A game-ending three-pointer by Beth Hardwick gave Cardington’s girls a 56-53 road win against Northmor and spoiled a fourth quarter comeback bid by the Golden Knights.
The Pirates had opened up a 10-point lead over Northmor after the game was tied at 33 midway through the third quarter. They finished the period on an 11-2 run sparked by six Dana Bertke points and a three from Kambry Edwards to lead 44-35.
With just over four minutes left in regulation, the score was 48-38. However, Lexi Wenger would draw a foul that led to a Pirate technical. She would hit all four free throws and on the ensuing possession, Paige Caudill connected on a lay-up to make it a four-point game. Reagan Swihart would follow with a three-pointer to bring the Golden Knights within a 48-47 margin with 2:17 left.
Baskets by Mikayla Linkous and Emalee Artz widened the Cardington lead to 52-48, but Swihart responded with a three at the 32-second mark. Northmor would then foul Karsyn Edwards, who made one free throw to put the Pirates up by two. Swihart would then draw contact and turned that into a pair of made foul shots to tie things up at 53.
Cardington would be able to avoid overtime, though, finding Hardwick in the corner, where she drained a three to keep the Pirates perfect at 11-0, 7-0 in league play. Northmor now is 7-5, 4-3.
“We knew it’d be a better game (than Cardington’s 74-27 win in December), but didn’t know it’d be that much better,” said Cardington coach Jamie Edwards. “Beth was going to pop out and we drove and pulled it. We found Beth and bang! It was beautiful.”
While Northmor coach Freddie Beachy wasn’t going to accept a moral victory, he was pleased with how much his team improved in handling Cardington’s pressure, which played a huge role in the first game being so lopsided.
“I don’t believe in moral victories, so it’s still a loss,” he said. “It’s just that other teams pressure us and we work on it. Maybe they’re maturing. Most teams press us and we work on it.”
While Cardington led the majority of the game, great outside shooting by Northmor prevented the Pirates from ever having a safe advantage. Despite getting nine points by Hardwick and five from Kambry Edwards in the first quarter, Cardington only led 16-13 thanks to three long-range shots falling for Northmor. Caudill connected from deep twice and Brooke Dennison added one.
The Pirates opened the second quarter with four points from Hardwick and two contributed by Linkous to take a 22-13 lead, but would then only score two points over the next 5:20. During that span, both Emily Zeger and Caudill hit from three-point range and Swihart added a pair of free throws to narrow Northmor’s deficit to a 24-21 score.
Beachy felt that his team’s ability to keep the game close might have led to Cardington’s offensive struggles at times.
“I think it was frustrating for them because it was a close game,” he said. “They’re used to blowing teams out by halftime. We kept telling the girls the pressure’s not on us; it’s on them. They made some turnovers, but also made some nice shots when they had to.”
Cardington would get back-to-back shots from Artz and Linkous to lead 28-21 late in the half, but a Swihart three would make it a four-point game going into the intermission. Edwards was not surprised by Northmor’s success from deep, where they connected 11 times during the game.
“We scouted them and knew it’d be three, three, three,” he said. “They played a great game. We ran clock and made some turnovers we never make.”
Three-pointers by Swihart, Caudill and Dennison boosted Northmor to a 33-33 tie in the third quarter, but Cardington would finish the period with a flurry to set the stage for a dramatic fourth quarter.
Hardwick led Cardington with 20 points, while Kambry Edwards hit three three-pointers in scoring 11 and both Bertke and Linkous scored eight. Northmor’s Swihart led all scorers with 21 points, while Caudill scored 14. Both girls connected four times from three-point range.
After the game, both coaches looked at the game as a great way to get ready for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.
“I’m proud of the way they played,” said Beachy. “If they carry that intensity into the 10 or 11 remaining games, we should be alright.”
Edwards added: “That’s a tournament-type win right there. It was a tournament-type game for both of us and we’ll get better from this.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS