Lady Hilltoppers edged by Mekeel Christian

JOHNSTOWN – The Fort Plain Lady Hilltoppers had the play they wanted and the person they wanted at the free-throw line.

With 0.1 seconds remaining in Tuesday’s Western Athletic Conference girls basketball semifinal game and Fort Plain trailing by one, Haley Kilmartin missed both free throws, sealing Mekeel Christian Academy’s 49-48 victory.

“At the end of the year, we always go through certain situations and things like that and they were ready for it,” Fort Plain coach Phil Karker said. “They knew what to do. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t.”

The situation was the Lady Hilltoppers trailed by one with 2 seconds remaining on the game clock after a traveling call against the Lions turned the ball over to Fort Plain. After taking the inbound pass, Abby Boyer lofted a pass toward the basket where Kilmartin was waiting for it.

She caught the pass, went to the hoop and on the way up for the shot where she was fouled with 0.1 seconds remaining. After missing the first one, she still had a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime, but the second shot was short and Mekeel Christian advanced to Friday night’s WAC Cup championship game against Berne-Knox-Westerlo.

“I told her she fought hard,” Karker said. “She was the one we wanted on the line. She did a great job. She was tired. She was gassed. She’s a year out of a torn ACL so she’s not 100 percent. She’s the kid that I would want to take the last shot and Abby was the one I would definitely want to make the pass.”

It nearly capped the Lady Hilltoppers’ return from a 12-point deficit with just less than five minutes remaining in the game.

After taking a 22-21 lead at halftime, Fort Plain’s offense went cold in the third quarter as the Lions outscored them 14-6 to take a 35-28 lead, heading into the final eight minutes.

It wasn’t pretty.

After Lindsay McCarty scored on a putback to give Mekeel Christian a three-point lead, no one scored for nearly three minutes, a stretch that was littered by turnovers. Mekeel’s Lexie Holmes ended the drought with a layup with 46 seconds remaining in the quarter.

“It was ugly basketball for a while,” Karker said. “I was thinking about using some timeouts, but we have been able to pull through that the whole year, so I thought we would be able to pull through that and pull away. They were a lot more aggressive than we were and a lot more scrappy.”

Then, after Macie Holmes knocked down a 3-pointer giving Mekeel Christian (11-6 overall) a 46-34 lead, the Fort Plain defense clamped down and the Lions’ offense dried up in the fourth quarter.

Boyer, who finished with 18 points, knocked down two free throws, starting a personal run of six straight points before Macie Holmes hit two free throws, restoring an eight-point lead with 1:07 to go.

Kilmartin answered by converting a three-point play and with 43.3 seconds remaining, Allehah Van Loan knocked down the front end of two free throws, cutting Mekeel Christian’s lead to 48-44.

Kilmartin rebounded VanLoan’s missed foul shot, scoring on a putback to pull Fort Plain (15-2 overall) to within two points.

Nicole Pigliavento restored the three-point lead by hitting 1 of 2 free throws and Boyer knocked down a pair with 14.8 to go, cutting the lead to 49-48 before the Lions were whistled for traveling with two seconds to go as the Lady Hilltoppers’ press forced them into mistakes.

“We’ve never run that press before, so that was something we picked up on the fly,” Karker said.

The Lady Hilltoppers, while waiting for their placement at today’s Section II girls basketball seed meeting, are scheduled to face Galway on Thursday.

WAC Cup Semifinals

Berne-Knox-Westerlo 51, Galway 33

JOHNSTOWN – Liz Harvey scored 27 points to lead Berne-Knox-Westerlo to a win over Galway in a WAC Cup semifinal contest at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Sarah Abbott finished with 13 points for BKW (16-1 overall).

Erica Chase scored 12 points to lead Galway (10-7 overall).

WAC Cup Semifinals

Mekeel Christian 49, Fort Plain 48

Mekeel Christian13 8 14 14 – 49

Fort Plain15 7 6 20 – 48

Mekeel Christian

Pigliavento 2-1-5, M. Holmes 6-7-22. L. Holmes 5-2-12, Rychcik 0-2-2, McCarty 4-0-8. Totals: 17-12-49.

Fort Plain

Barhydt 4-0-11, Trembley 2-0-5, Kilmartin 3-3-9, Boyer 6-6-18. Florian 2-0-4, VanLoan 0-1-1. Totals: 17-10-48.

3-point goals: Mekeel Christian 6 (M. Holmes 4, L. Holmes 2); Fort Plain 4 (Barhydt 3, Trembley).

Berne-Knox-Westerlo 51, Galway 33

Galway12 9 5 5 – 33

Berne-Knox-Westerlo13 10 16 12 – 51


Chase 3-6-12, Gould 3-0-6, Matthews 1-0-2, Ritter 2-0-4, Spagnola 2-5-9. Totals 11-11-33.


Abbott 5-2-13, Cunningham 1-0-2, Harvey 11-4-27, McCormick 2-3-7, Salo 1-0-2. Totals 20-9-51.

3-point goals: Galway – none; Berne-Knox-Westerlo 2 (Abbott, Harvey).