Visiting Mount Gilead built a big third-quarter lead over Northmor in a Wednesday night KMAC girls’ basketball game and was able to hold on for a 50-45 victory.
The Lady Indians improved to 7-8 overall, 3-7 in league play with the win in a game where they led most of the way, but struggled to put the Golden Knights away.
“It’s better than the alternative,” said MG coach Bob Scott of the hard-fought win. “We’ve been in a lot of close games early and had a couple in a row.”
Both teams shot the ball well in the early going. After Lydia Stalnaker opened the game with a three-pointer for the Indians, Northmor (8-8, 5-6) got a basket from Lexi Wenger and a pair of Reagan Swihart free throws to take a 4-3 lead. The teams would trade the advantage throughout the opening period. With the score tied at nine, Northmor got a basket and free throw from Wenger and a bucket by Emily Zeger to lead 14-9.
However, MG finished the quarter with a 9-2 run. Madilyn Elson brought the team within two with a three-pointer — her team’s fourth of the first quarter – and then, with the score 16-12 after an Emilee Jordan basket, MG got scores from Stalnaker, Elson and Faith White to hold an 18-16 lead after the opening period.
“That always helps when you come out shooting like that,” said Scott of his team’s hot shooting. “We’ve been doing more shooting in practice and some other kids have been stepping up and starting to make them.”
After a back-and-forth opening period, the Indians led throughout the second quarter, holding the Golden Knights to seven points over those eight minutes, with Wenger tallying five of that number on two baskets and a free throw.
Northmor coach Freddie Beachy said that one big problem his team has been having recently is that teams are working to take away one of their main weapons — the three-pointer.
“We haven’t been on track in over a week and a half,” he said. “We’ve got to make shots in the paint. Everyone’s figured it out. We shoot threes and win or we don’t and lose.”
Scott agreed that was part of his defensive plan.
“Last time, they had 36 of their 46 from three-point range,” he said. “We didn’t want that to happen again.”
Leading 28-23 entering the third quarter, MG opened up some breathing room. Four points by Greer Simpson and three from Aubrey Thomas helped the Indians open the period with an 11-3 run to give them a 39-26 lead with 4:52 left in the quarter.
However, Northmor’s defense would hold them scoreless until Stalnaker hit a pair of free throws in the final second of the period. During that time, the Golden Knights picked up eight straight points with Paige Caudill, Wenger, Dennison and Swihart all hitting a pair of free throws.
One free throw by Wenger to open the fourth quarter brought her team within a 41-35 margin, but they would not be able to get any closer until the very end of the game. The Indians made a few shots to maintain an advantage in the early going and got a couple huge rebounds late in the game off missed free throws to keep possession of the ball and run more clock.
“Sometimes you get to the fourth with a 10-point lead and the clock can’t run fast enough,” said Scott of those rebounds. “It helps to get those extra possessions.”
Elson led Mount Gilead with 17 points, while both Thomas and Stalnaker finished with 10. Northmor got 16 from Wenger, with Dennison adding 10 and Swihart contributing nine.
Beachy is currently looking for a way to right the ship for his team.
“We had way too many turnovers,” he said. “We’ve just got to get tougher. I have to figure something out because we should be getting better and not declining.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS