FROSTBURG — All season long the Southern Rams and the Mountain Ridge Miners have separated themselves from the rest of the area’s competition. After walking into Frostburg calm and collective and staring down the No. 2 Miners over the final eight minutes, the top-ranked Rams not only left with a 55-45 win, but may have also separated themselves into a class all of their own.
Trailing 34-33 entering the fourth quarter, Southern didn’t falter, but only seemed to get stronger as time eroded. For the Miners, it was just the opposite as things seemed to snowball out of control for them down the stretch. The Rams saved their best ball for the end, scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter after tallying 33 through the first three.
Southern keeps a perfect season in the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference alive by improving to 9-0. It is 12-1 overall and haven’t lost to any area team. Its only loss was to John Carroll in the Southern Snowflake Classic. The Rams are at home on Tuesday when they play foruth-ranked Keyser.
“This was a statement game for us,” said Southern Head Coach Dan Bosley. “We beat them earlier, but that was at home. This was No. 1 coming into No. 2’s house and leaving with a win. That says a lot about the type of team we’ve become over the course of the season.”
After scoring only one point in the first half, Mandy Sweitzer scored seven more during the final period that helped the Rams hold onto the lead once they got it. Illustrating the movement in opposite directions for schools, Mountain Ridge’s Shae Winner was almost unstoppable in the first half, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds, before being limited to one point and one rebound in the second half. Southern’s Raeslee Weimer was also a giant in the second half, scoring all 10 of her points over the final two quarters.
It took the Rams 40 seconds into the fourth quarter before they took their first lead, but they never gave it back. It took the Miners 4:35 into the fourth before they scored their fourth point of the quarter and it would take another two minutes before they scored another two. By that time, Southern was leading 47-40.
“Our first option is to try to look inside,” said Bosley. “And while I was upset that we took a couple shots too quickly, we have some weapons from the outside that teams need to respect. We weren’t hitting those shots early, but when we did it opened everything up for us.”
Mountain Ridge’s Valery Broadwater echoed that sentiment.
“We usually start out in a press like we did tonight and we did a good job taking away shots from them. Our plan was to take away the inside from Alicia Roth after she had a big game against us last time out, and it worked at the beginning. Then it seemed like we were a step slow getting out to cover their shooters and they started making them. When they started making those shots we had to spread out and it hurt us on rebounding.
“You can’t let a team as good as Southern get two or three tries each time down or you’ll won’t be able to beat them,” she said.
That’s the way the Rams played most of the evening, even when things weren’t going right for them.
“We know we have a good team,” Bosley said. “So we don’t panic when things don’t go our way right off the bat. We’ve got three senior starters and four seniors on the team that lead us. They know that if they play the way they can that they have a chance to win every night out.”
After jamming the middle to keep Roth quiet in the first half, the junior added eight more points in the second for a Southern-high 14 points. Kambrie Bosley helped stretch out the Mountain Ridge defense by finishing with 12 points, including three three-pointers. Freshman Lauren Francillon scored six points and had five rebounds, and was a key in slowing down Mountain Ridge’s Winner in the second half.
Mountain Ridge got an outstanding individual performance from Sarah Raines, who finished with a game-high 15 points and added eight rebounds from her point guard position. She had six of those rebounds as Mountain Ridge controlled the first half.
“Sarah’s a very active point guard and usually gets a lot of rebounds for that position,” Broadwater said. “She is very aggressiveand worksgreat with how we run out offense.”
Both of Mountain Ridge’s losses have been to Southern. The Miners (10-2, 7-2 AMAC) play Petersburg at home on Friday.
Chris is a sportswriter for the Times-News. Contact him at email@example.com.