Fairbanks junior Elaina Lahmers (30) grapples with Pleasant’s Whitney Waddell (10) as both fight for possession of the ball. Also pictured is Fairbanks’ Ellie Carter (24) and Pleasant’s Kayla Columber. (Journal-Tribune photo by Aleksei Pavloff)
The opening minutes of a basketball game can be a little nerve-wracking for both coaches and players.
It is amped up even a little more when it is the first game of the season.
Fairbanks got off to a little bit of a slow start Friday night in girls basketball action at Marion Pleasant.
However, once the Lady Panthers got settled down they were able to find their way offensively and defensively.
Sparked by a 13-4 run to close out the third quarter, Fairbanks continued to do the right things in earning a 49-37 victory over the Lady Spartans.
“I was a little nervous at the start and I think the girls were too,” Fairbanks head coach Landon Fraker said. “We got our legs underneath us later on and got some confidence.”
Fairbanks struggled with its three-point shooting in the first half, hitting just one from behind-the-arc shot during that time.
“I told the girls we needed to work the ball inside-to-out and then outside-to-in,” Fraker said.
Despite the shooting problems, the Lady Panthers trailed by just one – 9-8 – at the end of the first quarter.
A 6-0 spurt midway through the second period on field goals by Anna Poling and Ellie Carter and two free throws by Elaina Lahmers gave Fairbanks a 16-12 edge.
Helped by a pair of rebound baskets by Macy Miller, Fairbanks was able to take a 20-18 lead at the half.
After hitting just one three-point basket in the first half, Fairbanks totaled four during the third period, three as part of the quarter’s closing run.
Carter connected twice and Reese Poling found the range for the other as the Lady Panthers led 40-33 with one quarter left to play.
Aiding to the cause in the third period were two stickbacks by Miller, who finished the game with 16 rebounds.
Fraker was a little worried the end of the quarter would slow down Fairbanks’ momentum
“I would have not liked to have stopped,” Fraker said of the interruption. “I did not want to lose that momentum.”
He did not need to worry.
A baseline jumper and a three-point goal by Lahmers, followed by a steal and layup by Miller, gave Fairbanks a 47-35 advantage with 4:08 left in the game.
Pleasant’s Avah Steele scored on a layup to make it 47-37.
Another layup by Miller provided the Lady Panthers with their winning margin.
The strong third-quarter finish not only helped the offensive output, but also translated to the defensive end of the floor.
Fairbanks limited Pleasant to just four points in the final stanza.
“We were able to get stops and then score,” Fraker said. “That would help us and frustrate them. It is good to be 1-0. Pleasant is a tough place to play and we were able to come away with a win.”
Miller and Lahmers each totaled 16 points to lead the Lady Panthers, while Carter added 12 markers. Carter also had five steals on defense.
Kyla Columber paced Pleasant with 14 points.
Pleasant won the junior varsity contest 42-29.
Claudia Mueller had 11 points for Fairbanks, while Anna Mueller counted five points.
Fairbanks returns to action with its home opener on Tuesday against Buckeye Valley.
R. Poling 1-0-3, Miller 8-0-16, A. Poling 1-0-2, Ruff 0-0-0, Carter 4-2-12, Lahmers 5-3-16. Three-point goals: Lahmers 3, Carter 2, R. Poling.
Waddell 3-0-6, Olt 1-0-2, Williams 0-3-3, Columber 6-1-14, Johnson 2-0-4, Steele 4-0-8. Three-point goal: Columber.