The fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 41st District tournament game between the girls basketball teams of Frankfort High and Woodford County saw the Lady Panthers outscore the Lady Yellowjackets 20-8.
But after scoring just four points in the third, FHS couldn’t complete the comeback and fell 49-44 after three clutch free throws from WCHS pushed the game out of reach in the final seconds.
FHS finished the season 20-5.
After beating the Lady Yellowjackets twice during the regular season, the Lady Panthers probably heard the old “it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season” line ad nauseam in the days leading up to Wednesday’s game.
FHS coach Deron Norman said his team didn’t buy into the superstition.
“All the talk of beating someone three times means nothing,” he said. “We just didn’t get into our stuff and finish like we’ve done all year long.”
The Lady Panthers struggled from the outset, getting behind 7-2 two minutes into the first quarter and finishing the period down 13-7.
FHS continued to struggle in the second quarter, falling behind 22-11 with 5:24 remaining before outscoring WCHS 9-8 the rest of the way to trail just 30-20 at halftime.
The third quarter saw the Lady Panthers hit rock bottom, scoring just four points – all on free throws – while allowing the Lady Yellowjackets to score 11 and grab a 41-24 lead headed into the fourth.
FHS suffered from turnovers and a multitude of missed layups in the first three quarters.
“We just didn’t hit shots,” Norman said of the third quarter drought. “We didn’t finish on our presses and on our steals in the first three quarters. We’d turn them over and not get anything out of it.”
Despite the lackluster quarter, Norman knew his team would get rolling in the final eight minutes.
“I knew sooner or later the floodgates would open and we’d get to the hole,” he said.
Norman said he was especially proud of his team’s resilience when facing a 17-point deficit.
“Down 20 or so, there are a lot of teams that would fold and go in the hole,” he said. “I knew our girls wouldn’t. We just couldn’t get the shot there at the end.”
The Lady Panthers hit plenty of shots before the final minute, however, as Sheree Brown, Jasmine Washington, Cori Cunningham and Brianna Burbridge all contributed on the offensive end.
It was Shanae Brown who closed the gap to two points when she knocked down a field goal and then drained a 3-pointer eight seconds later to make it 46-44 with 20 seconds remaining.
FHS had chances to tie but couldn’t convert and was forced to foul, sending Shelby McDonald and Caitlin Ferguson to the line on two separate possessions.
The two Lady Yellowjackets converted 3-of-4 freebies to go up 49-44 with less than a second remaining.
Although FHS couldn’t seal the deal, Norman said he was also proud of his team for fighting back despite losing Shauntae Brown to an injury in the second half.
“For a girl to go down and for us to give up – we just don’t do that,” he said. “I told them we’re capable of going off with a 20-point quarter. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”
Norman said the fact that the Lady Panthers actually did go off for 20 points in the fourth is a testament to the team’s bright future.
“This is a credit to my team and shows them what this program will be like in the future,” he said.
WOODFORD COUNTY (49) – Catie Fletcher 16, Shelby McDonald 12, Chelsey Ford 10, Jessica Morgan 7, Anastayzia Reed 3, Caitlin Ferguson 1.
FRANKFORT HIGH (44) – Sheree Brown 10, Jasmine Washington 8, Brianna Burbridge 8, Kiana Russell 7, Shanae Brown 5, Raven Robinson 2, Shauntae Brown 2, Cori Cunningham 2.