Fairmont Heights started yesterday's Class 2A, Region III girls basketball game against Southern-AA by committing 11 turnovers in the first five minutes. The Hornets also went scoreless for the first 4:56.
But it was the way Fairmont Heights finished that counted.
The No. 3 seed Hornets (16-6) erased an 11-point third-quarter lead and forced 11 turnovers in the final quarter to edge host and No. 2 seed Southern, 59-55.
Southern (13-10) held the lead for the third quarter, but the Bulldogs struggled in final minutes, failing to hold onto the ball consistently after point guard Kari Sherbert fouled out.
The Bulldogs' high turnover count in the final quarter and especially in the final minutes was the key to the game, Southern coach Linda Kilpatrick said.
"We just didn't protect the ball at the right time," Kilpatrick said. "Our ball-handling is weak, so we tried to make up for it in other ways."
Southern had a first-round bye while Fairmont Heights defeated Chopticon, 56-39, on Tuesday. The Hornets will play the Damascus/Central winner tomorrow.
Lakeshia Mullen paced the Bulldogs with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Center Laekeka Wesley had 19 points and 20 rebounds.
Southern opened with a 10-0 run in the first four minutes, taking advantage of Fairmont Heights' 11 turnovers. The Hornets finished the quarter with 13 turnovers and shot 14 percent
(2-for-14) from the field.
Fairmont Heights cut the deficit to three points less than two minutes into the second quarter on Cherika White's layup. Southern increased its lead to 23-17 three minutes later and led 28-23 at the half.
The Bulldogs had a double-digit lead for more than half of the third quarter, but Fairmont Heights closed to 42-37 after three quarters. The Hornets' starting center and a starting forward fouled out in the third quarter.
The Hornets gained their first lead of the second half at the 4:47 mark of the final quarter and led 51-49 at 1:47. Southern drew no closer.
"When their inside strength went out in the third quarter, we didn't take advantage of it," Kilpatrick said.