ELIDA – Showing the same grit and determination as they did Thursday against New London, the Fayette girls basketball team was nearly state bound until a late flurry from Fostoria St. Wendelin allowed the Mohawks to come back for a 37-29 win, bowing the Eagles out of the Division IV regional at Elida on Saturday.
Although they trailed at the half, Fayette used a three-point play from Kaela Seiler near the end of the third quarter and floater by Hannah Machacek at the beginning of the fourth for a 27-23 lead.
St. Wendelin, whose offense primarily consisted of dumping it down low to 6-foot-4 Kamryn Troike despite her being double and sometimes triple teamed by Fayette, knotted the score after Troike scored inside and Hailee Burns’ jumper.
The Eagles then responded as Alexis Fruchey got a bucket in the paint to go ahead 29-27 with 4:19 left to play.
But the Mohawks would take the lead for good with Allie Rutter’s floater and Troike’s free throws after she was mugged by the Eagles on an entry pass inside. St. Wendelin scored the final 10 points of the game to close out the Eagles.
Three pointers by Seiler and Fruchey, as well as another bucket by Seiler helped Fayette drown out five points from Troike as they led 8-6 after the opening quarter.
St. Wendelin’s Mikayla Gilliland split a pair from the foul line to begin the second, then Sutter added a steal and score, Troike a basket down low and Burns a jumper as they took the lead 13-8 with 2:25 left in the half.
The Eagles closed the half with a pair of free throws each for Fruchey and Taylor Griffiths, but Troike’s putback made it 15-12 at the break.
Troike led all scorers with 19 points. Seiler shot 50 percent (4 of 8) from the field and had 10 points for Fayette. Fruchey added nine.
Lady Eagles down New London in OT
To get to the regional final, the Eagles fought off a rally from New London in the semifinal on Thursday, winning in overtime by a final of 48-42.
They did so with eight points from senior leader Taylor Griffiths in the overtime session, including six that came via the foul line. She finished with 21 points for game high scoring honors.
“She struggled early on but she persevered. I was really proud of her,” said Fayette coach Scoop Miller of Griffiths. “The kids did a nice job of finding her. You could tell that she wanted the ball in her hands down the stretch and she was able to make some big plays for us.”
Fayette led most of the way until Kennedy Howell converted a layup to put New London up 36-35 with 4:02 left in regulation. The Eagles then got a bucket from Griffiths and Seiler’s score on an inbound play around one of two free throws by New London’s Danielle Carruthers for a two-point lead.
Morgan Leudy of New London hit a pair from the charity stripe to knot the score at 39 with 2:12 left.
The Lady Cats had the final possession as they milked the clock down to 13 seconds before calling a timeout to set up a play for the win. However, Howell was forced to take a contested three with the clock winding down and it fell short to send the game to overtime.
Four straight freebies by Griffiths gave the Eagles a cushion in the extra session, however, Eden Copley buried a three to cut it to 43-42 with just 43 ticks left. But the Eagles put it away at the foul line as Griffiths knocked down four more and Machacek went one of two.
“I thought we got caught in no man’s land a little bit. They hit some shots and I thought it got in our kids’ heads a little bit,” stated Miller on New London being able to come back. “We were too worried.
“But to our kids’ credit, I really thought the fourth quarter and on they really made some good adjustments (defensively) and really protected the basket. And started moving their feet a lot better.”
The Eagles opened up an 8-2 cushion at the 3:05 mark of the first as Machacek hit a triple, and Fruchey a triple and a pair of free throws around two from the line by Carruthers. Seiler then hit a three in response to Carruthers’ basket down low to give Fayette an 11-4 lead after one.
The score was knotted at 12 midway through the second quarter, but the Eagles responded with 10 straight. Leading that charger were Seiler and Fruchey who scored four points apiece while Griffiths added two more.
Leudy buried a triple for New London to make it 22-15 at the break.
The Cats led briefly as Payton Shays hit two threes and also a pair of freebies to give them a 31-30 advantage with 37 seconds left in the third.
However, Griffiths quickly squashed that as she hit a three 15 seconds later to put them back on top by two.
“I thought that was big, when they did take the lead I thought our kids responded pretty well. And that’s what you want to see. You want to see your kids fight through adversity and I thought our kids did that,” stated Miller.
The Eagles were big at the foul line as they shot 90 percent, making 18 of 20 attempts.
Along with Griffiths, Fruchey notched 12 points and Seiler finished with 11. Leudy had 14 for New London.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010