Host Meridian had crawled nearly all the way back from a 13-point halftime deficit, trailing Farwell 36-35 with just 12 seconds left.
“I kind of regret pulling us out of the zone (defense),” Farwell head coach Tom Kleinhardt said. “When I did that, we lost control of the game, that back-fired on us.”
Though it was the Lady Mustangs’ ability to break the Lady Eagles’ man-defense that got them back into the game, it was the same defense that may have saved their night as well as they kept the Mustangs from putting up a potential game winning shot as time ran out.
“We came back out (of a timeout) and shut them down on that last possession,” Kleinhardt said of his team’s 36-35 Jack Pine Conference girls basketball win. “We came out in a man defense and it worked for us. I don’t know it they expected man, but it worked out.”
Early on, it looked as if the game wouldn’t be in question as Farwell raced to a 9-2 lead after the first quarter, behind an early three-pointer by Jenna Hamming.
Hamming opened the second quarter with a deep two-pointer from straight-on and sank a pair of three-throws to put the Lady Eagles up 13-2.
Jenna McKinley got in on the scoring next for the Eagles, getting a 16-footer from the right side of the court to fall, and later drilled a three-pointer from the left side of the court to fall that put Farwell up 18-5.
Meridian scored to make it 18-7, though Farwell scored the final four points of the half to lead 22-7, getting a basket by Caron White and a left-handed baby-hook by Kate Saupe to fall as time ran out on the half.
The Mustangs scored the first nine points of the second half to get within 22-18, though Farwell scored twice in the final minute of the quarter to lead 26-18 entering the fourth. Scoring on that mini-run was Sydney Hurley on a put-back basket and Hamming on a lay-up off an assist by White.
Early in the fourth, the Eagles padded their lead back to eight at 30-22 on a free-throw by White but Meridian went on a 9-3 run to cut the lead to 33-31 with two minutes to play.
Hamming scored on a lay-in after getting the inbound pass for an underneath the basket to make it 35-31, with Hamming going on to add a free-throw to make it 36-31 with 29 seconds left.
Meridian hit four free-throws to trail 36-35 with 17 seconds left, but Farwell, after missing a pair of free-throws on its ensuing possession managed to stave off the Mustang’s last second efforts.
“We lost Hurley (to foul trouble) and that changed the complexion of the game I think,” Kleinhardt said. “She was putting good pressure on them up top. The big thing is with this win we’re guaranteed to finish .500 and finish fourth place in the JPC.”
Hamming and White finished with 12 points apiece in the win, McKinley added five, Saupe scored four and Hurley finished with three. White grabbed 11 rebounds, with Saupe and Hamming both getting nine boards. Hurley added seven steals and three assists.
On Thursday, Feb. 14 Farwell topped host Roscommon 55-40 in another league match-up.
White scored eight of Farwell’s 10 first quarter points to give the Eagles a slim 10-8 lead after the first, though Hamming and Saupe netted six points a piece in the second to propel Farwell to a 26-19 lead at the half.
Farwell scored just one field goal in the third, but hit four free-throws as they clung to a 32-31 lead entering the fourth.
The Eagles erupted for 23 points in the fourth quarter to pull away for the win, getting 10 points in the frame by Hamming and seven by White. Farwell hit seven-of-10 free-throws in the fourth to preserve the win.
The Eagles were led by Hamming with 17 points, White had 15 and Saupe added 11.
Farwell (9-9 overall, 7-6 JPC) played at JPC champion Clare on Thursday and begins district play in Reed City on Wednesday, against the winner of Chippewa Hills and Big Rapids.