SULLIVAN -- Much was at stake in the battle between the Northview and Sullivan girls basketball squads on Friday night. For both teams, a chance at second place in the Western Indiana Conference was the biggest prize, but for each team, momentum heading into the final games before sectional action was also valuable. Perhaps to the Knights, a bit of revenge might have been on their minds as well.
With the Knights coming in as victors in nine of their past 10 games and the Golden Arrows sporting a healthy 16-3 mark and a nine game streak of their own, the stage was set for a titanic battle.
And for about a quarter and a half the game was shaping up to be a doozy. Then the Knights stepped up and made a statement to the rest of the area by throttling the Arrows with their interior defense and posted a surprisingly easy 50-40 win that wasn't as close as the score would indicate.
"I'm proud of our team tonight," said coach Bob Medworth. "We did a better job of moving the ball and kept our turnovers down."
Back in November, the Arrows had beaten the Knights 47-43 in the title game of the Clabber Girl Classic and had forced 26 Northview turnovers in the game.
On Friday night, Northview held onto the ball, turning the ball over just 12 times and got a powerful performance on the boards versus the versatile Arrows forwards.
The Knights jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead in the first quarter while outrebounding Sullivan five to zero with Julie Whitted scoring three quick baskets in the post.
The Arrows however made some adjustments and limited Whitted to just eight more points in the game but the Knights' offense has come a long way since November.
After Sullivan had tied the score on five quick points from Jessica Dugan, Northview got seven second quarter points from Lexee Hayes, who displayed confidence in her ability to drive to the basket and get scores for the Knights. Hayes tallied seven of her 18 points in the second period, several on short pull up jumpers and gave Northview a 26-19 lead at halftime.
The Knights held Sullivan to just seven-of-25 (28 percent) shooting in the half and outrebounded them 23-16.
Opening the third quarter, the Knights quickly alleviated any doubts about a letdown in the second half as Casey Challandes scored a quick basket on a putback and Hayes nailed one of two 3-pointers in the quarter. Northview would open up a 37-21 advantage on a score from McCrea and a pair of tallies from Whitted, who also pulled down 15 rebounds and blocked six shots.
"Our halfcourt defense was a lot better and we did a good job of getting out on the wings and not allowing them open 3-pointers," said Medworth. "I think our point guards showed a lot of guts tonight."
The Knights got five points from Challandes along with eight rebounds and her ball handling along with Jennifer Gregg and Hayes made a huge difference in the game's outcome. "I think (Sullivan) was surprised to see Lexee (Hayes) drive the ball as much as she did," said Medworth. "I know they didn't see much of that on tape."
While Sullivan missed eight of their first nine shots in the third period, the Knights had suddenly pulled out to a 16 point lead with just over three minutes remaining in the quarter. Hayes and Dugan would trade 3-pointers to end the quarter with Northview ahead 44-30.
Northview went into slow down mode in the fourth quarter to eat away at the clock and it did the job.
Sullivan whittled a bit off the Knights' lead, but much of it came with reserve players in the contest for Northview.
Northview got also got a 13 point, 10 rebound evening from Laura McCrea despite picking up two early fouls in the game.
The Knights advance to 13-6 overall and hold second place in the WIC with a 5-1 mark while Sullivan falls to 16-4 overall and 3-2 in the WIC.
Northview travels to Plainfield on Tuesday night for perhaps their biggest challenge of the season against the 14-4 Quakers who could also be a sectional opponent.
McCrea 6-9 1-2 13, Hayes 7-15 1-3 18, Gregg 0-6 0-0 0, Challandes 2-7 1-2 5, Whitted 7-17 0-1 14, Fulk 0-0 0-0 0, Spugnardi 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 22-56 3-8 50.
Bradford 3-10 2-3 8, Dugan 3-10 2-3 10, McKinley 6-9 0-1 12, Lahay 1-10 2-2 4, Moore 1-6 2-3 4, Smith 1-5 0-0 2, LeDune 0-0 0-0 0, Huff 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-50 8-12 40.
3-point fieldgoals -- Northview 3-8 (Hayes 3-8), Sullivan 2-10 (Dugan 2-6, McKinley 0-1, Smith 0-1, Moore 0-2). Total Rebounds -- Northview 42 (Whitted 15, McCrea 10, Challandes 8), Sullivan 29 (Lahay 10). Total Fouls -- Northview 12, Sullivan 14. Fouled out -- Sullivan (Lahay). Turnovers -- Northview 12, Sullivan 11.