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Indians perform a victory dance

February 24, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - Someone once said coaches should beware of the light at the end of the tunnel because it is usually a train.

Southern Fulton girls basketball coach Mark Mellott can relate.

Second-seeded Southern Fulton (21-4) survived a furious fourth-quarter rally with the help of 43 trips to the foul line Friday to hold feisty Turkeyfoot at arm's length for a 60-52 win in the opening round of the PIAA District 5 Class A playoffs.

The Indians suffered through some growing pains as the seventh-seeded Rams eroded a 16-point deficit down to 53-48 with 1:11 remaining. Southern Fulton has only one player with playoff experience on its roster.

"That is definitely not the same team that we saw last week," a relieved Mellott said. "But, we got the win, and right now, that is what counts. We tell our girls that anything can happen at this level. I think now they know."

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And how. Just because Turkeyfoot (9-15) came so close was testament to the Indians' ability to play well but were still unable to put the opposition away.

Southern Fulton's potent offense suffered through three scoring droughts of at least three minutes in the first half. But the Indians used the play of Bethany Mellott and Jenny Liggett in the paint for a 28-17 halftime lead.

"I thought we would be a little rusty coming in tonight," Mellott said. "I just didn't think it would stay with us for four quarters."

After Jessie Wigfield hit two free throws to give Southern Fulton a 40-22 lead midway through the third quarter, Turkeyfoot's physical zone defense keyed a 14-4 run to bring the Rams back within striking distance.

Samantha Cain gave the Indians some breathing room by hitting three 3s in four minutes, but Turkeyfoot remained close.

That is, until the Rams' fouls began to mount, giving Mellott the scenerio he wanted. Southern Fulton had the opportunity to win the game from the foul line.

"We have been a good foul shooting team," Mellott said. "We don't panic in these situations - it was a matter of doing what we had practiced over and over again."

The Indians hit nine of their last 12 free throws - including six straight by Bethany Mellott in the final minute - to ice the win and advance in the tournament.

"Tonight may have been Bethany's best overall game," Mellott said. "She is a 75 percent free-throw shooter but out there, it only counted what she did in that last minute."




Southern Fulton 60, Turkeyfoot 52

TURKEYFOOT (52)

Augustine 17, Prince 7, Smith 4, DeHaven 12, Wheatley 2, Kimmel 10. Totals 21 9-16 52.

SOUTHERN FULTON (60)

Mellott 16, Liggett 8, Watson 5, Bard 12, Cain 16, Wigfield 3. Totals 14 28-43 60.

Turkeyfoot 5 12 11 24 - 52

S. Fulton 13 15 12 20 - 60

Three-point goals - Turkeyfoot 1 (Prince), Southern Fulton 4 (Cain 3, Mellott). Fouled out - Kimmel.

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