The Northmor girls’ basketball team struggled to contain Cardington’s height on Thursday, as the Pirates jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter and added to it throughout a 68-32 win in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play.

As Cardington dominated the early stages of the game, taking a 17-2 lead five minutes into the opening period, they were getting a lot of support from their posts as 6’1” Kyndall Spires tallied 10 points and 6’2” Casey Bertke added two more.

Head coach Jamie Edwards noted that with talent both in the post and at the guard positions, his team’s offensive plan was set up by Northmor’s defense.

“We didn’t know if they’d go man or zone,” he said. “When we came out, we were guessing what they’d do. When they went man, it was ‘feed, feed, feed’ and we got good high-percentage shots for everyone.”

The Knights were able to finish the first on a 9-4 run, though, to close within 10 points. Lydia Farley and Karalee Patterson hit baskets to end an 11-0 Cardington run. After the Pirates boosted their lead to 21-8, Patterson finished the quarter with a three-pointer.

Northmor got within seven points on a Cristianna Boggs’ three-pointer in the second quarter, as the Knights played shutout defense for the opening three minutes of the period.

“In the second quarter, we went zone and put Becca (Duckworth) and Brooke (Bennett) in and slowed them down a bit,” said Northmor coach Daryl Uhde.

However, Cardington would respond, holding Northmor to four points over the final five minutes of the half, while tallying 23 of their own. Spires scored six points, all on cutbacks, while Kynlee Edwards added six more, Sage Brannon picked up five, Bertke scored four and Alex Maceyko added a basket as the Pirates took a 44-18 lead into the half.

Coach Edwards noted that after a Tuesday loss to Ontario, he felt he’d relied too much on his starters, so he made a point to get the bench players more time.

“We used our bench a little more,” he said. “I think we overplayed our first group against Ontario and weren’t able to have Kynlee in the fourth due to double leg cramps. The bench came in and did a great job tonight.”

Cardington was able to add to their lead in the third quarter. While Maddie Swihart hit a pair of three-pointers for the Knights, they were unable to score any other points. Meanwhile, the Pirates got four each from Bertke and Paige Clinger and two more from Brannon in opening up a 55-24 advantage.

Uhde noted the thing that displeased him most about the game was the number of turnovers committed by his players against Cardington’s length, which led to the team suffering lengthy scoring droughts.

“We had people open, but when you’re this tall and they’re that tall, it’s hard to see,” he said. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes and see how we come back against Centerburg — that’s the key.”

The fourth quarter played out in much the same way. While the Knights had their moments, getting six points from Bennett and two from Swihart, they also suffered through a three-minute drought during which Cardington scored 10 points, five by Brannon and four more from Bertke.

For the game, Cardington had four players in double digits, which pleased their coach. Spires led with 17, while Brannon tallied 15 and both Bertke and Edwards added 14. Edwards and Brannon also combined for five three-pointers.

“We were super-balanced again — I think we had four girls with double figures,” said Jamie Edwards. “Through three games, we’ve had four with double figures twice and three with double figures once. They’re putting up points with a lot of balance. It’s like last year — who do you stop?”

For Northmor, Swihart led the team with 10 points.

Kyndall Spires goes above the Northmor defense to get two of her game-high 17 points Thursday. Spires goes above the Northmor defense to get two of her game-high 17 points Thursday. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Brooke Bennett releases a shot for Northmor in action from Thursday’s game with Cardington. Bennett releases a shot for Northmor in action from Thursday’s game with Cardington. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

By Rob Hamilton

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Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS