With a five game winning streak on the line, Northview hosted the perennially powerful Martinsville Artesians for the first time since the 2000-01 season. The Artesians who came in with five losses on the season, four to teams ranked in the top-12 in Class 4A, are a possible sectional opponent for the Knights in February.
The Knights led by nearly double-digits in the first half and by a point starting the third quarter, but Martinsville would get a pair of late 3-pointers from senior Allison Lewis to hold off Northview 56-47.
"I'm really proud of the team tonight," said head coach Bob Medworth. "Before when big teams like (Martinsville) would come in we would have gotten run out of the gym. But tonight we played with heart. We're a growing program and this is a moral victory."
Whether you believe in moral victories or not, the Knights very nearly had a real victory over the Artesians on Thursday night and certainly proved they were a game opponent.
The Knights oppressive defense was in full effect in the first quarter, holding the Artesians to just one-of-14 shooting from the field. Martinsville missed all seven of their 3-pointers in the period as Northview gathered a 7-3 lead.
Lewis showed off her perimeter shooting in the second quarter, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers to get Martinsville within 12-9, but the Knights immediately went on a 6-0 run for an 18-9 lead.
Junior center Julie Whitted hauled down 14 first half rebounds with eight points to limit Martinsville's second-chance points. Jennifer Gregg added seven points in the second quarter.
The Artesians would close the period on a 17-7 run by hitting four-of-six 3-pointers and held a 26-25 lead.
The Knights would open the second half with a basket from Whitted to take a brief 27-26 lead, but the Artesians went to a full court press and the Martinsville depth began to wear on Northview's guards.
The Knights turned the ball over 11 times in the third period, many due to mental mistakes rather than Martinsville's pressure. Northview got off just eight shots in the quarter compared to 19 for the Artesians.
"We were able to get a hand in their face in the first half," commented Medworth. "That's been our success all season. We were forced to go to man-to-man (defense) on them to pressure their shooters. That was a real challenge for us."
Junior forward Jessica Breeden did much of the third quarter damage for Martinsville, tallying nine of her 11 points in the period. Meanwhile the Knights' turnovers didn't allow Northview to get back into their halfcourt defense. The Artesians transition game was responsible for much of a 13-0 run that gave Martinsville a 41-29 lead. After a Whitted basket, the Artesians grabbed momentum again as Lewis drilled a 23-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 44-31 lead.
But the Knights would come roaring back.
The Knights would go to the 6'5 Whitted inside to make their comeback.
She would score the first three baskets of the period and both Jennifer Gregg and Laura McCrea each hit one-of-two free throws before Whitted scored once more to complete a 10-0 Northview run to get within 44-41.
But with 4:08 left in the game, McCrea would foul out and the Artesians depth began to assert itself.
Lewis scored to halt the Knights' streak, but Lexee Hayes responded with a huge 3-pointer to close the gap to 46-44 with 2:40 left. But Lewis would drive the first dagger into Northview's heart with a 3-pointer of her own to quiet the crowd.
Whitted would follow with one free throw to get the Knights within 49-45 with two minutes remaining but Lewis nailed another 3-pointer to push the lead to 52-45. Despite another basket by Whitted, part of her 23 point, 19 rebound evening, Lewis would sink four free throws in the closing moments to finish off the game.
"We probably changed our offense a little too late," admitted Medworth afterwards. "With (Julie Whitted) in the game we don't run and press as much. But we had a lot of success late with her."
Whitted had 11 fourth quarter points along with four rebounds and two blocks.
"Jennifer (Gregg) and Lexee (Hayes) did a pretty good job getting the ball up the floor tonight and Julie (Whitted) had a lot of hustle tonight."
The Knights fall to 8-6 overall with a Tuesday night game at home versus Danville beginning at 6 p.m.
In the junior varsity game the Knights fell 42-22 despite eight points from Kayla Harlan.
Gluff 0-7 0-1 0, Bunton 1-3 0-0 3, Cramer 0-3 0-0 0, Lewis 6-10 5-6 22, Breeden 5-16 1-1 11, Ma.Schwab 3-8 0-0 7, Engle 2-5 0-0 4, Gwaltney 0-2 0-0 0, DeMott 3-7 3-4 9. Totals: 20-58 9-12 56.
McCrea 1-3 2-4 4, Hayes 3-8 0-0 8, Gregg 3-10 1-4 8, Challandes 0-6 0-0 0, Spugnardi 2-2 0-0 4, Whitted 10-19 3-4 23, Plummer 0-0 0-0 0, Birkey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-48 6-12 47.
3-point fieldgoals -- Martinsville 7-18 (Lewis 5-9, Breeden 0-1, Gwaltney 0-1, Ma.Schwab 1-2, Bunton 1-3, Cramer 0-2), Northview 3-8 (Hayes 2-6, Gregg 1-2). Total Rebounds -- Martinsville 28 (Breeden 6), Northview 34 (Whitted 19). Total Fouls -- Martinsville 15, Northview 14. Fouled out -- Martinsville (None), Northview (McCrea, Gregg). Turnovers -- Martinsville 20, Northview 23.