Tough Break: Ferndale Girls Drop Close One to Farmington 67-64
The Eagles almost upend conference leader in tight contest on the road.
FARMINGTON – Missed free throws and questionable calls.
That’s what cost the Ferndale girls varsity basketball team its shot at an upset on Friday night at Farmington in a game that came down to the final 60 seconds. The Eagles 3-game win streak was snapped in a close 67-64 loss to the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division’s top team.
Janecia Jenkins’ two free throws tied the game for Ferndale (5-7; 4-4 OAA Blue) at 62-62 with 55 seconds left. On the ensuing Falcons' possession Jenkins fouled Farmington's Tamera Anthony on a drive to the basket. The layup went in and Anthony sunk her free throw attempt to complete the 3-point play and put Farmington ahead 65-62 with only 34.4 seconds left.
Ferndale quickly pushed the ball up the court and dumped it inside to Elisse Parker. Parker answered Anthony’s layup with one of her own to make it 65-64.
Farmington (9-3; 8-0 OAA Blue) called timeout to regroup and controversy ensued on the inbound play out of the stoppage. It was the first of two controversial calls that went the Falcons' way in the games' final seconds.
Farmington's Susan Roggenkamp passed the ball to Cherrish Willis in the backcourt and Ferndale's Shania Malloy was right in front of her. Malloy didn’t appear to make any contact, but Willis fell to the ground.
Instead of calling traveling on Willis, the referee called a foul on Malloy and the Ferndale fans in attendance immediately made their opinion on the call known with loud boos. Farmington was in the double bonus and Willis hit the two free throws to give her team a 67-64 lead with only 15.9 seconds left.
Ferndale needed a 3-pointer to tie the game, but couldn’t get one off. Malloy settled on a long two and missed with 4 seconds left.
All Farmington needed to do was inbound the ball cleanly and the win was theirs. Roggenkamp got the ball past a jumping Ferndale defender and almost an exact repeat of the controversial inbound play 10 seconds earlier happened. The Falcons ball handler caught the ball and fell to the ground between Ferndale defenders. Traveling wasn’t called, but neither was a foul.
“There were a couple of travels like that that they called on us that we didn’t get,” Ferndale coach Berwyn Ellis said. “Very questionable.”
The clock ran out as Ellis walked up the court to question the referee’s decision.
“We wanted to play tough defense to try and get the five second count or once they got in to foul,” Ellis said. “She fell down with no contact. No call was made, I don’t know whether they (the referees) were ready to leave or what.”
But Ellis conceded that the calls alone weren’t to blame. Ferndale had a number of opportunities in the second half they couldn’t capitalize on, mainly from the free throw line. Ferndale went to the line 48 times in the game --- 31 times in the second half.
The Eagles shot just under 42 percent from the line in the second half (13 for 31) and finished the game only slightly better at 43.8 percent. Jenkins went seven for eight in the fourth quarter. Without her strong finish, the team would have shot a woeful 35 percent.
“Janecia hit her two to tie the game, but we hit maybe 10 more free throws we walk out of here with a win,” Ellis said.
The amount of whistles slowed the pace of the game down to a crawl. The teams combined for 74 free-throw attempts.
In the first half, both teams were into the bonus with 6 minutes left in the second quarter. In the second half, Farmington put Ferndale into the bonus before the third quarter even ended. Starters Lida Baur, Erin Howell and Keshia Todd all fouled out for the Falcons.
“I think the officials ought to let the girls play it out,” Ellis said. “They shouldn’t become a factor in a close game like this.”
It was the second close game the teams have had this month. Farmington barely escaped Ferndale with a 57-51 win on Jan. 10 and Farmington coach Dave Browne again was impressed with the strides the young Eagles team is making.
He was especially impressed with the effort from Ferndale’s frontcourt. Jenkins and Ariel Walker hurt the Falcons inside all game long. Jenkins finished with 19 points and Walker had 11. Most of their field goals came on offensive rebounds and put backs.
“Ferndale really dictated the pace of the game,” Browne said. “I think they were more physical this game. They’ve won some games and they got a lot of confidence. They’re definitely an improving team and we weren’t ready to match their physical play during the game.”
Ferndale plays three of its next four games at home and will look to finish the season strong for a .500 or better. Ferndale plays Ecorse at home on Feb. 1 and Andover on Feb. 4.
“I like the way we’ve been playing,” Ellis said. “I think this was a win that they really wanted to have and we just came up short.”