Jan. 24—SHORT GAP, W.Va. — It took nearly three quarters, but Petersburg's press eventually broke Frankfort.
The Falcons used a 14-2 run to trail just 39-38 midway through the third period, but the Vikings turned up their full court pressure and ended the quarter on a 7-0 burst and quickly built a double-digit lead in the fourth.
Frankfort hung around longer than many expected, but, fueled by a 22-point effort from freshman Miley Tingler, No. 5 Petersburg led by as many as 16 points in a 64-53 road victory on Tuesday night.
"This has always been a tough place for us to go and get a win, so we're happy to get one tonight," Petersburg head coach Jon Webster said. "I thought there were times we played really well, but I thought there were times where we let down a little bit.
"We're trying to find ways to be more consistent as we move into the end of the year."
The victory was Petersburg's eighth in nine games after a 2-4 start and pushed them to 10-5. Frankfort, which also fell to the Vikings 54-41 on Jan. 5 in Grant County, fell to 2-11 after its ninth straight loss.
Frankfort's 53 points were its most since a 59-24 win against Berkeley Springs on Dec. 15, which was also its most recent victory.
Despite the loss Tuesday, there were some encouraging signs for the Falcons.
"We were able to score some points," Frankfort head coach Steve Willison said. "We just gave up too much. We panicked and had too many turnovers out of the press.
"The first quarter was pretty close, and the last few minutes of the third quarter they started walking away from us. It was hard to catch up from then."
Three Falcons finished in double figures, led by Adison Pritts with 12 points. Jillian Ault and Carlee Kesner tallied 10 each, and Brooklyn Klavuhn added eight. Frankfort's bench outscored Petersburg, 18-9.
Before Petersburg finally earned some separation, Frankfort led after the first quarter 13-12 and remained within two possessions during the entire second quarter until Abby Alt banked in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer before halftime.
Alt's triple, her second of the half, gave Petersburg a 31-24 edge entering the locker room. It was its largest of the game up to that point.
Petersburg then started the second half with a 6-0 flurry to lead 37-24. All six points were scored by Tingler, who tallied 13 of her team-high total following the intermission.
"Miley has been getting better every game for us," Webster said. "She's a freshman that's learning how to play. I think the month of December was a big learning curve for her, but she's starting to get more comfortable."
That's when Frankfort answered with a 12-point swing that pulled it within 39-38.
The Falcons' zone defense with 6-foot-2 forwards Klavuhn and Madi Ruble down low shut down Petersburg's slashers, and the Vikings settled for jump shots.
"We feel like if you're in their face, they don't shoot as well," Willison said. "They're pretty good shooters, but we left that freshman (Tingler) wide open a bunch on the baseline because we were pushing out on top on (Nellie Whetzel). And (Tingler) knocked it down over and over."
Petersburg was able to get to the foul line with regularity after halftime, but the Vikings opened the second half with nine consecutive misses from the charity stripe.
Petersburg finished 16 for 30 from the line.
"We know that in a close game, that's going to be what makes or breaks it for us," Webster said of the foul shooting woes. "Tonight, fortunately we were able to have enough of a cushion that those free throws didn't have a negative impact."
Petersburg finally broke free of Frankfort when its pressure defense strung together a series of steals, which then led to easy buckets in transition.
The Vikings, who led 47-38 after three, never led by fewer than nine points during the decider and their lead topped out at 16.
"We did a better job of getting out and getting looks in transition," Webster said of the Vikings' second-half run. "And when we did get in transition, we finished them. We had some opportunities early in transition, and we turned it over, or we missed a shot. That really slowed us down in the first half."
In addition to Tingler's big night, Alt joined her in double figures with 10 points. Sam Colaw scored nine points, and Addison Kitzmiller and Whetzel added seven each.
Frankfort will look to bounce back when it hosts county rival No. 4 Keyser (8-5) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Petersburg hopes its improved play continues when it heads to Pendleton County on Thursday night.
"We had a tough start to the season and some difficult opponents at the beginning of the year," Webster said. "We lost a few early that kind of had our confidence down.
"We're starting to play a little bit better, and I think the girls are starting to gain some confidence. We're starting to get a better feel for who we are as a team and understand what our identity is.
"Excited to see what we have in store for the last eight regular season games."
Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.