going into Monday and Tuesday's games. We need the wins for home court advantage in the playoffs.”
James Buchanan 62, McConnellsburg 54
James Buchanan (62)
Charity Miller 9 1-6 26, Abby Mackling 0 2-2 2, Rachel Martin 6 14-15 27, Tristen Amsley 3 1-2 7, Aspen Anderson 0 0-0 0, Saige Eckard 0 0-0 0, Madison Martin 0 0-0 0, Cassidy Martin 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 18-25 62.
Alexis Mellott 2 2-2 8, Bronwyne Mellott 14 6-6 34, Kylie Keefer 0 2-2 2, Justice Seville 1 0-0 3, Bridgette Ritchey 1 5-6 1, Kellyn Perry 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 15-18 54.
James Buchanan _ 11 _ 11 _ 19 _ 21 _ — _ 62
McConnellsburg _ 17 _ 11 _ 8 _ 19 _ — _ 54
3-point goals — JB 8 (Miller 7, R. Martin 1) McC 3 (A. Mellott 2, Seville 1).