Sweet payback: Frontier girls avenge early season loss to River

NEW MATAMORAS – After losing its season opener by 24 points to River back on the 30th of November, the Frontier girls basketball team had Thursday night’s Pioneer Valley Conference rematch circled on its calendars with the idea of revenge on its minds.

The Lady Cougars got just that as Corisa Fickiesen’s three-pointer with 13 seconds to play proved to be the game-winner as Frontier rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Lady Pilots 51-50 in a thriller at Hank Morus Gymnasium.

After River’s Jensen Caretti missed the second half of a one-in-one with 43 seconds to play, the Cougars worked the ball around until freshman Sammi Morris found a wide open Fickiesen who promptly drained the triple from the right of the key to give the Cougars their only lead of the game.

“We talked in our last timeout that we didn’t have to have a three in that situation unless they left us open,” said second-year Frontier head coach Scott Murphy. “We we’re going to take it if we had it and Corissa drained it and we’re very happy for her.”

The upstart Cougars had high hopes heading into the season only to see them temporarily dashed by the Pilots 49-25 in their season opener.

Since then the Lady Cougars have rebounded to win five straight games but none of them as big as the comeback win in front of a big home crowd and loud student section.

It appeared early on that River might repeat the season opening blowout as it jumped out to a 16-6 first-quarter lead paced by nine points from Caretti.

Devyn Potts opened the second quarter for River with a bucket to push the lead to 18-6 but the Cougars came clawing back thanks to a huge second quarter from Kelsea Daugherty.

The Cougar senior scored 12 points in the second period as the Cougars went on a 19-5 run to close the lead to two points with a minute to play in the half.

River got a big three-ball from Gabby Gowdy just before intermission to head to the locker room with a 31-26 lead.

Frontier freshman Lexi Brookover opened the second half with back-to-back field goals to close the lead to 31-30 but River quickly regained the momentum by going on a 13-4 run to send the game to the final period with a double digit lead at 44-34.

Caretti, who scored a game high 23 points for River, opened the fourth quarter with a bucket to make it a 12-point game and after Brookover answered with a field goal, Landyn Ramsay drilled her third trey of the game and River had what appeared to be a commanding 13-point lead with just six minutes to play.

“When I looked up and saw we were down by that much, that late, I thought that this was going to be tough to come back from,” said Fickiesen. “Luckily we were able to come together as a team and do what we had to do to get the job done.”

Fickiesen, who had missed her first two three-point attempts of the game, started the blue and gold on its comeback trail by connecting on a triple with an assist from Jenna Maston to get the lead back down to 10.

Maston followed with a three-pointer of her own to draw the Cougars a little bit closer at 49-42 with 5:11 to play.

Daugherty, who had spent the last half of the third and the first half of the fourth quarter on the bench with four fouls, entered the game with 4:52 to play and promptly scored an inside bucket to cut the lead to five.

While the young Cougars committed just two second-half turnovers, they forced the Pilots into 13 including a steal and basket by Fickiesen to cut the lead to 49-46 with three minutes to play.

Morris had a game-high five assists in the game, including assists on each of the Cougars final four scores.

Her pass set up a mid-range jumper by Brookover with a minute to go cut the lead to a lone point and set up the dramatic finish.

After Fickiesen’s triple the Cougars defense rose to the occasion with two stops in the final 13 seconds to clinch its fifth win of the season in six games.

“That’s the one thing about our girls is they come to play every single night,” said Murphy of the big win. “We had to battle a lot of adversity and just kept battling back. They had to overcome so much and that is a testament to their character.”

Daugherty felt that the crowd and the student section aided the team in a game they felt was a must win for a successful campaign.

“We’ve talked about how bad we wanted to beat River every since we lost that game,” said Daugherty who led Frontier with 17 points and eight rebounds. “We had a special blackout for this game and the crowd was great.”

Brookover chipped in with 16 points and six boards for Frontier while Caretti posted a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with her 23 points.

Ramsay added 16 points for River (4-3).

The Cougars will look to make it six in a row Monday night when they travel to Woodsfield to battle Monroe Central in another PVC battle.