KEYSER, W.Va. — It may have taken a while to set in, but Frankfort head coach Mike Miller eventually got his message across.
After a possession when Keyser took four shots, grabbed four offensive rebounds and ended it with an Averi Everline baseline jumper, Miller didn’t mince words. “Have some heart,” he shouted.
Serendipitously, as Frankfort clutched to a one-point lead with less than 15 seconds remaining, Marié Perdew bullied a gaggle of Golden Tornado rebounders after an empty trip to the line.
The junior grabbed the offensive board and put back the dagger, and Keyser missed the game-tying three on the other end, as Frankfort held off the Golden Tornado, 50-47.
“Sometimes you’ve got to come out of your comfort zone, scream and holler a little bit just to light a fire,” Miller said. “Hats off to (Keyser) for the guts that they showed. They didn’t quit, they didn’t give up.
“We made our foul shots, and if it wasn’t for that, we’d be looking at the other end of it.”
Though Perdew’s hustle play sealed the deal, Frankfort’s acumen from the charity stripe, and Keyser’s lack thereof, decided the outcome.
The Golden Tornado were a paltry 14 for 30 at the line, while Perdew was 14 for 17 by herself. That, combined with a bevy of missed point-blank tries, will keep Keyser up at night.
“Coming into it, we always talk about lay-ups, free-throws, lay-ups, free-throws. And early, lay-ups weren’t there,” Golden Tornado head coach Josh Blowe said. “We’re hitting the bottom of the backboard four times and you miss 17 or 18 free-throws, you lose by three.
“That’s definitely where it starts. It’s correctable, that’s the good thing.”
To further flummox Blowe, Keyser has the skill.
In a recent charity free-throw day, all 11 Golden Tornado players made at least 70 of 100 attempts, all but a few made 80 and one made 99.
Miller agreed the Falcons were fortunate to survive.
“The way the game was being called, everybody was in the quadruple bonus,” he said. “We knew it was going to come down to that. And that’s what won us the game and lost it for them.”
Still, Frankfort never fully capitalized on the Keyser miscues.
The Falcons led 20-12 at the half, a margin that could’ve been far closer or even in the Golden Tornado’s favor if they made open looks.
Frankfort looked like it was going to pull away after Perdew, who tallied 27 points, scored an uncontested lay-up off a baseline inbounds pass to put the Falcons up 33-20 late in the third quarter.
Halley Smith was second on Frankfort with 13 points, as she and Perdew combined for 80% of the team’s scoring.
But Everline struck fire off the bench, drilling a three, a transition two and a pull-up midrange jumper to pull the Golden Tornado within 34-27 going into the fourth. She scored a team-high 19.
Keyser continued to chip away, trimming the margin to 46-45 after Rebekah Biser scored off an inbounds pass and Alexa Shoemaker buried a three from the top of the key with 30.3 seconds left.
Biser finished with 10 points and Kaili Crowl scored eight for the Golden Tornado.
However, Frankfort did just enough down the stretch, and Perdew came up big in the clutch to lead the Falcons to victory in the Mineral County matchup once again.
“She did what she had to do, did all the dirty work and got to the foul line, made her foul shots,” Miller said. “Huge rebound and put-back at the end, and that’s what won it for us.”
In the JV game, Keyser won 46-40. The Golden Tornado were topped by Alyvia Idleman, who had 11 points. Frankfort’s high scorer was Madie Ruble with 10.
Frankfort (4-1) hosts Spring Mills today, 6 p.m. Both teams hit the road on Monday, 7:30 p.m., with the Falcons traveling to North Marion and Keyser (3-2) facing Hampshire.