Fenwick defense stymies Franklin in MUM Holiday girls tourney

Fenwick coach John Rossi, shown during the season opener against Ashville Teays Valley in Reynoldsburg, will direct his Falcons in Friday’s championship game against Valley View in the 38th annual Miami University Middletown Holiday Tournament. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
Fenwick coach John Rossi, shown during the season opener against Ashville Teays Valley in Reynoldsburg, will direct his Falcons in Friday’s championship game against Valley View in the 38th annual Miami University Middletown Holiday Tournament. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

The Fenwick High School girls basketball team held Franklin without a field goal in the third quarter Thursday night, and the Falcons’ stingy defense paid off down the stretch for a shot at a tournament championship.

Fenwick turned a tight game into a seven-point cushion while limiting Franklin to two free throws in the final seconds of the third quarter, and the Falcons held on for a 45-36 win in the opening matchup of the 38th annual Miami University Middletown Holiday Tournament at Bennett Recreation Center.

The Falcons (5-4) face two-time defending champion Valley View (6-2) in the final Friday at 7:45 p.m. The Spartans beat Madison 50-46 in Thursday’s second game.

“I think our defense the whole night was very good,” Fenwick coach John Rossi said. “Obviously, Layne (Ferrell) is a really good player. I have a lot of respect for her and their program, but we just felt like we were going to make the other kids beat us tonight. Defensively, we just did a knock-down job, and the third quarter was huge.”

Ferrell, the Southwestern Buckeye League’s leading scorer, managed just four of her 14 points from the field. Freshman Brooke Stover stepped up with 15 points, but no one else had more than one basket for the Wildcats (2-6).

Falcons center Jenna Adams recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and forward Amanda Michael added eight points and eight rebounds. Kaitlynn Anzel had seven points and seven steals.

Franklin wasn’t done after the third period, though. The Wildcats opened the fourth quarter on a 10-2 run to gain a one-point lead — their first advantage since the second quarter. However, the Falcons responded with 12 straight points over a three-minute span and Franklin couldn’t recover.

“We kept our composure, and that was the most impressive thing tonight,” Rossi said. “In the past, it seems we’ve folded down the stretch, and today our seniors led and our other kids followed and we were able to get the job done. This is just a great team win today, and we’re just super excited to get the chance to play another good team tomorrow.”

The Wildcats were handed some extra opportunities as Fenwick made just 10 of 28 free throws, and they couldn’t take advantage for another rally attempt.

Franklin made just 1 of 18 shots from beyond the arc.

“That’s been an all-year thing,” Wildcats coach Leah Sams said. “We haven’t had a quarter where we’ve been that pressed, but our scoring is down from past years, so we’re working to get other people to score. I had a freshman with 15 (points), but we had a couple with 2, another with 3, and we shot 1-for-18 from 3-point range. We haven’t played in a week and a half, so that could have played into it. But it was not pretty, and that was a game we should not have lost.

“We got some spark off the bench, and we played well (in the fourth quarter). We tried to foul. It just didn’t work out for us.”

In the nightcap, Madison (3-4) was on its way to the final when Valley View turned the tables in the second half. The Spartans used an 11-4 run over the final three minutes of the third quarter to tie it at 33 on Abigail Black’s buzzer-beating layup and took its first lead since the beginning of the game on Hunter Stidham’s 3-pointer early in the final stanza.

Stidham, who has been battling illness, added another trey moments later to put the Spartans ahead for good, but it was Megan Cotterman’s putback off a missed free throw that ended up being the nail in the coffin. That made it 46-41 with 1:06 left, and Madison couldn’t get closer than two while having to foul in the closing seconds.

“That offensive rebound off the free throw was huge,” Madison coach Brian McGuire said. “I thought we controlled almost the whole game until the last few minutes, but it has to be the whole game. They did a great job, but we have to learn to finish the game.

“I thought the game plan was right, but we just couldn’t execute at the time. We’re struggling at times right now, but we will just have to get back to work tomorrow.”

Madison led 20-14 at halftime and built as much as a 10-point lead in the third quarter before Valley View began chipping away.

Black had nine of her 15 points during that period, while Kara Velte dropped in eight of her 14 for the night, and Stidham finished off strong with 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter.

The Mohawks were led by Kelli Bush’s 12 points, while Lillie Runnells and Kenzi Saunders each added eight.

“We had 16 turnovers in the first half and only three in the second,” Valley View coach Steve Dickson said. “We moved the ball better in the second half, and then Hunter started hitting some big shots there in the fourth quarter. She’s been hitting them all year, but you could tell she was feeling a little under the weather and she came through for us when we needed her. We played much better in the second half, and I’m proud of them.”

Franklin and Madison will meet in Friday’s consolation game at 6 p.m.

Franklin 9-11-2-14—36

Fenwick 8-14-7-16—45

FRANKLIN (2-6): Kaylee Harris 1 0 2, Morgan Stidham 1 0 3, Skyler Weir 1 0 2, Layne Ferrell 2 10 14, Brooke Stover 7 1 15. Totals: 12-11-36

FENWICK (5-4): Isabella Arends 1 2 5, Tatum Henry 1 2 4, Hannah Tebbe 2 2 6, Amanda Michael 4 0 8, Kaitlynn Anzel 2 3 7, Jenna Adams 7 1 15. Totals: 17-10-45

3-pointers: FRA 1 (Stidham), FEN 1 (Arends)

Madison 9-11-13-13—46

Valley View 5-9-19-17—50

MADISON (3-4): Jenna O’Hair 1 1 4, Lillie Runnells 3 0 8, Jackie Kovscek 2 0 5, Lily Campbell 3 0 7, Kenzi Saunders 3 2 8, Kelli Bush 4 4 12, Lauren Dietz 1 0 2. Totals: 17-7-46

VALLEY VIEW (6-2): Abigail Black 5 5 15, Aiden Valeni 1 0 2, Kara Velte 7 0 14, Megan Cofferman 3 1 7, Hunter Stidham 4 2 12. Totals: 20-8-50

3-pointers: M 5 (Runnells 2, Kovscek, Campbell, O’Hair), V (Stidham 2)