MARSHALL — There was no lack of energy, excitement and excellent basketball, but Fountain Central’s girls team had their six-game win streak snapped in a 70-62 WRC loss to Parke Heritage.
It was the highest-scoring game of the season for both teams, but down the stretch, it was the Wolves who came up with a couple more made shots as they win their eighth in row and move to 10-6 on the season with a 5-1 record in the league.
From start to finish, it was tournament-caliber hoops, as both teams took the measure of each other.
The Mustangs, who fall to 11-6 overall and 2-3 in the WRC, owned the old Turkey Run gym for the opening eight minutes, and led 19-11.
Starting their three bigs, the visitors went inside for hoops and dropped a couple treys of their own, but the Wolves got started from then on.
Shooting 64 percent from the floor for the last three quarters, and forcing a bevy of turnovers that turned into a bevy of points, PH took the lead back, and aside from three more ties, never trailed.
The visitors shot the ball well all game also, but couldn’t match the three-point barrage from the Wolves, who were exactly 50 percent from long range in those last three quarters.
“It you had told me before the game that we would score 62 points, I would have felt pretty good,” FC coach Jason Good said. “We played good defense in the first half, and then we got tired. They also knocked down some big three’s.”
The Mustangs were down starter Marley Massey to Covid protocols, and that caused a ripple effect.
“We started all three bigs,” Good said, “which we haven’t done. It also meant one of those three centers had to defend their point guard. It also meant that Dakota Borman had a bigger defensive assignment, which took her from picking up some steals and deflections. We aren’t real deep, so Massey being gone hurt our depth too.”
Borman was the catalyst in the first half, scoring 18 of her game-best 27 points, but the defense shifted on her in the second half and the senior was limited to four shots. Jerzi Hershberger picked up the reins in the second half, scoring 13 of her 15 points, but in the end, it was turnovers that stymied the Mustangs offense, and the Wolves scored after nearly every mistake, as they finished with 27 turnover points on the 17 FC miscues.
“Parke Heritage took advantage of what they were given,” Good noted. “We struggled at times to take care of the ball, we got beat off the dribble, and we got rattled down the stretch. We couldn’t get over the hump, and got beat by a good conference team. They played well.”
The Wolves couldn’t miss on their home floor, as three players finished in double-digit scoring and three more had nine points each.
Coming off the bench, Bethany Wilson hit five of her nine shots, all three’s, and the junior finished with 17 points. Madison Millspaugh was 4-of-5 from the floor and had 13, while Lexi Jones was 4-of-6 and tallied 11.
Starter and season leading scorer Grace Ramsey had nine, as did Courtney Mack and Kristen Wood, both off the bench. The Wolves broke the game open with a 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter after leading 48-44.
For the game, PH was 25-of-45 from the floor, 11-of-23 from long range and 9-of-11 from the line. The Mustangs were 26-of-45 from the field, 6-of-8 from deep and 4-of-7 from the stripe. FC won the rebound battle 23-21.
“Our expectations are so high,” Good said. “We are better than some of the plays we made tonight. We are getting better, but we still need to learn. The lob pass has worked well for us most of the season, but tonight their bigs forced us too deep and the lob went out of bounds. “We made some bad passes, but we made some bad decisions on when to pass. The girls are doing everything I ask, and tonight was one of our better games of the year. We just have to get better in our half-court execution. I’m really proud of the girls. Tonight was a good challenge for us as we get close to the sectionals.”
The Mustangs have two road conference games left, with trips to South Vermillion and Riverton Parke. Wins over both could still get FC into the top half of the league standings.
The Wolves, who honored their three seniors before the game, have two road games remaining as well, at Shakamak and Attica.