Highland’s girls’ basketball team made key plays when it needed to in picking up a 55-40 home win over Northmor Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Scots pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn the win, but were able to maintain a small lead for virtually the entirety of the first three quarters.
A three-pointer by Savannah Fitzpatrick and buckets from Brylinn Tuggle, Emma West and Maddy Gordon helped stake the team to an early 10-5 lead, but Northmor threatened to go up at the end of the quarter. A basket by Emilee Jordan and two free throws from Lexi Wenger brought the Golden Knights within one with two minutes remaining in the opening period.
However, they would not score during that time Highland finished the first with a bucket from Fitzpatrick and opened the second with a shot by West to go back up by five at 14-9.
Scot coach Whitney Levering Smith said that she thought a big reason for her team getting big shots when they needed them was a recent focus on fundamentals.
“Honestly, I think it was because we were so focused on the little things,” she said. “When we focus on that, the big picture ends up turning out the way we want it to be.”
Both teams played evenly in the second quarter, as the Scots took a 24-20 lead into the locker room. Northmor rode some hot shooting to get within a 30-29 score midway through the third quarter, but couldn’t get over the hump. While Reagan Swihart hit two three-pointers in the quarter and Wenger added one, the team could only add three free throws to those nine points.
“We make too many mistakes,” said Northmor coach Freddy Beachy of his team’s mistakes. “That’s probably my fault. We throw the ball away and throw it to the other team. I guess I have to change my practice routine. It all comes down to the coach.”
After the Golden Knights got within one, Highland responded with baskets by Tuggle, Peyton Carpenter and Gordon to surge back in front by seven. They still led by six at 38-32 at the end of the quarter.
In the fourth, Northmor was able to rally within four points twice. However, Highland finished the game with a 13-2 run to pull away for the double-digit win.
Levering Smith was pleased with her team’s execution down the stretch, as they regularly went to inside players West and Gordon and got results doing so. West scored 10 in the fourth quarter and Gordon had five in the period and nine in the second half.
“We had some good finishes by our post players in the second half,” said the coach. “In the second half, we relied more on our post players.”
West finished with 18 points to lead all scorers, while Gordon had 12 for the Scots, Fitzpatrick added 10 and Tuggle tallied eight. Northmor got 13 from Wenger and 12 by Swihart.
Beachy said that his team will struggle unless they can get better at scoring with consistency.
“We just have a real hard time putting the ball in the basket,” he said. “Again, it’s stuff I have to work on in practice. It comes down on me.”
For Highland, Levering Smith is just happy to get 2021 off to a good start.
“Starting out 2021 at 1-0,” she said. “We needed that confidence boost. We’re focusing on our mental aspect and how we come out and play.”