Girls high school basketball is a long season, filled with emotional highs and lows as well as lulls in intensity and focus.
Tournament basketball is different. The intensity, emotion and focus have to be in sync, or look to next year and some second guessing.
The Elgin Lady Comets relied on their size and physical play to end Northmor’s season 36-31 Saturday for the Division III sectionals. It was Elgin’s third win of the season over Northmor and it didn’t come easy.
“We knew it was going to be hard fought, every time we played them it was hard fought,” said Elgin head coach Bill McElroy.
Each team’s style of play became apparent early in the game. Elgin fed the ball inside for baskets in the paint, while Northmor tried to push the ball up the floor looking to penetrate and kick the ball out for an open shot.
Elgin was more effective in the first half. The Comets were able to overcome an aggressive Northmor defense, that collapsed its defense whenever the ball entered the lane, and take a 23-11 lead into the locker room.
The Lady Comets were propelled by a 17 point second quarter. Alanna Wiseman and Tailor Wolf combined for 15 first half points for Elgin.
Northmor was unable to find a consistent shooting touch from the perimeter, only connecting on five of 29 attempts in the half. Much of that was due to Elgin’s decided height advantage.
“We played hard,” said Northmor head coach Darrel Uhde. “Their length killed us and we didn’t shoot well, the length altered our shots.”
The Lady Comets blocked three Northmor shots in the first half and influenced many more.
“Our height is our big advantage, they have to shoot over us a lot,” McElroy said.
Karlee Carroll scored all six of Northmor’s second quarter points.
Northmor played the second half like a team whose season was on the line. They attacked Elgin’s zone defense and pressured the ball.
“At the half we talked about stopping and shooting or stopping and kicking out instead of driving,” said Uhde. “We can’t go in for layups against this team, stop and hit the 10-12 footer. Penetrate and kick, it’s a zone.”
The Lady Knights used a full court press and very physical play to outscore Elgin 20-13 over the game’s final two periods.
The press was very effective against Elgin.
“We didn’t react very well to their press,” McElroy said. “I thought that they took a lot away from us on that press, we just didn’t react and a couple of girls just got panic stricken.”
The effort wasn’t enough to overcome a slow start in the first half and a poor shooting performance, 22 percent from the field overall.
Uhde reflected his coaching: “The only regret I have, the only second guessing of (me), is that we should have used the press the whole game. Our speed and quickness is our advantage and I didn’t use it.”
Tailor Wolf led Elgin with 10 points a three blocked shots, Meridith Cocherl had eight points and 9 rebounds, while Alanna Wiseman scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Carroll led Northmor with 13 points and eight rebounds. Karalee Patterson and Christianna Boggs each scored seven points for the Lady Knights.
Northmor ends its season at 12-11.
Connect with Tanchevski on Twitter at @mtan62.