BY GREG FLINT
VEEDERSBURG, Ind. —
The girls’ basketball game between the home standing Fountain Central Mustangs and the Seeger Patriots started as if neither team wanted to win the contest.
By the time the fourth quarter arrived, it was just the opposite, as both teams seemed desperately to want the win.
In the end, Seeger prevailed 42-36, but only after a battle that saw them fend off a frenzied comeback from their hosts.
The game opened with both teams missing what looked like open shots with the rebound going to their opponent.
The squads ran up and down the floor to no avail until Miranda Synesael of the Patriots hit a jumper after grabbing an offensive rebound at the 4:36 mark.
Kiley Swisher added another basket for Seeger before Mackenzie Hurd made a shot at the 3:58 mark to open the scoring for Fountain Central.
She also closed the Mustang scoring for the quarter with that basket as the Patriot defense, which earlier in the season had held a team scoreless for a half, shut down the hosts while scoring 10 points on the other end of the floor.
It got a little better for Fountain Central in the second quarter, as they managed to score seven more points, but Seeger countered with 11 to extend their lead to a dozen at 21-9.
“We made way too many mistakes in the first half,” said Fountain Central head coach Amie Newhart. “We didn’t calm down and play our game until the second half.”
Both teams may have struggled to score in the first half, but they were certainly adept at picking up fouls. Each team saw one of their key players get into foul trouble in the first half with repercussions playing out late in the second.
The third quarter started with what appeared to be a different Mustang team on the court. The players had been passive, making poor passes and missing shots in the first half, but all that changed in the second as well.
The first indication of a change was Mary Frazee attacking the basket on the first Fountain Central possession, scoring on a lay-up.
Kristen Irvine countered for Seeger and suddenly it was “game on.”
Tayler Louthen hit a jumper and Hurd added a free throw to cut the Mustang deficit to under double digits.
Irvine again came to the fore as she hit a free throw and then got the Patriots their largest lead of the night at 13 on an old-fashioned 3-point play.
Hurd closed out the quarter with two free throws to make it 27-16 going into the final period.
Hannah Gustus of Seeger, a freshman who played an excellent defensive game, hit the first basket of the quarter, but Frazee came right back about 10 seconds later for the Mustangs.
Louthen hit a trey for the visitors to cut the margin to eight, but Morgan Rademacher answered with a jumper for the Patriots off a pass from Synesael.
That would be the last play for Synesael, as she would foul out moments later – something that seemed to open the middle for Fountain Central.
The Mustangs went to work getting the ball to Linley Smith who now was only double-teamed, instead of the usual triple-teamed, in the paint.
Smith scored, Frazee hit a free throw and Samantha Pigg hit a trey with the only response from Seeger being a lay-up from Taylor Griswold.
That cut the margin to seven with 2:24 to go. Smith picked up her fifth foul, but the Mustangs continued to attack — this time primarily from the outside.
They cut the margin to three, 37-34, after a trey from Louthen and two free throws from Morgan Grubb.
Seeger struggled from the line, shooting only 11-of-23 on the night, but they made enough late in the game to keep Fountain Central from catching up.
“We outscored them by six in the second half,” said Newhart. “If we don’t have such a poor first half, we might have won.”
The two teams open their sectional action on Tuesday of next week and if each wins, they could face each other again on Friday.
“We throw out the records now,” said Newhart about playing Seeger again. “We’re all zero and zero and we’re looking forward playing some more.”