NEW MARKET, Ind. – Fountain Central came into the title game of the Southmont sectional having won eight of their last 10 games, but they could not cope with height of their hosts, falling 56-35.
It started well enough for the Mustangs as they took an early lead when Kyla Keeling hit a trey and Samantha Pigg followed with a jumper, but that 5-4 lead would be their last of the game.
They trailed 10-6 after one quarter and only 16-10 midway through the second, but then unforced errors by the Mustangs began to let the Mounties pull away.
By halftime, Southmont led 25-16 and it would get no better as the third quarter started.
Amie Anthrop, the Fountain Central head coach, said her team might have fared better in the contest if they had followed the game plan.
“We had three goals. Take care of the ball, rebound well, especially defensive rebounds and put them under pressure,” she said.
“Instead, we had way too many turnovers, gave them easy transitions baskets and we didn’t box out at all,” she explained.
Southmont had a front line of three players 6 feet or taller against just two Fountain Central starters of 5-10 or more.
Two of the tall Mounties got into foul trouble, but so did the six-foot Macee Williams for the Mustangs.
With Williams out, Southmont made sure that one of their tall players would stay on the 5’10” Maggie Fishero defensively according to Mountie coach Chloe Allen.
“We wanted to take it to their big girls,” she said. “We thought our big girls would then have an advantage over them.”
That is what happened as Williams went to the bench and Fishero was constantly pressured. Fishero led the team in scoring but several of her baskets came on offensive rebound putbacks.
Meanwhile, Cali Wetli, the one tall Mountie who was not in foul trouble began to demand the ball as she was covered by smaller Mustang players.
Her teammates soon realized that Fountain Central could not stop her inside and they began to feed her the ball whenever possible. Wetli ended with a game-high 26 points and, according to Allen, was the difference in the game.
Fountain Central kept the game close in the third quarter, but when the fourth quarter started, the Mounties began to take advantage of Mustang fouls to go to the line.
Unlike Friday night, when the Mounties struggled at the line late in the game with Seeger, they were almost perfect from the line against Fountain Central.
When the game ended, the free throws had propelled the Mounties to the 56-35 win.
Anthrop said she told her girls to remember how they felt after the game and to use that feeling to motivate them to prepare next season so they did not have to feel that way again.
Despite the outcome, Anthrop said the goal all season had been to improve.
“Even tonight, in the locker room after the game, they said they thought they had gotten better,” she said. “We’re looking forward to better things next season.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org