ATTICA — A strong second-half defense and a strong game defense propelled Fountain Central’s girls basketball team to a first-round win in the 1A sectionals with a 40-32 win over North Vermillion.
Falling behind 9-0 to start the game, the Mustangs outscored the Falcons 24-13 in the second hall to run their season record to 11-12, but much more importantly, to 1-0 in the postseason.
That win moves them into the semifinals Friday against Rossville.
“We played so hard tonight,” FC coach Sam Karr said. “We got to loose balls, we played our 1-3-1 defense to perfection and we never gave up. That was the difference in the game.”
The defense kept the Falcons, who finish their season at 9-15, off the scoreboard for the first half of the fourth quarter. Leading 26-25 tort the final period, the Mustangs put up a 10-spot to five themselves all the room they needed.
They played some keepaway from there and hit enough free throws to secure the win, their second of the season over the Falcons.
“We did so many of the things exactly the way we worked on them in practice,” Karr said. “These girls are so coachable, and you will never see a lack of effort from them. They were talking on defense, scrapping and clawing for loose balls. We traded some offense for defense, and that really worked for us.”
Leading the way for the Mustangs was Hannah Prickett 14 points, three above her team-leading season average. The sophomore also picked three steals and dished out a pair of assists.
Katie Brown was also in double figures with 10 points. Brailey Hoagland added eight points, seven steals and a pair of assists. Kacey Kirkpatrick also had eight points, a team-best nine rebounds and added a steal, an assist and a blocked shot before fouling out.
“Hoagland has a heart this big,” Karr said with his hands very far apart. “She guards so hard. She is a beast defensively.”
The Mustangs were 14-of-40 from the field, 5-of-20 from long range and 7-of-13 from the stripe. They lost the rebound battle 35-26, but won the turnover war with only a dozen while forcing 16. They also turned those NV turnovers into 11 points.
“Our defense caused North Vermillion a lot of problems,” Karr said. “We made them pass over that zone, and then we trapped in the corners. Like I said, we played it to near perfection.”
The Falcons were led at the end of both the first and second quarters, were led in scoring by Callie Naylor. The senior finished her NV career with nine points. Lauren Ellis had eight points and a team-best 10 rebounds.
Overall, they were 13-of-38 from the floor, 1-of-8 from deep and 5-of-11 from the line.
“We had to keep them in the 30’s,” Karr said. “It really was pretty simple, but not so simple to accomplish. Again, it is the hard work ethic of these girls. They just have a will to win, and we will sure show up Friday night and give it our best shot. We live for another day.”
The Mustangs defeated Rossville in the regular season, and they play in the second game Friday at Attica. The first game is Faith Christian, who won their 20th game of the season with 65-56 overtime win over Clinton Central, and a four-freshman starting lineup, against Attica