When the FPD girls took a nine-point lead midway through the third quarter, it looked like they were on their way to a win Wednesday in the first round of the GISA Class AAA tournament.
Ashley Cope was having a huge game, and Fran Johnson was all over the place. The Lady Vikings’ role players were playing well
But Trinity Christian, coming off its only loss of the season in its region tournament finals, fought back. And Trinity had a weapon of its own in junior named Anna Claire Knight.
Knight, who had struggled with her shooting all game, scored 11 points and had two assists during a decisive 17-3 run to end the third quarter and Trinity held on to claim a 68-61 win.
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“It seemed like we might be in some trouble in the first half and even into the second half,” Knight said. “They were really taking us out of our game, and I was struggling with my shooting. I thought we played much better in the second half, and once we started playing well as a team, everything changed.
“It took us awhile to get settled in, and maybe it was because we lost our last game. It probably did us good to lose because it helped us realize that we weren’t invincible. It was a great win for us, because we lost in the first round last year.”
FPD had a game plan and stuck to it. They Lady Vikings constantly pressured the basketball and forced 14 turnovers in the first half. Cope was on fire, scoring 22 of her team’s first 27 points, and FPD had its biggest lead at 27-16. Trinity cut into that lead and made it a four-point game at halftime behind Knight’s six quick points.
Soon after FPD took its nine-point lead, Johnson picked up her fourth foul, and Trinity and Knight were able to get things going. They stretched their lead to 15 at 59-44 on a Kailey Belote basket early in the fourth but FPD had one more run. Cope scored 14 straight points for FPD, and it was a 62-58 game with a minute left, But Knight and Natalia Underwood hit four straight free throws to put the game out of reach.
“FPD came to play,” Trinity head coach Rick Johnson said. “It seemed like even when we took the lead, we were still chasing them. I think we might have had a little confidence issue coming off our first loss, but I think our depth finally wore them down.
“I told the girls at halftime that I didn’t think we had matched FPD’s intensity and that was our goal in the second half. Once we got into our game we had some easy baskets, but FPD did an outstanding job.”
Cope had 40 points in her final high school game. Johnson had 10 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals. Knight led Trinity with 32.
“We did everything we could to win this basketball game,” FPD head coach Charley Chase said. “I think we just took the top team in the state to the very end with a chance to win. Ashley Cope is the heart and soul and the central nervous system of this team, and she put us on her back and gave us a chance to win. I think in the end, we were just too tired to finish the game like we wanted to.”