PITSBURG – It was a crucial game for the Miami East Vikings and Franklin Monroe Jets.
Both teams are at the top of the Cross County Conference and the winner would add a blue chip win to their record as well as close out the year with momentum as the teams head for the home stretch in 2019. The two halves were mirror images of one another as first Miami East scored and played tough defense to build a halftime lead. However, in the second half it was Franklin-Monroe’s time to turn the tables and build a lead that they would carry to the end of the game for a solid 41-33 win against a tough opponent.
It was a shaky start for the Jets – finding themselves down 12-2 late in the opening quarter. They were having problems getting open shots and the Vikings were able to score in transition. Morgan Haney is the leading scoring for Miami East and she scored the bulk of her 14 points in the first quarter. The Jets adjusted and made up some ground in the second quarter. Corina Conley hit shots both in the paint and on the perimeter to get the team back in the game. Stella Shellabarger and Chloe Peters both scored as well to get the margin to within 5 points at halftime, 21-16.
“Corina Conley plays with a lot of heart. What she brings to the team is just phenomenal. She’s a great kid and she deserves a game like this. Her hard work and effort paid off tonight – and those were not easy buckets, she had to fight for them,” FM coach Abbey Moore said.
The second half found the Jets playing stubborn defense, Conley really locked down the post while her teammates sewed up the perimeter. She had several blocks in the game and forced the Vikings to try and score from outside. Offensively they were being closely guarded by the Vikings man-to-man defense, so they began driving to basket – getting points from layups, or going to the charity strip when the Vikings tried to recover and fouled them.
The Jets mainly played a zone-like defense in the half court with extra attention to Haney and holding her to just 3 second half points. But the Jet offense finally woke up. Belle Cable was shutout in the first half, but found her groove and scored 9 points in the second half. Conley, who scored a game high 22 points, also kept the pressure on the Vikings in the second half with her scoring.
“Belle Cable did a great job. I know her legs are tired. She worked on defense and then had to handle the ball on offense, but she was there for us in the second half when we needed her,” Moore said.
The Jets had a 27-23 lead at the end of the third quarter. Despite the Vikings using a half court trap and a full court press in the last quarter, the Jets managed to fend them off and extend their lead down the stretch for the victory. It was Miami East’s first conference loss on the season.
Moore was enthused after the game.
“In the first quarter things did not go the way we wanted defensively, but we stuck to the game plan and it worked the rest of the way. Things turned around in the second quarter where we started making hustle plays. We started scoring and generated some momentum,” she said. “We were able to keep them from gaining any momentum in the third quarter. Going against a team like Miami East is never an easy task. Morgan Haney is an excellent player, but we were able to contain her in the second half. A big focus of ours was not to let her score in transition. She got a lot of points in the first quarter, so I had to take a timeout and remind them of that goal so that we could get focused. But it was a team effort to get this win – I am proud of all of them.”