Northmor’s girls’ basketball team was able to earn its first berth in the district semifinals in six years on Friday night, as the team was able to outlast Harvest Prep to earn a 42-38 win.
In improving to 13-10 on the year, the Golden Knights didn’t have it easy, as they needed to score four points over the final minute to break a 38-38 tie and squeak out the decision.
“Anything that could wrong did,” said head coach Freddy Beachy. “I think some of us were a little nervous and we had a week off, but we really needed that week off.”
Entering the final period, Northmor trailed 25-24, but got a basket and free throw from Lexi Wenger to quickly move back in front. Harvest Prep’s Jaela Curtis, who led her team with 15 points, responded with a three, but the Golden Knights got back-to-back shots from Wenger and Paige Caudill to lead by three at 31-28.
The teams would go back-and-forth for the majority of the game’s remaining five-plus minutes. Trailing 35-33 with four to play, Northmor got a big three-pointer from Taylor Linkous to go back in front. While Harvest Prep was able to tie the game two more times, they would not be able to regain the advantage.
With the score tied at 38 with just under a minute left, the Golden Knights got a basket from Caudill to lead by two. After thwarting the Harvest Prep offense, Reagan Swihart got the ball, drew a foul and hit both free throws to provide the game’s final points and send her team to Wednesday’s district semifinals against Newark Catholic at Westerville North.
“It seems like the fourth quarter is ours,” said Beachy. “They don’t quit and everyone who played contributed. I’m really proud of them.”
For most of the game, offense was hard to come by for both teams. Northmor only hit once from the floor on a Wenger basket in the opening period, but only trailed 7-6 after eight minutes thanks to two free throws each from Wenger and Caudill.
The locals would dominate the early stages of the second quarter, getting four points by Linkous, a three-pointer by Caudill and two points from Wenger in opening up a 15-7 advantage. However, they would only get a basket by Caudill over the final 3:30 of the period as their opponents crept back within a 17-15 score going into the half.
Curtis hit a pair of foul shots to tie the game early in the third, but Northmor got a basket from Caudill and a bucket and free throw by Wenger to regain the advantage at 22-17. Once again, the team would hit an offensive slump, though, as they were held to a Swihart basket over nearly six minutes.
Harvest Prep would take advantage of those struggles to lead by one going into the final quarter, but Northmor would finish the game strongly to advance.
The team got 16 points by Wenger and 13 from Caudill. The team also had good distribution, with both Swihart and Julianna Ditullio recording five assists.
“Every game, we have someone different stepping up,” said Beachy. “I have to remember that some of them are young and have growing pains, but today was our day.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS