FAYETTEVILLE — If things continue at this rate, the Fayetteville-Perry athletic department is going to run out of basketballs.
Standing at the same free-throw line Max Iles stood at earlier in the week when he joined the 1,000 point club, senior Samantha Murphy drained a foul shot for the Lady Rockets, giving her 32 points in the game and 1,000 points in her career.
Murphy would finish the game with 34 points, over half of her team’s total in a 64-39 Lady Rocket win over the Ripley Lady Jays on senior night.
The first quarter was a bit of a struggle for both teams. Fayetteville scored 13 points in the frame, but five of those came in the final 1:11 of the period. Neither team scored until nearly three minutes went off the clock to start the contest, which is not new to Fayetteville head coach Toby Sheets.
“The last three or four games it’s been like that,” Sheets said. “We’re getting 18 to 25 shots in a quarter but we’re only making four or five of them. It’s not uncommon but it’s something I’d like to get rid of.”
However, Fayetteville’s offense picked up in the second quarter, largely thanks to Murphy. She scored 15 points in the quarter while the Lady Rockets’ defense limited the Lady Jays to eight points as a team. Fayetteville took a 32-16 lead into halftime.
Sheets said a combination of home-court advantage and consistent practicing was what allowed the Lady Rockets to shoot the ball better in the second quarter.
“We’ve had four road games in a row,” Sheets said. “We’ve had two practices in the two days previous to this. We were playing Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and really getting inconsistent practicing in. I think a combination of home court and they have 22 games under their belt now. The non-seniors are more aggressive, they’re more comfortable.”
In the third quarter, Taylor Cornett and Murphy each scored three points for Fayetteville, while Kacy Gilkerson added six for the Lady Jays. Both teams scored 11 points in the quarter, allowing Fayetteville to maintain a 16-point lead.
The fourth quarter saw the Lady Rockets awaken once again on offense. The team put up 21 points in the quarter, 11 of which came from Murphy. Cornett added a pair of baskets, giving her 13 points in the game. Ripley managed 12 points, including four apiece from Kursten Prater and Kristen Abbott.
Prater’s 11 points overall led the Lady Jays. Gilkerson added 10 while Abbott chipped in eight. Murphy’s 34 points and Cornett’s 13 were the only totals in double-digits for the Lady Rockets. Senior Meghan Koch, Hannah Weiderhold, Haley Moore and Cecilia Murphy each scored four points for Fayetteville.
While all of Fayetteville’s seniors have played an important role in the team’s success this season, it’s impossible to ignore Samantha Murphy’s contribution to the team in her four years on the court.
“They’ve been great,” Sheets said. “Samantha [Murphy] was the only one with any kind of experience coming in to the year, so I knew pretty much what I could expect from her, though her role is to be more aggressive than ever. She’s been able to handle that, she’s a great leader.”
Sheets then noted Koch’s growth throughout the season, from a player who appeared sparingly at times in prior seasons to a force in the paint for the Lady Rockets.
“She’s went from no experience at all to playing well,” Sheets said. “I’m pretty sure she’s on everybody’s scouting report at this point. She’s played well and done a good job in the middle for us.”
The Lady Rockets’ third senior, Kate Boler, scored a basket as time wound down, giving her two points. The basket was Boler’s 11th made field goal of the season, which prompted loud cheers from the crowd and her teammates.Sheets said Boler’s attitude has won over her teammates, even though she didn’t see the floor much this season.
“Boler’s done a good job,” Sheets said. “She didn’t play last year, but she really bangs in practice which I think helps improve everyone. She never got an attitude or anything like that. She’s had a great attitude through it all. I think you can see [her teammates] like her, they wanted to get her to score here.”
Fayetteville has a few days to prepare for their next game. The squad doesn’t return to the court for over a week, when they travel to Monroe High School to take on Lockland on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m.
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Southern Hills Athletic Conference
Peebles 52, Manchester 43
Lynchburg 71, North Adams 61
Fairfield at Eastern
West Union at Whiteoak
Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference
Goshen 30, New Richmond 20
Norwood 59, Batavia 29
Bethel-Tate at Williamsburg
Western Brown 52, Amelia 30
Blanchester 44, Georgetown 32
Felicity 52, Clermont Northeastern 45