MERCER CO. Sharon battles back to victory
The 45-42 win over Hickory improved the Tigers' record to 15-1.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
HERMITAGE -- The only time it is important to be ahead is at the final buzzer, and Sharon High proved that point to arch-rival Hickory Thursday.
Trailing for much of the game, the Tigers (15-1) scored 12 of the final 14 points to post a come-from-behind 45-42 win in a Mercer County Athletic Conference game.
Here is how the final 21/2 minutes unfolded.
Hickory (11-5) led 40-33 before Sharon cut the deficit to one point on a basket by Morgan Bradley, a free throw by Nicole Valentino and a 3-point goal by Erin Leyde.
Gina Fragle, who scored only two points until late in the game, sank a 3-pointer to give Sharon its first lead since the first quarter, 42-40, with 20 seconds remaining.
Tied: Hickory's Deandra Evans answered with a putback to tie the game at 42 with six seconds to go.
Fragle then got the ball behind the arc, squared up and drew nothing but net for the game-winner with 1.6 seconds remaining.
"I was just hoping it was going to be close," Fragle said.
"I wasn't really expecting it to go in."
Sharon coach Mary Jo Staunch had confidence in her junior guard.
"This is more than I can take, but you know, although I anticipated this type of game, I didn't think it would end up like that," she said. "I knew she [Fragle] was capable of hitting those type of shots, and tonight when they counted, she was able to knock them down."
Disappointed with the loss, Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead was anything but disappointed with her team's effort.
"I guess at the end of the game, it just wasn't in the cards for us," she said.
Factors: For most of the game, Hickory controlled the game with rebounding, getting multiple shots on the offensive end while holding Sharon to just one try.
"I honestly thought one of the keys to winning the game would be controlling the boards, but we were hesitating, not getting good position on the boards," Staunch said.
"We wanted to limit them to one shot and Deandra Evans, just a freshman, did a nice job crashing the boards for us," countered Whitehead.
"We can't hang our heads on this one. Credit Sharon because they stepped up and made some key shots down the stretch."
Staunch gave Hickory credit for dictating the tempo.
"They play a slow-down game and they got us into that type of game," she said.
"We tried to avoid that, the kids knew it was going to happen and we just couldn't get over that hump. When Erin [Leyde] hit that big 3, you could feel the momentum swing our way."
Hickory freshman Chere' Marshall scored a game-high 20 points and Colleen Gottuso added 11.
"I thought she played a solid game from start to finish," said Whitehead of Marshall.
"I was very pleased with her play and it is just unfortunate for us things happened the way they did. We just had some missed opportunities down the stretch that hurt us."
Morgan Bradley scored 12 for Sharon and Julie Bell added 11.