Lady Hilltoppers push past Poland

By By MICHAEL KELLY/Recorder Sports Staff

FORT PLAIN — A night after playing about as good as they could have hoped for in their season opener, the Fort Plain Lady Hilltoppers basketball team suffered through 32 minutes of ugly basketball Saturday night.

Even still, Fort Plain wrapped up its tipoff home tournament — the Section II vs. Section III Shootout — with another win, as the Lady Hilltoppers pushed past the Poland Lady Tornadoes, 37-23.

Fort Plain won despite committing 28 turnovers and shooting 11 of 49 from the field. Following the game, Fort Plain head coach Phil Karker was diplomatic in his assessment of the contest.

“Every year,” he started, “you get those games where you play really, really well — you get four or five of those — and then you always have two or three games that are ugly.

“This,” he continued, “was an ugly game.”

With the exception of one spurt early in the second quarter, the Lady Hilltoppers (2-0) never seemed to be fully into Saturday night’s game. Junior forward Abby Boyer said the team knew it was in a fog during the contest, but the players just could not shake out from it.

“A lot of us were tired from playing back-to-back games and some of us were here today since 1:30,” she said. The early arrival for the Lady Hilltoppers — whose game began a little after 7:30 p.m. — was because the team worked the concession stands for the junior varsity portion of the tournament.

But while Fort Plain slogged its way through the contest, it did so always comfortably in the lead. The Lady Hilltoppers led by five points after one quarter, but then put together an 11-0 run to start the second quarter to essentially seal the contest. From there, Poland (0-2) once got to within five points, but spent most of the contest down double digits. Poland’s Paige Sullivan had seven points, seven rebounds and five steals to lead the Lady Tornadoes.

Fort Plain’s Boyer had 11 points and 15 rebounds, while teammate Haley Kilmartin led the Lady Hilltoppers with 15 points, 17 rebounds, five steals and three blocks.

While the two junior forwards did their best to spring the Lady Hilltoppers to a second consecutive victory, Poland’s full-court pressure and height advantage bothered Fort Plain throughout the contest.

“You have to credit [Poland’s] pressure because it made our kids uncomfortable,” said Karker. “We couldn’t really seem to get in the flow like we did [Friday] night.”

In that contest, Fort Plain whipped Herkimer, 55-39. Boyer had 23 points and 13 rebounds in that outing, while Kilmartin collected 12 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and four blocks. Senior Allehah Van Loan had 11 points in that contest.

While Saturday night’s game did not go exactly to plan, Boyer said the Lady Hilltoppers were satisfied with their start to the season. Fort Plain next plays Mayfield in the teams’ Western Athletic Conference opener.

“We won both games, so that’s always good,” said Boyer. “You’re always going to have some bad games, but, as long as you get the wins, it’s OK. We just need to come back and work hard Monday at practice to be ready for Wednesday.”