012420.Bkg-FCLaster Chambers Carter_ly.JPG

Franklin County's Patience Laster, left, knocks the ball away from Elizabethtown's Rickeia Cormier as FCHS' Jazmin Chambers (15) and Nevaeh Carter, right, watch the play during Thursday's game at FCHS. Elizabethtown won 61-59. (Linda Younkin)

With just about 3½ minutes left in the third quarter, it looked as if Elizabethtown’s girls basketball team might run away with the win.

With less than a minute left in the game, it looked as if Franklin County would complete its comeback for the win.

In the end, it was Elizabethtown that came away with the victory, beating the Lady Flyers 61-59 Thursday at FCHS.

“The M.O. with this team is we spend the first half coaching bad habits, and in the second half we coach good habits, or vice versa,” FCHS coach Joey Thacker said.

“We can’t put 32 minutes together, and for a variety of reasons. I don’t know if losing bothers us enough.”

The Lady Panthers (18-2), tied for third with Christian Academy of Louisville in the latest Associated Press poll, led 20-13 after the first quarter and 34-22 at halftime.

“We’ve played a whole bunch of games, and there aren’t many where we’ve only hit one 3-pointer,” Thacker said. “Early misses on free throws and layups when it was nip-and-tuck in the first quarter allowed them to extend the lead out on us.”

E-town was leading by 18 points, 47-29, with 3:25 left in the third quarter, but FCHS closed out the period with a 14-4 run that pulled the Lady Flyers within eight points, 51-43, going into the fourth quarter.

Franklin County kept the momentum going in the final period and had a 9-0 run that tied the game at 56-56 with 3:38 remaining.

FCHS got within one point twice in the final 2:23 and had the ball for the final shot trailing 60-59.

The shot was off the mark, the Lady Panthers got the rebound, and foul put E-town’s Whitney Hay on the line with less than a second remaining.

She went 1-for-2 to make the final score 61-59.

Both teams had three players in double figures. FCHS shot 45% but was 1-for-15 on 3-pointers. The Lady Panthers shot 47.7%.

Nevaeh Carter had a double-double for the Lady Flyers with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

“Nevaeh was spectacular,” Thacker said. “She was absolutely awesome. We need to get the ball in her hands more, and it would counteract what people are trying to do defensively against us.

“Patience (Laster) was in early foul trouble, but she battled and gave us a chance on the boards.”

Laster finished with 14 points, and Brooklynn Miles had 16 points and seven assists.

“I’m proud of the girls for battling back from being down by 18 to having a chance to win the game on the last shot,” Thacker said.

FCHS (15-5) is tied with Mercy for ninth in the state AP poll.

Franklin County’s next game is at Mercy in the Raatz Fence/O’Shea’s Classic Saturday. The Lady Flyers play Pickerington Central (Ohio) at 9:30 p.m.

ELIZABETHTOWN (61) — Kayra Freeman 12, Whitney Hay 21, Olivia Yurcisin 3, Rickeia Cormier 8, Kenzie Franklin 10, Ellie Taylor 7.

FRANKLIN CO. (59) — Nevaeh Carter 22, Brooklynn Miles 16, Jazmin Chambers 1, Jasmine Simpson 3, Patience Laster 14, Jaden Oldham 3.

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