Some key struggles on the boards by Fayette, which could have been brought on by fatigue, allowed Hilltop to recover from a 10-point second half deficit to defeat the Eagles on their home floor, 50-49, in BBC girls basketball action Tuesday.
“When you lose by one point, you tend to look at the last 3 to 4 minutes of the game and see what went wrong, but there were many areas in the first 28 minutes that we could have improved upon,” said Fayette coach Tim Morr on the loss which dropped his team to 0-13 on the year. “That being said, with us not being able to bring as many girls off the bench as other teams, we tend to get pretty tired in the fourth quarter. I think that Hilltop had some fresher legs in the game down the stretch and they were able to get some key rebounds and draw some fouls on us due to us being a little tired.”
The Eagles used a barrage of three-pointers in the third quarter to grab the lead.
Following Felicity Jackson’s basket on a dribble penetration which made it 21-16 Hilltop at the start of the second half, Mataya Rufenacht and Kaitlin Brubaker of Fayette each responded with threes to put the Eagles in front.
Abby Schaper then scored inside for Hilltop, but Brubaker banged in another three, Janaya Hibbard drilled a jump shot and Rhys Ruger’s triple gave Fayette a 30-23 advantage at the 2:40 mark of the third. Becca Miller then got a bucket for the Cadets, however, those were their last points of the quarter outside of 1 of 2 free throws from Jackson.
The Eagles got 1 of 2 from the foul line by Ruger, a triple by Rufenacht, and a pair from the line by Hibbard to make it 36-26 heading into the fourth.
“I think in the third quarter, the fact that we were able to drive and get to the basket allowed us to kick the ball out to open shooters and we were finally able to make some shots,” said Morr. “But those shots are not open if we do not do a good job of penetrating and kicking it out.”
However, thanks to some strong work on the glass, the Cadets were able to pull within six in the first 40 seconds of the fourth quarter.
First Audrey Funkhouser split a pair from the line, and after Hilltop grabbed the rebound on her miss, Kara Brown converted a jumper. Jackson got a steal and drew a foul for the Cadets on Fayette’s ensuing possession, knocking down 1 of 2 to make it 36-30 at the 7:20 mark.
The Eagles maintained their distance from that point until a three by Kara Brown got Hilltop within 44-42 with 3:03 remaining. Hibbard and Rufenacht then both split a pair free throws around a putback basket from Brown, but Jackson converted a drive to the hoop which knotted the score at 46 with 1:42 left to play.
Another jumper from Hibbard put the Eagles back on top, and after a basket by the Cadets, Rufenacht went 1 of 2 from the line to keep them ahead by one with under a minute left.
However, Ariana Brown’s basket with 17 seconds to go put Hilltop up by the final tally. After a Fayette turnover and two missed free throws from the Cadets, the Eagles could not convert as time expired.
The Eagles led 10-6 after the first quarter, but a bucket in the paint for Hilltop’s Johnnie Roth and a triple from Aubrey Wyse put the Cadets on top 1:25 into the second. Jackson then tacked on a free throw, Hibbard tied it at 12 with a drive to the hoop, and a three from Jackson made it 15-12 with 3:16 until half.
Fayette quickly responded with a three-point play from Brubaker, then 1 of 2 free throws by Brubaker reclaimed the lead for the Eagles. It was short-lived, however, as a jumper by Jackson and 1 of 2 free throws from Wyse made it 19-16 at the half.
Rufenacht paced the Eagles with 15 points, Brubaker notched 12, and both Hibbard and Ruger finished with 11. Jackson finished with 16 and Wyse 10 for Hilltop (4-9).
Fayette will host rival Pettisville on Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010