Senior Tessa Stubbs did everything she could late, but a valiant fourth-quarter effort wasn't enough to lift Pinecrest Academy past Fellowship Christian Tuesday night in a 49-41 defeat.
Stubbs had nine points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks—with three of her swats coming in crunch time—despite getting into foul trouble with four for the game. The lone senior, Stubbs shone through in the final eight minutes after the team struggled in the third quarter.
After leading 23-15 going into the break, Pinecrest gave up a 16-0 run, failing to score a single point in the third quarter.
The Lady Paladins looked good early, as sister guards Mary Margaret and Regina Metz looked crisp out of the gate, but had missed shots turn into fast breaks on the other end that gave Fellowship momentum in the third period.
“You know, we're just young,” Pinecrest head coach Ken Lacy said. “We have one senior, one junior, the rest sophomores and freshman. This team last year beat us bad by 24. We just didn't handle being out in front very well. The third quarter was the difference, no doubt.”
Fellowship was led by sophomore sensation Cameron Swartz, who showed off plenty of expert ball-handling skills while totaling 23 points, four steals and a block. Olivia Karam added 13, while guards Megan Hudgens and Sadi Schulz racked up steals and assists.
Mary Margaret Metz had 17 to lead Pinecrest scorers, including a 3-pointer and an 8-of-9 performance at the free throw line, while her sister added 10 points and six steals.
When asked what caused the cool down in the second half, Lacy pointed to youth, but thinks the game was a useful learning experience.
“You know, I think missed shots and patience,” Lacy said. “We're a little banged up, so we've got some younger players on the wing still trying to figure out what passes to make, so we just kind of stalled out.”
Boys Basketball: Fellowship Christian 46, Pinecrest Academy 42
Santi Vallar scored 15 points, including two buckets on aggressive drives late in the game in foul trouble, but the Paladins couldn't make up for a cold third quarter and mount a complete comeback.
Mitchell Keim knocked down four clutch free throws late, and had 22 for the game, to fend off a rally after the Paladins scored just six second half points until the 3:37 mark in the fourth quarter. Pinecrest led 26-21 at halftime after the game was tied, 12-all, at the end of one quarter.
Adam Rocko knocked down a 3-pointer for Pinecrest to make the score 43-40 with 36 seconds left, but Keim's performance at the line prevented a tying effort. Pinecrest's second bucket of the third quarter came at the buzzer, when Matt Howell assisted Zayne Rice for a desperation heave from 40 feet.
Outside of a miraculous shot and Vallar's late efforts, the Paladins offense fizzled in the second half.
“I thought sometimes we were shooting too early, but other times we just missed good lucks,” Pinecrest coach Jay Lynch said. “I think what stuck out is that's how (Fellowship) wants to play. We want to play a little faster, but we ended up playing their game and it worked out well for them.”