Jolly again no fun for Shepherd
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The smallest Fairmont player, Jason Jolly, has always been the biggest tormentor the Fighting Falcons have when it comes to playing against Shepherd.
In the past, the perpetual motion guard has scored more than 40 points in a win over the Rams. He didn’t short-circuit the scoreboard on Saturday, but he still made the game’s pivotal play when with just 24 seconds left he made a three-pointer to snap a tie and propel Fairmont to an attention-getting 73-66 conference win over the Rams.
Fairmont closed the back-and-forth game with the last seven points, dealing Shepherd an emotional loss and giving it a sweep of the two games the keen opponents had this season.
There were six lead changes and six ties, as the teams slugged it out in a match with few turnovers and few free throws.
Shepherd had shaken Fairmont with an 8-0 spurt of points that brought a 62-62 tie with just 2:28 to play.
Finding a few moments of scoring success itself, Fairmont used consecutive layups by Troy Cantrell to move just ahead at 66-62. But Shepherd’s Winston Burgess made his own close-in points, and when Derek McKnight converted two free throws, the game was back to even at 66-66.
That’s when the Shepherd Slayer, Jolly, went to work. Bringing the ball into the frontcourt, Jolly loosed a contested three-point shot with just 23 seconds remaining. Nobody on the Fairmont side was surprised when Jolly’s shot was true.
Vonte Montgomery, Fairmont’s leading scorer with 20 points, made a critical steal and got the ball to Jolly, who was fouled. He made two free throws, and Fairmont led, 71-66.
Kenzie Melko-Montgomery made another open-court steal for Fairmont . . . and his thunderous dunk closed the scoring and had his sideline and scattered clumps of followers jumping in place and yelling as they celebrated the outburst of team success at the very end.
It was Fairmont’s third straight win and improved its conference record to 11-1 and made the overall record read 14-4. Shepherd had its league record reduced to 6-6 and its overall mark read 10-8 with a game coming the other day against MEC co-leader West Liberty.
Burgess missed only three field goal attempts and scored 18 points.
Shepherd made all of its seven free throws and actually overcame a 38-32 halftime deficit.
But it was Jolly, who has been the focal point in most of Fairmont’s wins over Shepherd in his four years of handiwork, that once again supplied the game-changing moment with his late-game three-pointer.