Hillcrest controlled the lead for the majority of the game, but gave it away in the last six minutes by turning the ball over to Taylor Davis on three bad passes.
“I’ve always kind of joked with Davis, she prefers to play offense and I always say, hey, who ever thought I’d say you played great defense… but she’s become a big defensive stopper for us” said Fair Grove head coach Jenny Talbert.
The two teams matched up earlier in the season at the Pink and White Tournament where Fair Grove managed to pull out another close victory.
“I told the girls to be ready for [Hillcrest’s] best effort. We knew that if we could keep Cleeton and Fisher in check, we could get the job done,” said Talbert.
Despite the warning, Cleeton and Fisher were major players in tonight’s game, not only as the leading scorers, but also as important play makers.
Fisher was an organizing force for the Hornets, especially in the first quarter when she connected on several passes to Kelbi Painter to establish an early lead.
Meanwhile, Cleeton effectively distributed the ball around the key. Her major scoring moment came in the third quarter when she lit up the scoreboard with two consecutive three-pointers.
Though Fair Grove briefly held a slight advantage at the half, Hillcrest seemed to gain control of the game in the third and had established an eight point lead by the end of the quarter. That all changed in the fourth quarter.
“I told them to play the first two minutes and then the next two minutes because you’re not going to get all the points on one possession,” said Talbert.
Sure enough, the Eagles started to creep up on the Hornet’s lead early in the fourth with Morgan Kensinger and DeAmbra Pilkinton picking up a few field goals each. Pilkinton also sunk five points in free throws during the fourth quarter.
The game changer, though, came in the form of Davis intercepting three Hillcrest passes and converting the turnovers into six points worth of layups: two scored by her, and the third of of an assist to Pilkinton.
“[We had] a good game plan, and I felt like we executed it well for three quarters, but the fourth quarter is where we did not execute our game plan,” said Hillcrest head coach Jeni Hopkins. “I don’t feel like we played a bad game. I feel like we played solid until that last six minutes, and the credit really goes to them and not against us, but just for them.”
Fair Grove stands at 14-5 for the season and plays at Lebanon next on Jan. 28 at 4:30. Hillcrest is at 8-8 and will be at Home against Rolla on Jan. 24 at 5:30.
Fair Grove 66, Hillcrest 58
Fair Grove 11-16-11-28—66
Fair Grove—Morgan Kensinger 18, DeAmbra Pilkinton 17, Taylor Davis 12, Shelby Morrow 8, Bailey Weaver 6, Kalie Wood 4, Shania Hawley 1.