CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — The Farmington girls basketball team saw its fate rest on the outcome of an uncontested jumper Thursday night after disputed calls wiped out two offensive possessions in the final minute.
Meadow Heights junior Taylor Cureton emerged from a frenetic scramble to hoist a clean 17-footer from just beyond the foul line, but firmly caught the left side of the rim with two seconds remaining.
The Panthers could not generate a putback attempt after tracking the long rebound near the baseline, and the fifth-seeded Knightettes emerged with a 52-51 victory to capture third place at the Show Me Center Holiday Classic.
Farmington snapped a 50-50 deadlock when junior center Rachel Williams received a lob between two defenders and scored along the low block, then spent the remaining minute and 23 seconds protecting its fragile lead.
After senior Erin Bollmann split two free throws, second-seeded Meadow Heights was awarded possession despite deflecting a lengthy pass out of bounds near the Farmington bench.
Knightettes guard Jessica Hicks responded with a steal and quickly attacked the basket in transition, but joined senior teammate Sara Pinkley on the bench with her fifth foul after being whistled for a charge.
Meadow Heights could not capitalize on the break, however, and Farmington (4-3) notched its second win over a higher seed after edging Cape Central by two points in the quarterfinal round.
Sophomore Jordan Martin compiled a team-high 15 points for Farmington, drilling three shots from beyond the arc. Freshman Kaitlyn Gilliam netted 14 points with four steals, and Williams added 13 points with five blocks.
“Especially when you’re a young team, it’s good to go into a tournament and win two games,” Farmington coach Steve McFarland said. “We beat two good teams this week and lost to a really good team (Jackson).”
Senior standout Whitney Welker poured in 28 points for Meadow Heights (7-3), and opened the contest with a personal 8-0 run. Bollmann scored a dozen in the second half to finish with 19.
Farmington recovered from a slow start with a calming 10-0 spurt. Gilliam highlighted the sudden rally with a pair of follow jumpers after taking a steal to the basket for a transition layup.
“We had a couple of turnovers and missed a couple of shots when they jumped out to the lead,” McFarland said. “Then we settled down and started handling the press to get the shots we wanted.”
Caity Friend and Pinkley combined for 10 points in the second quarter, and the Knightettes carried a 31-24 lead into halftime after Martin banked in a runner while drawing contact for a conventional 3-point play.
Farmington racked up 10 team fouls before Meadow Heights was assessed its second, allowing the Panthers to increase its level of aggression after the intermission. The overall foul differential was 22-9.
Bollmann buried a pull-up jumper and finished a nifty assist from Welker on back-to-back trips. Welker closed the third quarter scoring with a putback to give Meadow Heights a 42-38 edge.
With Welker and Bollmann accounting for all but four of their team’s points, both players merited extra attention from the Farmington defense.
“They were going 1-on-1 a lot with their post players inside, and we were in foul trouble,” McFarland said. “About the last five or six trips down the floor, we switched to a zone trap and encouraged them to take the outside shot. Those didn’t fall and that helped our rebounding a little bit.”
Farmington surged back to lead 46-44 when Martin splashed her second 3-pointer of the final stanza with 4:58 to play. The game was tied three times heading down the stretch.
The Panthers converted 14-of-20 free throws while the Knightettes made 3-of-5. Jackson topped defending champion Notre Dame 56-47 to claim the tournament title.
Farmington 15 16 7 14 – 52
Meadow Heights 11 13 18 9 – 51
Farmington – Kaitlyn Gilliam 14, Rachel Williams 13, Jordan Martin 13, Caity Friend 6, Sara Pinkley 6. 3-point FG – Martin 3. (FT: 3-5)
Meadow Heights – Whitney Welker 28, Erin Bollmann 19, Hayley Thorne 4. 3-point FG – None. (FT: 14-20)