Amber McFeely drained two 3-pointers to give the Eagles the winning margin.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
HERMITAGE -- Grove City High girls basketball coach Roger Flynn felt his club was going to be in a tough game against Hickory.
He was right on target.
The Eagles were pushed to the limit before escaping with a 62-56 victory Monday in a Mercer County Athletic Conference game.
"I was expecting nothing other than a great game from them with a down-to-the-wire finish, and that is what we got," said Flynn.
Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead hopes her young team can turn the corner and come away with a win.
"I just said to the kids in the locker room, 'Hey, we're coming' and eventually I believe that we are going to be there," Whitehead said.
"We are taking some lumps right now, but with only one senior along with two freshmen and two sophomores on the floor, we're coming," Whitehead said.
Back and forth: Neither team could establish a comfortable lead.
In the first half, there were six ties and eight lead changes before Grove City (16-3, 2-0) took a 38-36 lead at the break. There were eight more lead changes and three ties in the second half -- the last coming at 52-all with four minutes remaining.
Grove City point guard Amber McFeely drained two straight 3-pointers to give the Eagles a 58-52 lead with 2:22 to go and matched Hickory point-for-point until finally pulling away.
"All the coaches know what I mean when I say she hit one of those 'Oh no!' 3-pointers," said Flynn. "When she let the second one go, I didn't think it was the right shot to take at that time, but when it goes in, it is easy to congratulate her."
McFeely finished with 11 points for the Eagles, while Chelsea Smith led all scorers with 25.
Chere' Marshall led Hickory (11-6, 0-2) with 18 points. Cathy Powell scored 13 and Colleen Gottuso added a dozen.
Being victimized by 3-pointers is nothing new for Whitehead. Sharon's Gina Fragle did the same thing four days earlier in the final 20 seconds of a three-point Hickory loss.
"It was kind of deja vu for me for a minute when she hit those two shots," Whitehead said. "It wasn't the clutch situation as it was the other night, but it was a turning point that made a big difference."
Flynn felt his Eagles were never able to put the Hornets away.
"We knew they could penetrate and they have so many 3-point shooters," Flynn said. "With their ability to score, it was only a two-possession game, they were right in it until the end."