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Indians win from the line

February 07, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - In a storied history filled with wild finishes, emotionally charged games and some simply spectacular performances, the Southern Fulton girls basketball team did nothing very memorable in its Thursday night game with county rival McConnellsburg.

In fact, the Indians did what they had been doing a lot of in practice since an early-season loss to these same Spartans - shooting free throws.

Over and over again.

Southern Fulton went to the line 36 times - dropping in 24 -to outdistance McConnellsburg, 69-54.

Indians point guard Bethany Mellott did the majority of the damage, knocking down 11 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter. But Southern Fulton was deadly from the free throw line, especially on the front ends of one and ones.

"Foul shooting lost the first game against McConnellsburg for us," Southern Fulton coach Mark Mellott said. "After that game, we decided we were not going to allow a breakdown in a fundamental like that to beat us."

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Mellott said that first loss bothered his team to the point where each player shot between 75 and 100 free throws per night before leaving practice.

You don't have to convince McConnellsburg coach Audrey Hall of that fact.

"We won that first game because we hit our foul shots," Hall said. "Tonight, Southern Fulton came out and forgot all about that last game."

As confident as the Indians appeared on offense, McConnellsburg stumbled through a tortuous first quarter of shooting the ball.

After Steph Paylor put the Spartans up 2-0 on a running jumper to open the game, McConnellsburg went 3-for-17 from the floor as the Indians built a 17-7 lead.

"Our shooting hurt us," Hall said. "But even after we got going, we just didn't attack their flat zone defense. Southern Fulton did a great job not giving us an opening."

The Indians played the Spartans even through the second quarter, building a 30-19 lead at the half.

But Southern Fulton opened the third quarter with a furious pace on offense as Samantha Cain, Jenny Liggett and Mellott took control heading a 12-2 run that would frustrate the Spartans.

When Nikkia Watson drained a 22-footer with just under five minutes in the quarter, Southern Fulton led 42-23, forcing the Spartans into a game plan they certainly didn't want.

The Spartans had to fight the clock while slowing the Indians attack that targeted the zone under the boards. The fouls mounted.

"We played hard, but Southern Fulton wanted this a little more," Hall said.

McConnellsburg rallied one last time to start the fourth quarter as back-to-back 3s by Molly Schooly and Paylor closed the gap to 49-42, but the Indians opened it back up as fouls finally caught up to the Spartans.

"(Bethany) Mellott took control in the last part of the game and showed

her leadership," Mellott said. "I was pleased with the team effort here

tonight. This is a tough building to win a game in."

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