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BY RICK TEVERBAUGH
The Elwood Call-Leader
PENDLETON –– It was a moral victory. And it wasn’t.
The first time the Frankton Lady Eagles played Pendeton Heights, it was November and they got roughed up a bit, losing 60-34.
On Thursday night, in the Madison County Tournament semifinals, it took a last-second shot by PH junior Whitney Warfel for the Arabians to escape with a 42-40 victory. It moved the host school into Saturday night’s championship game against Lapel.
Frankton may or may not play on Saturday in the third place game. Alexandria forfeited Saturday’s other semifinal against the Bulldogs for health reasons. A decision will be made Friday about the status of the consolation game.
The Eagles, it could easily be said, outperformed the larger Arabians in the final three quarters. PH scored the first six points of the second quarter to take a 21-7 advantage. For the rest of the game, Frankton scored 33 points to 21 for Pendleton Heights.
Lauryn Bates hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 39-36. After Kaycie Warfel hit 1-of-2 free throws for the Arabians, It was sophomore Emma Sperry’s turn to zero in from long range. With 1:52 on the clock, PH held a slim 40-39 lead.
A Frankton foul sent PH’s Kylea Lloyd to the free throw line, but the senior made neither of those attempts and the Eagles got the ball. With 51.8 seconds left, the Arabians fouled and Bailee Webb went to the line. She hit the first shot to tie the game, but the second attempt bounced away.
The Arabians’ shot in the paint was no good and Bates grabbed her ninth rebound of the contest.
Frankton kept the ball until the clock ticked under 10 seconds. Cagney Utterback, whose 3-points late in the first half sparked the Eagles, drove toward the basket. But the ball was batted away from behind and PH grabbed the bouncing ball.
The Arabians’ called time out with 5.4 seconds left and had three-quarters of the court to cover to try and win the game. The ball quickly moved into Whitney Warfel’s hands. She looked for an open teammate closer to the basket and found none. So she shot it from inside the arc. It went through the hoop and hit the floor at an almost identical time to the horn ending the game.
PH had a 42-40 victory.
“We had the person shooting it that we wanted,” said Frankton coach Stephan Hamaker. “But give her credit. She made a great shot. She should remember that shot.”
It was a big difference from the first game, even if it was the result the Eagles had sought in 32 minutes of hard play.
“We just got in too big of a hole in that first quarter,” said Hamaker. “We lost by (26) points the first time, so this was gut check time for us. I am really excited about the way we played against them. We are probably never supposed to beat that team, but we had a chance.”
Two things probably kept that chance from becoming a reality more than the late turnover. Poor free throw shooting and offensive rebounds.
The Eagles hit just 3-of-8 from the foul line. “We are a 68 percent free throw shooting team,” said Hamaker.
The Arabians had 12 offensive boards compared to just six for the Eagles. “We had some good stops defensive, but we didn’t finish it by blocking out,” said Hamaker.
Utterback scored 12 points to top the Eagles with Bates right behind with 10. Bates also topped the team with nine rebounds. Kaycie Warfel was the game’s top scorer, notching 15 for PH. Whitney Warfel scored 13 as only five Arabian scored.