By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Megan Haller flew head-first into the wall under the basket at North Marion High School, her ponytail connecting with the last inch of padding above the hard concrete brick.
It was the kind of shot that makes football coaches turn away and wince. But rather than stay down, Haller picked herself up to an audible sigh of relief from the crowd, dusted herself off and sunk two free throws.
Prior to the tumble, she had scored just four points. Over the final two quarters she made 12 for a team-leading 16 points on the evening.
The performance helped lead the Huskies to a 71-33 victory over rival East Fairmont.
“The intensity picked up and it shook me back into my rhythm,” the 5-foot-6 sophomore said after the game. “I decided that things needed to start going up from there.”
Throughout the first half, it was the rest of Haller’s teammates who needed to be shaken back into a rhythm.
The Huskies (3-1) took a day off from practice Monday. Coach Mike Parrish said the team showed some rust in the opening quarter when it battled to a 12-12 tie with the Bees (2-3).
“When you don’t do anything for a few days and you come out and try to play, your timing is off,” he said. “I told them we couldn’t catch it. We couldn’t pass it. We couldn’t shoot it. We couldn’t dribble it that first half.”
The Bees took advantage. Bees guard Bailey Frederick scored five of her 11 points and Felicity VanGilder had four of her 13 in the opening quarter, as East Fairmont made quick reads and open shots.
“We had great momentum going in that first quarter,” first-year East Fairmont coach James Beckman said. “We were looking to score. We were making the right reads. We were being aggressive offensively. We were doing what we were supposed to do.”
In the second quarter, the Huskies ramped up the intensity on defense. Their full-court press held the Bees scoreless until the final minute of the quarter, as North Marion took a 27-14 lead into the half.
One of the few who had a strong showing in the opening two quarters for North Marion was Cara Egress. She came off the bench to put up eight of her 12 points in the first
half. It provided a much-needed shot in the arm to a stagnant Huskies’ offense.
“I would get nervous if I actually did start,” the sophomore said. “Coming off the bench I feel fresh, and it makes the nerves easier.”
Her teammates followed suit in the second half. After a very brief message from Parrish at the half, North Marion took control. The Huskies held East Fairmont scoreless over the first four minutes of the third quarter, as they stretched their lead and eventually pulled away.
Noca Singleton had six of her eight in the second half, and Presley Tuttle added five of her nine in the final 16 minutes to help the Huskies put the game away.
“It’s always to get an in-county win,” Parrish said. “It’s a county game. It’s a section game. It’s good to get as many of these wins as you can.”
North Marion will go on the road against Wheeling Park on Saturday. East Fairmont, meanwhile, has a layoff until Jan. 2 when it will host Liberty (Harrison).
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.