GLEN DALE - The John Marshall girls' basketball team surrendered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before turning in two huge plays at the end to defeat East Fairmont, 53-49, on Thursday night on the home floor.
Mallory Ball's 15-foot set shot splashed through the cords with 25 seconds remaining to regain the lead for the Monarchs and Kristin Lewicki did what she always seems to do best, stealing the ball away and driving to the other end of the court for the game-clinching layup.
Playing without injured All-Valley junior forward Kylie Howard, currently on the shelf with a severely sprained ankle, the Monarchs led nearly the entire game only to see the Bees explode on a 13-4 run in the fourth quarter to draw even at 49-49.
East Fairmont (3-3) had a golden opportunity to take over the lead with exactly one minute on the clock when leading scorer Brooklyn Weaver stepped to the foul line for a two-shot opportunity. Weaver, who finished the game with 18 points, hit the first one to deadlock the game but her second attempt was off the mark.
John Marshall worked the clock down to less than 30 seconds when Ball set her feet on the right side near the Monarchs bench and hit the crucial shot. The Bees, after a timeout with 20 seconds to play, appeared to be having trouble getting into their offense when Lewicki took the ball away and had clear sailing to the other end to score the final two of her 17 points.
''I've been preaching to Mallory that if she gets her feet set, she can make those shots. Then 'Wick' (Lewicki) came through with that big play on the defensive end,'' John Marshall's first-year coach Mark McCormick said.
''Losing Kylie hurt a lot but this is a team thing. I think our girls did a very good job against a well-coached East Fairmont team. We played a strong game and we rebounded the ball very well."
McCormick also was pleased with the sparkling performance turned in on both ends of the floor by Alexis Montes. The 5-foot-11 senior scored 19 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. Jenna Stephens, JM's tallest player at 6-2, snagged 10 rebounds.
''We must have pulled down a ton of rebounds," McCormick said. ''I think our 2-2-1 defense frustrated them early and when they started adjusting to it, we went to our diamond for a while. Overall, we did a solid job.''
Lewicki and Alyssa George enabled John Marshall to get off to a quick start. The opening tap wound up in the quick Lewicki's hands and she sailed off for a layup. John Marshall forced a turnover on East Fairmont's initial possession, allowing George to take the ball to basket for a 4-0 lead. Ball's triple and Lewicki's conventional three-point play made it 10-3 before the Bees rallied to get within 14-10 by the end of the quarter.
Shannon Pegg came off the John Marshall bench and buried back-to-back trifectas to start the second, escalating the Monarchs lead into double-figures for the first time. Lewicki added seven more points, increasing her halftime total to 12 as John Marshall left the court in front 34-27.
The lead was 45-35 opening the fourth quarter but East Fairmont went on a roll behind seven points from Weaver. The Bees went on a 7-0 run and eventually closed to within 47-46 on Weaver's putback with four minutes remaining.
Lewicki then found Montes open for a layup and a three-point lead that the visitors erased with Caitlin Fluharty's layup that kissed high off the glass into the net and Weaver's game-tying free throw.
JM may have assisted the Bees' comeback with some 3-point attempts that the head coach didn't exactly want during the latter stages of the game.
''Our shot selection wasn't the best in the second half,'' McCormick said. ''We got a little bit out of whack and that's why I called that timeout to settle everybody down.
''This was a big win for us after losing to Central (Wednesday). I'm having to tinker with the lineup now that Kylie's out. But I'm really pleased we could bounce back with a win.''
John Marshall, after starting the season at 3-0, lost back-to-back games to Wheeling Central before picking up its fourth victory in the final game before Christmas break. McCormick's girls return to the court Tuesday in a rematch with East Fairmont in the Fairmont Invitational Tournament.