Erica Bowles stole the basketball and looked up at the clock.
Her next reaction was to heave the ball into the air toward the hoop, with hopes that it would glide through the net.
The long 3-pointer that put No. 2 Fairmont Senior (7-1) ahead by double figures fueled the Polar Bears to give No. 3 Sissonville (6-1) its first loss of the season, 76-61, at the Woody Williams Armory Saturday afternoon.
“She's one of those players. I can't say it enough how much Erica gives us that spiritual lift off the bench. She helps take us to another level,” Fairmont Senior head coach Corey Hines said of his freshman guard. “You want somebody like that, somebody like a microwave, that can add some hot things for you offensively.”
The shot accounted for just three of her 13 points off the bench, but it gave Fairmont Senior a 10-point halftime advantage.
That momentum was a game changer for the Polar Bears, said junior guard Emily Stoller.
“It was very important. Erica Bowles knocked down that last-second shot and that was big going into the locker room,” Stoller said of the shot that caused Bowles to raise her hands in triumph as the teams scurried into the locker room for the break.
The shot capped a 10-2 run for Fairmont Senior, which just minutes prior saw Sissonville right on its heels and within two points.
The first half, a very physical one, featured stars on each side of the court, with Stoller knocking down 16 of her 26 points and Sissonville’s Brittany Gould scoring 17 of her game-high 27 in the first two periods
But the second half proved to be different, with Fairmont Senior releasing its depth on the Indians.
Kaden Whaley, who scored the bulk of her 19 points in the second half, Kelsey Morrone (eight points, six rebounds) and Ty Horton (six points) picked up where Stoller left off.
“We have a lot of people that can step up and take anybody's spot easily,” Stoller said. “We have to work for our spot. It's not going to be handed to us.”
Other than the Polar Bears proving that they can score from several spots on the floor, the second half also saw a one-on-one battle at times between Stoller and Gould.
When Sissonville came out of the gate, they drew up a play for Gould that was ran to perfection, resulting in an and-one situation.
Gould smiled in satisfaction as she went to the line.
Stoller, though, wasted no time on the next possession as she drove into the middle of the lane and laid the ball in for an easy two.
Gould responded by knocking down a trey, which Stoller countered with a triple of her own.
By quarter’s end, though, the Polar Bears had pulled away with a 58-44 lead.
Sissonville would never recover.
Like any good point guard, Stoller took the praise she was given and dished it out to several of her teammates.
“I think it was pretty much a team effort. A lot of people scored that really helped us out a lot,” she said. “It's not just what I did out there, I feel it was a team effort.”
Hines agreed, pointing to a number of players on his team that got the job done, praising them for taking down a top team in the state and preparing for the ultimate goal of a state title.
Asked if he thought that his team could see the likes of the Indians come March, Hines answered saying that his team is focused on getting through its Big 10 schedule. Then, he said, they’ll be looking ahead at the postseason.
The coach cited his team’s schedule as proof that they’re all in.
“Luckily, with our schedule, we play a lot of tough teams. I didn't want to have any surprises when I was making the schedule,” Hines said. “Our anticipation was, we wanted to play as many tough teams as possible. We knew we wanted to be ready. You want to make sure you play tough competition leading up to Charleston.”
With Sissonville out of the way, Hines and Fairmont Senior will turn their focus to Elkins as they welcome them in Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Woody Williams Armory.
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.