After building a 16-point lead early in the third quarter, the Northmor Golden Knights watched Mount Gilead’s girls gradually whittle away at it until they’d gone in front midway through the third quarter.
In picking up a 46-43 win, Northmor went back to what had been working earlier in the contest: the three-pointer. Trailing 41-39 with under four to play, The Golden Knights got a long-range shot from Lexi Wenger. After an Indian bucket from Madilyn Elson put her team back up 43-42, a three by Reagan Swihart gave Northmor a two-point lead with 1:23 left and her team would hold on to claim the decision.
“We’ve survived the last two,” said Northmor coach Freddie Beachy, referring to last Friday’s win over East Knox where the Golden Knights also withstood a late comeback bid. “I told them in there, these close games, I hope they make us better. We just have to get better every game.”
For a good chunk of the game, it didn’t look like Northmor would need to survive down the stretch to pick up the decision. After a back-and-forth first quarter in which both teams scored 13 points, the Golden Knights put together a strong second quarter to take a commanding lead thanks to hot shooting from outside.
After getting two three-pointers from Brooke Dennison and one from Reagan Swihart in the first period, Northmor lived on that shot in the second.
With the score tied at 15, Paige Caudill hit from long range. After one free throw from Greer Simpson, Dennison and Caudill went back-to-back from deep to stake Northmor to a 24-16 lead. Lauren Johnson and Swihart would add threes late in the quarter and the Golden Knights led 32-22 going into the half.
“In the first half, they were on fire and we didn’t do a good job defending the three,” said MG coach Bob Scott. “Give the kids credit. We fought back. Offensively, we were significantly better than in the last one. We’re just figuring out how to score. They have a bunch of seniors and we have a lot without varsity experience. When you go up against a hot-shooting team, you can’t relax.”
Dennison and Wenger opened the third quarter with three-pointers to increase Northmor’s lead to a 38-22 score. However, the team would go ice cold for nearly 10 minutes of action, only getting one free throw during that stretch.
Mount Gilead would take advantage.
Faith White hit from the field and Lydia Stalnaker followed with a three. One free throw by White brought it back within 10 at 38-28. After Northmor scored once from the charity stripe, the Indians got a basket from White, a three-pointer from Aubrey Thomas and a free throw from Grace Shipman to go into the fourth only down 39-34.
“They’re scrappy,” said Beachy of the Indians. “I think they wanted it a little bit more than we did. But we have five wins now and last year didn’t get our fifth until the last game of the year.”
One free throw from Elson and two from Shipman brought MG within two. Shipman would then tie the game from the field and an Elson bucket with 4:07 remaining gave the Indians their first lead since late in the opening period.
However, Northmor would heat up again from the field and would be able to ride two more three-pointers to the win.
Scott felt his team can learn a lot from being able to nearly complete a big comeback against a more experienced squad.
“What we learned from that is we have to play with that intensity the entire game,” he said. “If you lose intensity for a bit, it can go from down six to down 12. We have to keep working on that.”
As for Beachy, whose team hit 12 three-pointers on the night, the only thing that mattered was the end result.
“Close games, we’ll take them,” he said. “We’re getting better. This is a rivalry for these girls. Any win, we’ll take it. I don’t care how we win as long as we win.”
Dennison’s 12 points on four threes led the Golden Knights, while Wenger added 11, Swihart scored nine on three three-pointers and Caudill finished with eight. For Mount Gilead, White tallied 10 and Elson finished with nine.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS