PETERSBURG, W.Va. — Even as Petersburg led Frankfort by 11 with three minutes left Thursday, there was an unspoken premonition of a late Falcons push.
Frankfort has had the Vikings' number, beating the sectional rivals 15-straight times dating back to 2015. History proved to be just that — history. Jenna Burgess swished a 3-pointer from the right corner, Kennedy Kaposy scored at the rim and Frankfort gave the ball right back.
The lead was insurmountable, and the home crowd erupted in a gleeful cacophony. Petersburg finally overcame Frankfort, 69-60.
"I think we had a higher level of focus," Petersburg head coach Jon Webster said. "I think we played a little more comfortably because we're here at home, that helps a little bit. I just felt like we were a little more prepared for what we were going to see.
"Down at Frankfort, I thought we played hard enough to win, we just didn't execute. Tonight, we kept that same level of intensity, and we had a little more mental focus and we executed better. I think that was the difference."
The Falcons (10-2) came in riding a nine-game winning streak. One of those triumphs was a 55-53 victory over Petersburg (8-1) in Short Gap, the closest the Vikings had been to beating Frankfort since winning 55-54 in January of 2015.
The two squads also met in the sectional finals last season, with Frankfort taking the defensive slugfest 44-38. With a lead after the first two quarters Thursday, the Falcons seemed well on their way to repeating the narrative.
Yet, a 44-32 second half in favor of Petersburg marred by Frankfort's foul trouble and mounting frustration with officiating doomed the Class AA's No. 3 squad.
While the Falcons seemed out of sync, the Vikings played flawlessly.
"I'm disappointed, but we can't win them all," Frankfort head coach Mike Miller said. "You want perfection, you want to be perfect every night, but sometimes it's not your night. Tonight wasn't our night. They played their rear ends off, played a good game and got after us pretty good.
"Everything they did was the right thing, and it seemed like everything we did was wrong. And you'll have that in sports. They couldn't miss, they were in the right places at the right time, and if they weren't they got there and they got there with a purpose. Our girls didn't, and that's pretty much to me the difference in the game."
With a 43-38 lead after three, Petersburg's Mickala Taylor swished a jumper with her foot on the top of the arc, followed by a Burgess trey from nearly the same spot to give the home team its first 10-point lead of the night. From then on, the Vikings hit their free throws, and the Falcons never got closer than nine.
Miller's anguish boiled over with 1:45 left when he was called for a technical foul, a sequence seemingly more to prove a point than to argue a call with Petersburg too far ahead to come back.
Frankfort star Marié Perdew was easily the game's highest scorer with 30 points, Halley Smith tallied 15 and Lara Grove ended with 11. No other Falcon tallied more than two points.
Petersburg, meanwhile, had five players garner at least eight points and another score five.
When push came to shove in crunch time, everybody in the gym knew where the ball was going on Frankfort. The Vikings? Not so much. One through five, every player was a threat to put it in the cup on every possession.
In Petersburg's 26-point fourth-quarter explosion, six different players contributed to the total.
"Our girls really just played so hard," Webster said. "I think that's the big thing for us, if we can get everyone to buy in and play like that for a full game, that's huge. Their effort was absolutely tremendous."
Burgess topped Petersburg with 17 points, including a pair of fourth-quarter threes. Kayla Lantz was second with 14, followed by Taylor's 13. Mckenzie Kitzmiller and Kaposy each contributed eight, and Carley Turner chipped in five.
In the teams' first meeting, Petersburg left a myriad of points at the charity stripe. Though the Vikings weren't perfect, hitting 17 of 26 from the line Thursday, Taylor was 5 for 6 in the fourth and Burgess hit a pair to help them maintain their edge. Frankfort, who rarely misses on most nights, was 15 for 23.
Trailing 28-25 at the half, Petersburg flipped the script in the third, in part due to some foul trouble on the Falcons' side.
With Frankfort winning 32-30 with 3:14 left in the frame, Smith — who had three fouls — went to the bench when she fell on her right elbow and came up wincing. Smith joined fellow starter Izzy Layton, who also had three fouls at the time, on the sideline.
Petersburg took advantage, with Kaposy wreaking havoc in transition and scoring a trio of lay-ups off the bench to spark a 13-6 burst over the final three minutes going into the fourth. The Falcons dearly missed their best ball-handler and a top post defender.
To make matters worse, Arin Lease picked up her fourth foul not too long after — she would eventually foul out.
"It was huge, we're not a deep team," Miller said. "We have to find minutes from some of these girls that are going to be positive minutes. Just the way Petersburg got after it tonight, some of them looked like deer in the headlights a little bit. ... When Halley and Izzy and fouls start to mount up on your key players, it takes a toll on you as a team."
Frankfort started off the night hot from the field, with Perdew scoring 10 first-quarter points to give the Falcons a 17-12 lead after one.
Perdew garnered 16 before the break. Lantz tallied 10 of her own to keep the Vikings within arms reach down three at the half, allowing Petersburg to bide its time before pulling away and finally conquer its demon and dispatch the Falcons.
"Tonight was a nice confidence boost for us because we've played them so close the last two times," Webster said. "And we've just not been able to get over that edge.
"I think it does give us some confidence rolling into the end of the season, but we're not satisfied where we are."
In the junior varsity game, Frankfort won 39-29. The Falcons were led by Kelsey Smith and Madi Ruble with eight points apiece. Abby Alt topped Petersburg, scoring eight. Sam Colaw was second with five.
Frankfort is at Lincoln on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Petersburg is home against East Hardy on Saturday at 2 p.m.