Visiting T-Birds present challenge for Knights

Friday, January 24, 2003

After a week of rest, recuperation and practices, the Northview Knights get to hit the court versus the North Central Thunderbirds tonight.

The contest should be the Knights biggest test since a home tilt with WIC foe Edgewood back on Dec. 21. In that game, Northview came from behind to win 57-53 and extend their winning streak to five games. Since then, the Knights have extended their school record winning streak to eight and their record to an exciting 12-4 overall and are occupying the top spot in the WIC with a 5-0 mark.

But North Central comes into the game with an 11-2 mark and have won 11 of their last 12 game. Losing to only Marshall, Ill by a single point in overtime.

Leading the way for the Thunderbirds are a pair of high-scoring seniors in Megan Haag and Rebekah Forsythe.

The 5'10 Forsythe will be a prime concern for Northview's defenders since she is averaging over 23 points a game, good for 10th in the state. Teams have tried to double and triple team her according to Thunderbird coach Trent Olson, but what makes his team good is their depth. "Most people talk about our two main scorers (Haag and Forsythe) but we basically go eight deep in our rotation. That's a strength of ours. Everyone has faith in each other getting the job done."

With teams collapsing inside on Forsythe often, Haag has stepped up with her shooting as Clay City could attest to in their loss on Dec. 16, 72-42.

Forsythe had 28 points, including 10-of-13 from the line while Haag rang up another 25 points with a pair of 3-pointers. No other Thunderbird scored more than six points that game. But the prospect of trying to handle both players is a difficult proposition for most coaches, Northview head coach Bob Medworth included, "We're not going to be able to let Forsythe touch the ball whenever she wants to," he said.

North Central will have their own things to worry about though with Northview's inside threat of 6'5 freshman Julie Whitted and outside guard Whitney Medworth. "We know the Medworth girl is talented and of course the 6'5 girl is going to cause all sorts of matchup problems," said Olson.

Whitted has been a nightmare for teams as the season has progressed. As she's become more comfortable inside and a bit more aggressive Whitted has been tough to handle for opposing defenses. In three January games so far she has averaged 21 points and 11 boards while shooting 67 percent (31-of-46) from the field.

Meanwhile on the outside, Medworth has averaged 12.8 points a game while nailing 29 3-pointers at a 38 percent clip. Amy Thiemann has knocked down 14 more for the Knights who have 49 this year. Medworth has also done a good job distributing the ball with five assists per game.

The Thunderbirds are most comfortable in a transition game but have familiarity with the half court as well according to coach Olson. "We've played both styles," he said. "We like to be in more of a full court game, but we've played teams who like to slow it down. But we feel we can play either way."

Coach Medworth believes that his team needs to do several things to get another victory tonight. "On offense we need to display patience with no turnovers and our rebounding needs to improve." Olson has had some close calls with teams that the Thunderbirds perhaps should have handled more easily. "We tend to play to our competition. We feel like if we come out and take care of our game we'll be okay."

If the Thunderbirds come out and play to their competition this evening, fans could be in for another big game. Coach Medworth believes the crowd will be important. "I hope there are a lot of people there. Our kids are looking forward to (the game). The crowd really helps, it inspires the kids."

Junior varsity tipoff will be at 6 p.m.

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