Fallston's girls basketball team likes to play a fast-forward brand of basketball. Sometimes it gets a little too fast.
The Cougars (1-2) knocked off Southern, of Garrett County, 48-45, for the first win of the season Thursday night. But they never had a comfortable lead until the final buzzer.
Early in the game, the Cougars were often uncontrolled. Visiting Southern (0-2), fresh off a four-hour bus ride, got 11 of its 27 first-half points at the foul line.
Later Fallston used a trapping defense to upset the Rams' ball handlers and cause 15 second-half turnovers. That defense held the Rams to just two points in the third quarter. Fallston got half of its 24 second-half points directly off Rams turnovers.
"We play such a fast-paced game that we have to learn the discipline," said Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson. "They're so aggressive. They want to go after the steal when they're on the ball. I have to tell them don't -- it's going to be the girl off the ball who comes in and makes the steal."
The Cougars almost cost themselves the game in the final seconds. Jenny Howard (17 points, 12 rebounds) hit a short bank shot giving Fallston a 46-42 lead with 42 seconds left. But Fallston never slowed the pace.
Leading by four with 12 seconds left, Cindy Jenkins took a hurried eight-foot jumper in the lane with 12 seconds to go. Ferguson breathed a sigh of relief when it went in.
"I told them to slow it down and take good shots," said the coach.
"With a four-point lead we should take time off the clock, but we get excited. That (patience) comes with experience."
The Cougars, who start only two seniors, got in foul trouble early, with center Nicole Lauer picking up three fouls in the first four minutes.
The Cougars also had trouble with the Rams' full-court pressure, turning the ball over six times in the first four minutes. Once they managed to break the press, the Cougars had trouble converting until the final minutes.
Defensively, Fallston had trouble covering Southern's sharpshooters, Michelle Duling (20 points) and Shelli Cannon (11 points). Quick ball movement gave Duling and Cannon plenty of opportunities to shoot their trademark baseline jumpers.
Cougars forward Pam Toth, who scored all eight of her points in the first quarter, hit a pair of free throws to give the Cougars a 13-12 lead.
Foul trouble continued for Fallston through the second quarter as Toth picked up her third. The Cougars also lost defensive quickness when Denise Sarver fell, aggravating a knee injury. Sarver had come off the bench to make three steals in four minutes.
The Rams ran up a 27-20 lead with 33 seconds to halftime. But the Cougars cut that lead to three in the final 17 seconds. Kristie Wegeler (seven points) fed Howard for a layup. Then Wegeler got a steal off the press and made a layup with four seconds left.
The Cougars cut off Southern's baseline jumpers in the second half. "We knew that (Duling and Cannon) were their best shooters from last year," said Jenkins. "In the beginning, we weren't really covering them, but at halftime, our coach told us wherever they are don't let them shoot."
It didn't hurt that Duling got into foul trouble and had to sit out the third quarter. Without her, the Rams hit only one of their nine third-quarter shots.
When Duling returned in the fourth quarter, the Rams tied the game at 38 with 3:37 left. Jenkins then came up with two steals and Howard converted on them both as the Cougars took the lead for good.