SHORT GAP, W.Va. — If she has her way, Frankfort senior guard Abby Beeman will play three more games in a Falcons’ uniform this week at the state tournament.
That Beeman’s high school basketball career will conclude at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center is a big deal in itself and a fitting way to send off one of the state’s most prolific scorers in decades.
“It would be a travesty if Abby wouldn’t have found her way back to the state tournament with at least a chance to win a state championship,” Frankfort coach Michael Miller said. “She deserves it. She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen.”
The Falcons (20-4) are the No. 5 seed and will face No. 4 Lincoln (21-3) at 9 p.m. Thursday in a quarterfinal.
Beeman, a 5-foot-4 point guard, will have her work cut out against the Cougars, who will be playing in the state tournament for a fifth straight season.
“The key to them is they have two or three people who can also knock down shots so you can’t only concentrate on Beeman,” Lincoln coach Rob Hawkins said. “We’re going to have to try control her the best we can, but we can’t spend too much time worrying about her, because her teammates can also hurt us.”
The records and seeds of the Falcons and Cougars suggest a relatively even matchup, meaning Beeman may have to be at her best to prolong her prep career.
That’s something the Shepherd signee is plenty used to.
Beeman is coming off a 33-point performance on 11-of-20 shooting in a 71-59 Falcons’ victory over defending Class AA state champion North Marion in a Region I co-final. She was equally effective in both halves, pouring in 17 first-half points to key the Falcons to a 44-12 lead at halftime, before scoring 16 more in the second half to help thwart a Huskies’ rally.
All along, Beeman never backed down against one of the state’s most successful programs, and the only senior in the Falcons’ starting lineup helped her team get back to Charleston for a second straight season.
“I always play with a chip on my shoulder,” Beeman said. “I’m not in a hotbed, where everyone gets to see me all the time. We just try and do our thing here and I try to lead these girls to victory. They did their part too so I have to give them a lot of credit.”
Last season, Beeman led the Falcons to 19 wins, including one against then-defending Class AA state champion Fairmont Senior in a Region I co-final after she scored 32 points over the first three quarters.
Frankfort was also the No. 5 seed at the 2018 state tournament, and Beeman made a game-winning basket in the final seconds to lift her team to a 53-52 victory against Bridgeport in a quarterfinal.
Two days later, however, the Falcons squandered a 16-point third-quarter lead against North Marion and suffered a 63-54 loss despite 15 points and nine assists from Beeman.
That setback was still on Beeman’s mind when the Falcons eliminated the Huskies last week.
“We got the job done and we knew we wanted revenge from states last year, because we knew we should have had that game,” Beeman said. “We came out here ready to play and making shots and we knew no lead was safe because of that previous experience.”
Beeman, who became a 2,000-point scorer earlier this season, will likely see different looks from the Lincoln defense on Thursday as she contends with a Cougars’ backcourt featuring Hannah Ferris, Victoria Sturm and Madi Martin — a trio averaging nearly 33 points per game.
Then again, she’s seen just about everything an opposing defense can offer her, including various looks from the Huskies, who are regarded as one of the state’s better defensive teams.
Beeman used her speed and ball-handling to help negate the Huskies’ fullcourt defensive pressure. Once in the frontcourt, she attacked the basket with regularity, yet she was also able to drain five 3s that led to nearly half of her scoring output.
“I didn’t want it to end for her and nobody else did,” Miller said. “This game was for her.”