By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
PLEASANT VALLEY —
After his team defeated Lewis County 64-53, East Fairmont girls’ basketball coach James Beckman summed up the victory pretty concisely.
“Free throw shooting,” he said. “That’s what won the ball game for us at the end.”
He wasn’t lying.
The Lady Bees were leading Lewis County by just four points, 56-52, with two minutes remaining in the game. But with each trip to the free throw line, that lead continued to build until the game was well in hand.
In total East Fairmont (6-6) knocked down 22 of 28 from the line in the second half. The success from the penalty stripe is something the Bees take great pride in.
Each day Beckman gives his team a goal. They must shoot a set number of free throw, usually around 80, before practice is over.
“We work on free throw shooting every day,” Beckman said. “In those crunch times, you’ve got to be able to step up to the line and knock down that free throw.”
Brooklynn Weaver, one of three Bees in double figures, scored nine of her 13 points from the free throw line. Mikayla Moore and Felicity VanGilder also dropped 13 points a piece to pace the Bees.
East Fairmont needed every one of those foul shots, especially after a slow start. Playing for the first time since Jan. 18, the Bees turned the ball over a handful of times and were held scoreless over the first two minutes.
“We’ve been off for a while, but that’s not an excuse,” said Bailey Frederick, who finished with nine points. “I was definitely jumpy at the start.”
Beckman put it more bluntly.
“We were flat as could be,” he said. “It just goes to show what happens with the long layover that we had.”
After a timeout, the Bees picked up the pace and chipped away at the lead. By the second quarter, they cut Lewis County’s advantage to single digits.
Then in the closing seconds of the half Moore hit two 3-pointers, including one with just seconds on the clock, to send the Bees into the locker room with their first lead of the game, 22-20.
“It was huge,” Beckman said of the timely 3-pointer. “She’s capable of doing it. We expect that from her.”
After grabbing the halftime lead, the Bees never gave it back. They opened the second half with a 7-0 to stretch the lead to double digits.
But Lewis County made a run of its own in the fourth quarter to force East Fairmont to make its foul shots.
“I always tell these girls it’s a game of runs,” Beckman said. “You’ve got to survive those runs.”
The Bees are back in action Thursday against cross-town rival Fairmont Senior at the Woody Williams Armory— that is, if the weather cooperates. In the first game this season between the two teams, Fairmont Senior picked up a decisive victory over the Bees.
Beckman said he’s eager to see how his team has progressed since the first meeting.
“I want to see how far we’ve come since that Dec. 10 game when we got blown out,” he said. “Let’s see how far we’ve come in a month and a half.”
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.