Benjamin Russell looked the better team after three quarters against Wetumpka Thursday.

The Wildcats opened the night’s preceding with an 18-point first period and carried their early edge through another 16 minutes of game action.

But the fourth quarter is where the Indians made their pass.

Behind the efforts of Janae McCall and a handful of others, Wetumpka girls basketball went from a six-point deficit to open the fourth to a six-point victory by the time it closed and grabbed a win in its first area contest of the season.

“We started out a little slow tonight, couldn’t get our groove, couldn’t get a rhythm going,” Wetumpka coach Jermel Bell said. “Finally after halftime we started going on run after run, and eventually, things started falling our way. We got a couple bounces, and the game changed a little bit.”

Benjamin Russell dropped to 0-2 in area play with the loss. Latreisha Moon, the team’s head coach, fell ill during the second quarter of the game and had to take a backseat for the second half.

McCall went on a hunt Thursday.

The prey was points for Wetumpka’s star guard, and she feasted on the evening, collecting 29 of them including a pair of 3-pointers and seven made free throws to establish an inside-out game that spurned the Indians onward.

Much like the team, she got stronger as the game went on.

“She was missing some easy buckets [at the beginning],” Bell said. “She just kept fighting, kept fighting, the fighter that she is. She kept coming and eventually her shots started falling on the inside, she started making some easy baskets.” 

McCall added 15 rebounds to her gaudy scoring numbers. She received plenty of help from fellow guard Zariah Fannin, who picked up 19 points and 11 boards of her own.

Guards Tylicia Calhoun and Tayla Russell picked up 12 and 11 points, respectively, to lead the scoring for Benjamin Russell.

“We played hard until there were like three minutes left in the game,” Moon said. “We led the whole game. In the end, we turned the ball over too many times. We missed a couple of critical layups.

“She did what she was supposed to do and she led the team tonight. She put us on her back and she took control.”

The inside half of McCall’s inside-out game was most prevalent during the pivotal fourth quarter.

She got to the line six times in the final quarter and hit all six, adding two layups on the inside for a 10-point period. 

McCall finished the contest with seven straight makes at the charity stripe after an 0-for-7 start. As a team the Indians started 1-for-10 from the line before going 10-for-13 in the fourth.

“It’s that old cliche that all coaches say, ‘We’ve got to make free throws if we want to win the ball game,’” Bell said. “You’ve got to get up there, you’ve got to take a breath and relax and shoot them. They actually did what we asked them to do. We work a lot on wearing our girls out in practice and shooting free throws while they’re tired.”

Benjamin Russell and Wetumpka both continue area play in their next games, with the Indians welcoming Stanhope Elmore Saturday and the Wildcats doing the same Tuesday.

“Overall we played well and hard,” Moon said. “We are playing better now and I really believe that we are going in the right direction.”