A strong defensive performance led Northmor’s girls’ basketball team to a sectional title at East Knox on Saturday.
In their 52-38 Division IV sectional victory, the Golden Knights held their opponents to single digit in each of the first three quarters and led for all but the first 2:23 of regulation.
“All the credit goes to the girls — I just stand on the sideline and yell,” said Northmor coach Freddy Beachy. “A lot of them, this is their first year of varsity.”
One of the team’s veterans, junior Lexi Wenger, got the team started. She scored the team’s first eight points. Reagan Swihart then finished the opening period with a three-pointer to stake Northmor to an 11-6 lead.
Northmor would get hot from long range in the second period. Brooke Dennison opened the period with a three-pointer. Then, with the score 16-10, the Golden Knights got three threes from Paige Caudill to help them open up a 27-10 advantage.
“We play them twice every year,” said Beachy of East Knox. “They’re very aggressive on defense, so they have a tendency to leave girls open.”
Being able to find the open shooter helped the Golden Knights hold a 29-14 lead going into the locker room. However, it was their defense that allowed them to still be up by double digits after the third quarter had ended. Northmor only connected on three free throws over those eight minutes, but still held a 32-18 advantage due to only giving up four points during that time.
“After the third, we just knew we had to be better disciplined,” said Wenger. “We were playing sloppy and turning the ball over. We had to get back to the basics and get back to being disciplined.”
While East Knox finally heated up in the final eight minutes, Northmor matched them point-for-point, as both teams tallied 20 during the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs were able to get back to within 12 points early in the period, but Wenger and Swihart tallied back-to-back baskets and the game wouldn’t be any closer than a 14-point margin the rest of the way.
Wenger led all scorers with 16 points, while Caudill connected three times from deep in scoring 13. Swihart finished with 11.
“It felt really good,” said Wenger of the win. “We’re back-to-back sectional champs. It feels good to get that win.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS