Fairbanks’ Macy Miller (5) tries to pass the ball to a teammate against defensive pressure from Triad’s Abby Walls. Triad’s Cati LeVan, right however, intercepts the effort. The Lady Panthers rallied for a 50-46 victory over the Lady Cardinals Saturday evening. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
At times Saturday evening, it appeared as though the Triad High School girls basketball team had pretty good control over its game against neighboring Fairbanks.
The Lady Cardinals were knocking down some shots and keeping the Lady Panthers somewhat off-balanced with a shift from a 1-3-1 to a 2-3 zone.
As with many games between these neighboring rivals over the years, it takes a full 32 minutes before anything is decided once and for fall.
Saturday’s battle on FHS’ home court played along those lines when the Lady Panthers pulled out a 50-46 victory.
Neither team set the world on fire with their respective offensive game plans throughout the opening half.
The neighboring combatants wracked up more empty possessions and turnovers than points, especially during the first quarter.
Frani LeVan swooped in for a steal and converted a transition lay-up into an early 2-0 lead for the Lady Cardinals.
She later sank a pair of free throws for a 4-1 lead, but fans primarily saw the ball switch sides without much going on with the scoreboard.
Triad began the contest in a 1-3-1 zone to combat Fairbanks’ size advantage.
The alignment slowed down FHS’ offensive push for a while as the Panthers put together points only through their work on the free throw line.
LeVan lobbed an entry pass into Olivia Bobanova that gave Triad an 8-5 margin with less than a minute left in the opening set.
The Lady Panthers began moving close to the basket, which forced Triad coach Erica Trainer to employ a 2-3 look.
Macy Miller was able to find a gap inside the Triad zone and hit a basket with a second left in the stanza.
That reduced the Lady Panthers’ deficit to 8-7.
Abby Walls dropped in a three-ball and LeVan swished a jumper to begin the ensuing quarter.
The Lady Cardinals pulled out to a 13-7 lead before Fairbanks’ Gracie Pyers hit a jumper.
LeVan, who paced all scorers with 25 markers, buried a three-ball that sent Triad up by a 16-9 lead.
Fairbanks remained within a handful of points over the next several minutes.
LeVan, though, came up with a steal and zeroed in on another trifecta.
Madi Cox followed suit to push the Cardinals out to a 24-17 margin with less than two minutes remaining until halftime.
Fairbanks’ Carley Lehman, who had a rough first half shooting the ball, tickled the twine for a pair of baskets that later narrowed the home team’s deficit to 24-21.
Just when momentum appeared to be shifting a bit, Cati LeVan hit nothing but net on a three-ball that stretched Triad’s lead to 27-21.
Macy Miller scored on an offensive rebound for Fairbanks.
The Lady Panthers then made a defensive stop right before halftime.
As such, FHS went into the turn trailing 27-23.
Miller scored early in the third quarter to cut Fairbanks’ deficit to 27-25.
The Lady Panthers, though, still had trouble navigating Triad’s zone defense and lost valuable possessions.
Frani LeVan converted an FHS miscue into a trifecta that once again stretched the Lady Cardinals’ upper hand to 32-26.
To their credit, the Lady Panthers refused to fold.
Miller scored on a stickback to narrow the gap to 32-28.
Frani LeVan’s jumper was countered by Lillian Miller’s three-ball to bring FHS to within 34-31.
Miller controlled the boards for another shot off the glass that suddenly made Triad’s lead an uncomfortable 34-33.
“What was disappointing tonight was that this didn’t appear to be our night to rebound,” said Trainer. “Give Fairbanks credit …. they outhustled us to the ball and that gave them additional possessions.”
Fairbanks senior Bella Rowland only sank two shots all night.
They both, however, were huge.
Her first offering was a three-pointer that sent the home team into the final quarter with a 36-34 margin.
Frani LeVan gave Triad the lead once again with a three-ball early in the fourth set.
She also converted a steal into a traditional three-point play that pushed Triad a 40-36 advantage.
Cati LeVan scored along the baseline as the Lady Cardinals climbed to a 42-36 lead.
Just when Triad appeared to regain full momentum, Rowland got the ball to nestle into the net for another three-pointer.
That shot, which pulled FHS to within 42-39, was basically the basket that began to shift the good times toward the home squad.
Megan Rausch hit a charity toss as Fairbanks closed the spread to 42-40.
Macy Miller than swiped the ball and went in for the layup that tied the game at 42-all.
Fairbanks continued to find the outside shooting range to counteract Triad’s zone.
Lahmers found the arc to her liking as her shot broke the stalemate and gave FHS a 45-42 lead.
The clock was winding through its’ final minutes as the teams continued to trade possessions.
Frani LeVan scored after a steal that pulled Triad to within 45-44 with a minute to play.
Macy Miller once again cleaned the offensive glass and drew a foul.
She hit one charity toss to give FHS a 46-44 edge with 39.5 seconds left.
The Cardinals missed the front end of the one-and-one
Macy Miller climbed the boards for the ball.
Lillian Miller was then fouled with a little more than 20 seconds to play.
She hit both ends of the one-and-bonus to push the Lady Panthers out to a precarious 48-44 edge.
FHS sent Cati LeVan to the free throw line with 13.1 ticks on the timer.
She made both charity tosses and made the game even more tense at 48-46.
Lehman weaved through Triad’s defense on Fairbanks’ ensuing possession.
She was fouled with 6.7 seconds to play.
The freshman was spot on with both free throws as the Lady Panthers’ lead expanded to 50-46.
Triad then missed a long three-point attempt as time expired.
The loss wrapped up the regular season for Triad.
The Lady Cardinals finished the regular season with a 4-18 mark.
They will travel to Sidney High School on Saturday to face Ansonia in the Division IV tournament.
The Lady Panthers (10-10) will host Madison Plains for Senior Night on Tuesday.
Note: FHS head coach Landon Fraker coached much of the game with an illness. He was unavailable for comment after the contest.
M. Miller 6-2-14, Lehman 2-7-11, Lahmers 2-2-8, Rowland 2-0-6, L. Miller 1-2-5, Rausch 1-1-3, Pyers 1-1-3. Totals 15-15-50.
Three-point goals: Lahmers 2, Rowland 2, L. Miller 1.
F. LeVan 8-5-25, C. LeVan 3-2-9, Walls 2-0-5, Cox 1-0-3, Butz 1-0-2, Bobanova 1-0-2, Perry 0-0-0. Totals 16-7-46.
Three-point goals: F. LeVan 4, C. LeVan 1, Walls 1, Cox 1.
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