LAKEWOOD - Fredonia girls basketball (5-0) opened an early Christmas present Monday afternoon after posting a spirited 46-44 comeback win on the road against West I Division opponent Southwestern (2-2).
The Lady Trojans looked to have victory in hand against the undefeated Lady Hillbillies as they built up an 11-point lead in the third quarter, but Fredonia's Hannah Cybart had other plans.
The freshman guard played more like a senior with the game on the line, converting on two straight 3-point plays to cap off a late push by Fredonia.
Photo by Jay Young
Fredonia's Hannah Cybart advances the ball during the final minutes during a CCAA Division I West girls high school basketball game on Monday at Southwestern.
On consecutive possessions, Cybart laid in difficult baskets in the paint while being fouled, sinking free throws on both plays. She recorded 12 points in the victory along with four boards.
"Every league game that we play this year is important, but especially this one,"mentioned Fredonia coach Carol Zirkle. "Southwestern crushed us in the playoffs last year, so this was a big game for us."
In the first half, the Lady Trojans got off to a hot start on offense with buckets from Alex Sullivan and Emily Wuebbolt. The pair would carry Southwestern during much of the night, each scoring 15 points.
Wuebbolt helped the Lady Trojans jump out to a hot start in the early minutes, and finished the evening with a double-double which included 15 boards as well.
Morgan Genovese kept the match close throughout, recording 16 points on eight shots.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the opening quarter, but settled down with inside shooting.
A swift drive to the rack by Wuebbolt ended the first quarter in Southwestern's favor, 8-6.
Moving on to the second, the Lady Trojans were catalyzed by two more buckets from Sullivan, while Fredonia struggled to match up defensively.
Kara Schutte notched her first bucket of the game on a putback deuce with a minute to go before halftime, stretching the Lady Trojans lead to 23-16.
As the buzzer sounded to start the third quarter, the Lady Hillbillies did not have the hot start they needed.
Sullivan nailed two more jumpers inside and put the Lady Trojans up by 11, but the flood of scoring would stop there.
Three minutes into the penultimate quarter, Zirkle was finally able to motivate her team to step it up on defense.
A timely steal by Sarah Cruver swung the momentum in favor of Fredonia, and a pair of baskets by Genovese in the following minutes evened the tilt at 31 with one quarter to play.
As the Lady Hillbillies picked up momentum, Wuebbolt stepped up to the plate on defense to try motivate her team.
The 5-foot-11 forward swatted a soft lay in by Genovese and then tossed a quick pass inside to Schutte for two that helped Southwestern regain their margin.
Unfortunately for the Lady Trojans, Wuebbolt recorded her fifth foul shortly after, leaving her team vulnerable inside.
"Yeah, she fouled out, and that hurt us," Southwestern coach Anne Beck said.
The loss indeed proved costly in the closing minutes.
A long two-pointer by Genovese left Fredonia trailing by five points with four to play, and laid the path for Cybart's heroics.
The first of her 3-point conversions put the Lady Hillbillies up by a point, while the second gave them their first lead of the night.
"To be able to come in and make that comeback was important," Zirkle said."Hannah came in and made the same awesome play twice in a row. For a freshman to step up in the fourth quarter was huge for our season."
Southwestern had a chance to even the game on an inbounds play with one second remaining, but was unable to get a clear shot.
"We shouldn't have been in that position at the end," Beck said. "The girls always go out and give one hundred percent, but even they said that (Fredonia) wanted it more."