Old Fort rallies to beat Tigers, stay unbeaten

ATTICA – The loaded hot dog at Seneca East High School costs $2.25 and comes complete with taco meat and nacho cheese.

The walking taco is $2.50 and comes served in a Fritos bag with taco meat, lettuce and cheese.

But that wasn’t the only items on Seneca East’s menu Friday night.

Old Fort ordered up a 54-53 come-from-behind victory that was served up by the Tigers’ 11 fourth-quarter turnovers, 2-of-7 shooting from the line and a dollop of Stockader tenacity.

“We lost it,” an exasperated Seneca East coach Dave Stallings said. “We lost focus. They were pressing us at end of the game and we made lazy passes. Everything you have to do you do with a purpose. Every little thing that we did wrong tonight made us lose that game. (My team) didn’t listen and Old Fort didn’t quit.”

Old Fort coach Jenny Miller was exhausted after her team’s crazy comeback.

“It was intense. Both teams played really hard,” Miller said.

Leading 42-39 going into the final quarter, the Tigers (4-4, 0-3 Midland Athletic League) came out firing, going on a 10-0 run to open up a 13-point margin with 5:56 left to go in the game.

“I brought the girls over and I told them, ‘You have five minutes left to show me some guts’ and they rose to the challenge,” Miller said.

Whatever she said worked. Old Fort, who remains undefeated at 7-0, slowly began chipping away at the margin. Eight turnovers later and the Stockaders had clawed their way back to within four, 52-48, with 1:26 to go.

Seneca East final broke the scoreless skid on a Paige Reichert free throw to stretch it to a five-point lead with 1:17 to go, 53-48.

Two more missed opportunities later and Old Fort cut into the lead again, with Jordan Magers making one of two free throws to make it 53-49 with 32.3 to go.

A quick foul on Reichert led to a one-and-one, but she missed on the throw and Old Fort’s Sammy Miller came down with the board. Peyton Miller curled outside the arc and buried a 3-pointer to make it 53-52 game with 19 seconds left.

On the ensuing inbound play, a hustle play by Old Fort saw the ball last hit a Seneca East player and it was Old Fort ball again with 12.8 seconds to go.

Peyton Miller found Sara Bell on the block on the inbound play and the junior banked it off the glass for the go-ahead points, 54-53 with seven seconds to go.

Seneca East called timeout and inbounded to one of its quickest players, Brittany Brookes, who flew up the court and began to penetrate amidst the flailing arms and hands of the Stockaders’ defense. One of those appendages found the ball, knocking it out of bounds. The officials ruled it was Old Fort’s ball but it mattered little because there was just 0.8 seconds left on the clock. The inbound pass ended the game.

“Games like these always prepare you for more close games. They give you more experience with them. They prepare you for tournament atmosphere,” Miller said.

Old Fort had a balanced attack with 15 points from Alli Adelsperger, 12 from Sammy Miller and 10 from Magers. Peyton Miller tossed in eight and Sara Bell added seven in the victory. Adelsperger and Magers each had seven of Old Fort’s 42 rebounds.

It was a lot of rebounds for a team that was badly outsized by Seneca East, but Bell said they try to combat that with some different methods.

“Our main focus is to get bodies on people so we can get over-the-back calls because we know we’re not tall and we can’t out-jump people,” Bell said. “So we like to really emphasize getting bodies on people and out-hustling them and getting rebounds.”

It worked. Seneca East’s best rebounder, Hannah Hahler, found herself in foul trouble throughout the game. In limited action she still snared 10 rebounds.

“It hurts when she’s on the bench,” Stallings said. “Once in a while she’ll find herself out of position but she’s still trying for the rebound and that’s what two or three of her fouls were tonight: over the backs. She just needs to minimize those.”

Seneca East had 51 rebounds, including 16 offensive, with Reichert coming down with 14 of them. Brookes led all scorers with 16 points and five steals. Seina Adachi had 11 points and six steals. Kristen Camp had 12 points for the Tigers.