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Girls B-Ball Nailbiter!

posted Jan 9, 2020, 8:00 AM by Christine Guerette
High school girls basketball

Sweet first win: Faulkingham's buzzer-beater lifts Belfast over rival Mount View

Despite Coolen's 30 points for Mustangs, Lions make comeback to defeat Waldo County neighbor
By Zack Miller | Jan 08, 2020

BELFAST — For a split second the Belfast Area High School gymnasium fell silent.

All eyes were on the rim in front of the stage, as the basketball went up, bounced once, then twice, and as if someone had puffed air on the ball, it fell through the cylinder, and the silence turned to a deafening roar.

Lion senior Kayci Faulkingham was immediately mobbed by teammates, as her offensive putback delivered a come-from-behind, 51-50 high school girls hoop victory over Waldo County rival Mount View on Tuesday night, Jan. 7 for the Lions' first victory of the season.

"It was really nerve-racking," said Faulkingham. "We didn't know who was going to get the offensive rebound, and I was wide open underneath the hoop, and it just happened to go in."

Faulkingham finished with eight points, but none of her baskets were more important than the final one.

"We played really well in the last game, and had a couple of other games where we've played well," said Lion coach Scott Benzie. "It's just a matter of trying to get these guys over the hill, and they did that tonight, and we finally got a ball to drop at the end, which really helped things and their spirits."

"We played hard and as a team," said Faulkingham. "We knew going in it was going to be a rough game and it could go either way, but we pulled it off."

"The girls played hard," said Mustang coach Mark Cooper. "The game went back and forth and the ball didn't quite bounce our way. We are making progress. We are very young. No seniors and no junior varsity team.  [We have] four freshmen see significant playing time [with] two starters, [and only] two juniors."

Mount View led 12-9 at the end of the first quarter, the game was tied 22-22 at halftime and the Mustangs held a 37-36 advantage at the end of the third quarter.

Mount View's Hannah Coolen had one of the finest games of her young career, as the sophomore poured in 30 points, while Syd Vogel and Sophia King tallied six; Maddie Roux and Kiarra Munro, three; and Kricket Thompson, two.

Vogel led Mount View with two 3-pointers, while Munro and Roux hit one.

To go along with Faulkingham's eight points, Grace Fitzjurls led the Lions with 17, while Lillie Mitchell tallied 16; Kiara Doolan, eight; and Halle Tripp, three.

Fitzjurls buried a game-high four treys, while Mitchell made two and Tripp one.

Belfast finished 9-of-14 (64 percent) from the foul line, while Mount View was 5-of-8 (62 percent).

From the opening tip, the contest looked as though it would be decided late in the game, as neither team gained a distinct advantage in the first half.

The start of the second half saw the visitors reach out and take hold, as the Mustangs used a 9-0 run to jump ahead.

Seventeen seconds in Roux hit an open three from the wing in front of the Mustang bench to put Mount View on top. Coolen then drove the left side of the lane and made a layup to push the lead to five.

On the Mustangs' next possession, Coolen drove the baseline and got another layup to fall, with the help of two favorable bounces on the rim, as the Lions called a timeout to stop the bleeding.

"We had to execute some stuff [better]," said Benzie. "We weren't getting the ball to the people that could shoot [for us]. We let Coolen, who is a good player, go to her right, and we needed to force her to go left as much as we could."

Out of the timeout Belfast missed a jumper, as Coolen corralled the rebound, ran down the court, and drove the baseline to her right — the direction Benzie was trying to stop her from going — and got an easy shot to fall to cap the run.

Belfast scored on their next possession, as Mitchell hit a 3-pointer, to bring the Lions to within six.

The hosts kept the game within five to six points until late in the fourth quarter, when the Mustangs got into foul trouble, which allowed the Lions to hit free throws to pull within four with under 20 seconds to play.

Off an inbounds, Fitzjurls swished a trey with 17.1 seconds to play to make the score 50-49.

On the ensuing Mount View possession the Mustangs' pass went out of bounds, which gave the ball back to Belfast with fewer than 10 seconds to play.

Fitzjurls got off a shot along the baseline, which was too strong, but the ball was batted up in the air, hit the bottom of the back board and ricocheted to Faulkingham, who laid it in as the buzzer sounded.

"I really like my team," said Cooper. "They work very hard no matter the score. [We take it] one game at a time, one skill at a time, one step at a time, one stop at a time. Getting better every day is our goal. We are working on our confidence and dealing with adversity on the court. We are going to make mistakes, but as we learn from them and mature, we will be more competitive."

"I told them [after the game] the job isn't done," said Benzie of his team's first victory. "You have to win and take the next step, and they all looked at me and said 'What's that?' and I said the playoffs. You have to start thinking about playoffs. How are you going to get there? You have to win."

In the Maine Principals' Association Heal Point Standings for Class B North, Mount View (1-8, 2.3457 points) is 14th and Belfast (1-7, 1.1728 points) 16th. Hermon (9-0, 40.9877 points) is first in the 17-team region. The top 12 teams qualify for the playoffs.