Erie Regional semifinals: Fulton 64, Bureau Valley 52
PROPHETSTOWN — A third-quarter run put the Fulton Steamers into the lead, and Fulton was able to hold off Bureau Valley’s response to win the Erie-Prophetstown Class 2A Regional semifinal 64-52 Wednesday night at Prophetstown Middle School.
Rylee Leitzen’s 3-pointer, followed by a Leitzen steal feeding Emily Schipper for a layup, sparked a 10-0 Steamers run early in the third. The Storm chipped away at the deficit, but never were able to pull even.
Fulton (10-21) made its first four shots of the second half and added baskets on three straight possessions later in the quarter, turning a 28-28 halftime tie into a 45-33 lead midway through the third.
But it was the Steamers defense that was clamping down during that run as well. An Emily Fordham layup on Bureau Valley’s first possession of the half turned out to be the only basket from the field in the third quarter.
“We were just keeping the defensive intensity up, and we were slowing the offense down and getting in BV’s head,” said Leitzen, who scored 19 points, “We could pick each other up offensively because we went down and we went on a spurt, but we were just running and getting out ahead.”
Fordham and Saige Barnett were able to score to keep it close, but those came from the free-throw line.
“I told the senior girls that we were going to have to go out and fight for it,” Bureau Valley coach Jim Nugent said. “We hit some shots and brought it within [four], and [Fulton] came down and hit another shot. We could never clear that.”
Fulton again built the lead to double-digits in the fourth quarter. After Fordham opened the final stanza with a pair of free throws to cut the Fulton lead to 45-41, Leitzen hit a 3-pointer, then grabbed a steal and got a layup. Kylee Sweenie added free throws to get the lead back to nine, then Schipper hit a basket cutting to the lane to make it 54-43.
Bureau Valley (18-10) got back within six in the closing minutes when Fordham hit a 3-pointer, then stole the inbounds pass and cruised in for a layup to cut the lead to 58-52. But Fulton was able to close it out from the line, with Leitzen, Schipper and Kearston Norman hitting free throws.
Bureau Valley jumped out to an 18-13 lead after one quarter thanks to a 10-2 run late in the first sparked by Fordham’s 3-pointer and basket in the paint, a Barnett 3-pointer, and a jumper by Hannah Williams.
But Fulton roared back in the second, with Schipper scoring six points in the quarter and Macy Puckett and Leitzen adding 3-pointers.
“Fulton came to play,” Nugent said. “They came with a lot more energy than they showed us last time. I can’t point to anything and say, ‘We didn’t do this, we didn’t do that.’ I thought we played a good game, too.”
Fordham finished with 21 points for the Storm, with eight rebounds.
“Emily, that’s how she is,” Nugent said. “She’s our post player, we get the ball down to her. We expect her to score. I expect her to play like that every night.”
Barnett scored 18 points, shooting 5-for-20 from the field, and ending her career as the Storm’s all-time leading scorer.