The Indians leapt out to a 14-5 first quarter lead and never looked back as they grinded out a 46-32 victory over the Mountaineers.
“I think we kind of shocked Berlin a little bit,” Mellott said. “We had an excellent start and we just carried it from there. (Berlin) never recovered from the start.”
Southern Fulton has made the 1-3-1 zone defense a tradition. That defense held Berlin to single-digit scoring in each of the first three quarters. The Indians led 24-12 at the half and 30-19 in the third quarter.
“We’ve rode that 1-3-1 the whole way and we really play it well,” Mellott said. “It just shuts down offenses and that’s what it did.”
Although Berlin had played at Pitt-Johnstown in the WestPAC championship game, Mountaineers coach Rachel Prosser said that her team had not experienced a District 5 championship game and nerves were a factor early on.
“It’s a big stage and I think the nerves were definitely there,” Prosser said. “We prepared for the 1-3-1 all week, but we didn’t do what we wanted to tonight.”
Southern Fulton slowed the pace down in the second half and was patient in the half court set. The Indians rotated the ball around the perimeter and waited for lanes to open up. The approach limited possessions in the game and contributed to holding Berlin to just 32 points in the game.
“We have really good guards and with them we were able to run a little clock and take really good care of the basketball,” Mellott said.
The Indians made just 11 field goals while shooting 22 of 33 from the foul line in the win.
“It’s awesome,” Southern Fulton senior Lacey Beatty said of maintaining a lead the entire game. “It makes you feel on top of the world. We’ve had trouble this season (getting off to early starts) and it really helps. I think it built our momentum and got things going for us.”
The Indians closed out the win from the foul line in the fourth quarter — shooting 14 of 19 from the stripe.
“That’s what wins,” Mellott said of his team’s foul shooting. “We were shooting just 50 percent earlier in the year and we’ve worked to get that percentage up. You have to hit your foul shots and we made an honest effort to get better at that.”
Beatty led the Indians with 16 points while Chelsie Eader and Macey Hollenshead scored 12 and nine points, respectively. Freshman forward Shelby Coughenour led the Mountaineers with 16 points.
Berlin will play the third place team from District 7 while Southern Fulton will play Conemaugh Valley, the third place team from District 6.
Southern Fulton: Beatty 5 5 16, Eader 3 5 12, Hollenshead 0 9 9, Strait 1 1 3, Chilcote 1 0 2, Mills 1 0 2, Morton 0 2 2. Totals: 11 22-33 46.
Three-pointers: Beatty 1, Eader 1
Berlin: Coughenour 6 4 16, Craig 1 3 5, Eutsey 2 0 4, Short 1 0 3, Luprek 0 2 2, Riley 0 1 1, Fieg 0 1 1. Totals: 10 11-19 32.
Three-pointers: Short 1
Southern Fulton 14 10 6 16 — 46
Berlin 5 7 7 13 — 32