A big run to end the second quarter staked host Northmor to a lead over the Mount Gilead girls and the team was able to make enough plays down the stretch to hold off their county rivals and pick up a 49-47 win.
“I give it to the girls because nobody’s giving us a chance because of what we lost,” said Northmor coach Freddie Beachy. “I don’t’ care what kind of coach you have, you can’t coach heart and the girls have it. They make mistakes and they own up to it and just turn around and create another turnover or get a rebound.”
The win proved to be a big one for Northmor, as it put them into a tie for second place in the KMAC with the Indians, with both teams just behind Cardington in the race for the league title.
Northmor jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind shots by Emily Zeger and Madison Simpson, but two three-pointers by Madilyn Elson and a pair of buckets by Candace Millisor put the Indians up 10-4. Northmor rallied behind the outside shooting of Lauren and Riley Johnson to tie the game behind a three-pointer from both players.
Two free throws by Aubrey Thomas would give MG the lead at 12-10 after the quarter, though. Mount Gilead would then open up a 21-13 lead near the midway point of the second quarter. However, Northmor would dominate the final 4:30 of the half to take the lead into the locker room.
Simpson hit a basket to start the team’s run and then Riley Johnson hit back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game and Emilee Jordan and Lauren Johnson added baskets to make it 25-21 in favor of the Golden Knights.
“I said, ‘Man, you guys battled back, you didn’t quit and we have a lead,” said Beachy. “For the next two quarters, I told them the old cliche, it’s 0-0.”
MG coach Nick Vukovich felt that his team got away from how they play in that second quarter.
“The second quarter was huge for us,” he said. “We didn’t play it very well. We didn’t communicate. We didn’t do the things that make us who we are. We got away from that. What you saw in the second half was us being the team we normally are and that’s why you saw us basically claw our way back into it.”
Another three by Riley Johnson made it a 28-21 game early in the third quarter, but MG would rally. Two shots by both Millisor and Elson brought the team within a 31-29 score before a three from Lauren Johnson extended the Northmor lead to five points.
In the fourth quarter, MG made run after run at Northmor, but just couldn’t get over the hump in a period that Vukovich wished had gotten called al title more tightly.
“We’re driving, we’re going to the basket aggressively and we’re getting fouled,” he said. “Nothing’s being called. I told my girls Northmor has six fouls with like four minutes, five minutes left in the fourth quarter. I said get to the bucket. I’ve got girls laying on the ground with nothing being called. It’s just one of those things where I thought it could have been done a lot differently from an official standpoint, but it is what it is.”
The coach added that his team needed to play a lot more cleanly, as well.
“We had shots, we had lay-ups to make. We had a bunch of other stuff. We had turnovers we normally don’t do that we were doing. So all that stuff adds up.”
The Indians were able to get as close as 39-38 after back-to-back shots from Faith White and Elson, but Northmor bounced back with buckets from both Riley and Lauren Johnson. Beachy noted that those two, as well as the other two seniors, Zeger and Jordan, put in a lot of work during the summer that is paying off now.
“I’ve had a couple girls, the four seniors, that came to everything in the summer,” he said. “They come in, they shoot and it’s just heart. I’m a firm believer you get out what you put into it.”
After a basket by White made it a three-point game at 43-40, Northmor got a basket by Simpson and a three from Riley Johnson to open up an eight-point lead with under two minutes left. While MG would continue to battle down the stretch, they would not be able to completely overcome that deficit.
Mount Gilead got 15 points from Elson, who hit three three-pointers; while White scored 12. Long-range shooting paved the way for Northmor. Riley Johnson hit six three-pointers in lead all scorers with 20, while Lauren Johnson added two more threes in scoring 13. Vukovich felt his team struggled to contain the Golden Knight shooters.
“That goes back to our communication aspect that we preach every day in practice,” he said. “We have to be talking on defense. We have to be moving when the ball is in the air. If we’re standing still, we’re doing something wrong. That falls on us. That’s a defensive area we’ll need to fix.”
Now, for Northmor, every league game is a big one as his team will attempt to move into first place in the league — with a Saturday game at Cardington being huge in that aspect.
“We let one slip against Cardington,” said Beachy. “We’re not going to sneak up on anybody now. I think people know we can play. Those girls can play. They can play defense. We can shoot. We can take some bad shots, but I’ll live with it.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS