By Randy Arrington
STRASBURG, Feb. 24 — The sixth-seeded Page County Panthers overcame a nine-point first half deficit and outscored the second-seeded Rams of Strasburg in both of the final two quarters. However, the comeback that tied the game with only seconds on the clock was dashed by Strasburg sophomore Addison Morgan, who hit the final bucket at the buzzer to claim a thrilling, 40-38, win over the Panthers in a Region B semifinal Friday night.
The Rams jumped out to an early 15-7 lead after the first quarter behind six points from Bull Run District Player of the Year Macy Smith. The junior then went cold from the floor, as Strasburg only hit one bucket in the second frame. Both teams would only find the net once and shot a combined 8 percent from the floor over the eight-minute period. The Rams would hold an 18-9 edge at the half.
While Page County could only muster nine points in the first half, the Panthers went on an 18-12 run in the third quarter. Three-pointers from freshman Ali Purdham and senior Alexis Frymyer fueled the run, along with six points from junior Faith Mason in just over two minutes, including a 4-for-4 stretch at the free throw line. After trailing by nine at the half, Mason tied the game at the charity stripe, 23-23, with 2:32 left in the third. Strasburg would hold a 30-27 advantage going into the fourth.
The Rams only hit seven buckets in the final three quarters of the game as the Panthers played tough defense, started hitting shots and clawed their way back into the game. Page came within one point of the Rams twice and never trailed by more than three after the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Page closed out the final frame on an 11-10 run behind five points from Frymyer, who hit the tying shot at 38-38 from beyond the arc with only seconds left on the clock. Strasburg’s Smith was able to get the ball back down the court quickly, and a shot inside the paint from Morgan bounced into the net at the buzzer to give the No. 2 Rams a thrilling, 40-38, Region B semifinal win.
The Panthers were lead by the senior guard Frymyer, who scored all 10 of her points in the second half. First-team, All-District junior Adryn Martin scored eight on Friday night, while Purdham had seven and junior Bailee Gaskins added six.
Page County concludes a roller coaster season just one win away from a ticket to the Class 2 state tournament with a final record of 12-13.
The Rams were lead by Smith with 10 points, followed by freshman Emily Gorrell with nine and freshman Jayden Stinnette with eight.
Strasburg (21-6) will now advance to the Region B championship on Saturday at Shenandoah University to face the Eagles of Clarke.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.
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