FARMINGTON — If it had happened in a state championship game, the number would surely mushroom over the years. If it had happened without anyone there to verify it, people probably wouldn’t believe it.
In an age of basketball when people often decry the decline of fundamentals at every level, the Mt. Blue girls gave those critics a big thumb in the eye. In knocking off previously unbeaten Mt. Ararat, the Cougars went 18 for 18 from the line in the final three minutes to salt away a 58-47 victory on Tuesday night.
For the record, the players combining on the perfect streak were Amy Hilton, Mackenzie Conlogue, Gabby Foy, and Jaycee Jenckes. For the game, Mt. Blue (8-3) was 24 for 28 from the line, or 85.7 percent.
“You see that other people are making them, you need to step up for the team, and knock them down,” Hilton said.
“We probably shoot 60 to 80 foul shots in practice,” Foy said. “So that’s one thing that we really pride ourselves on, is making foul shots.”
Mt. Ararat (10-1) certainly played like a No. 1 seed in the first half, and went into the locker room with a 23-20 lead. The Eagles got different players involved, showed they could score inside and out, and never took a bad shot in the half. Caitlin LaFountain scored eight of her 14 points in the first quarter, but the Eagles still played well after she sat down with foul trouble.
But in the third quarter, fewer of those shots were getting good results. Mt. Ararat failed to score over the last four-plus minutes of the quarter, and made just one of its 15 field goal attempts.
“The key was to stay between them and the basket, and get running on offense,” said Foy, who had 17 points. “Our nerves got out after the first half and we were ready to settle down. That’s when we went to work.”
“We just didn’t take care of the basketball as well as we usually do,” Mt. Ararat coach Kelly LaFountain said. “We weren’t taking good shots. We didn’t play as good defense as I thought we should have been playing. But they stepped it up in the second half.”
Mt. Blue led 33-27 and forced a five-second violation on Mt. Ararat with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. At the other end, Addie Brinkman muscled over a double-team to hit a layup at the buzzer, putting the Cougars ahead by eight.
The lead was still eight points at 40-32 with three minutes to play. Led by Mallory Nelson (11 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter) Mt. Ararat scored 15 points over the final three minutes. Still, the Eagles couldn’t gain any ground. Mt. Blue had a couple turnovers, but otherwise every possession ended in two successful foul shots.
“This is only one ballgame,” Mt. Blue coach Tom Philbrick said. “It’s a regular season ballgame. If we see them again, they’re going to step it up, and maybe it’ll be their turn. But it’s just a lot of fun. This (league) is so balanced. It doesn’t matter if you’re 1 or 8 going into the tournament. Anybody can win. Anybody.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243