Finally the IHSAA gave Northview's girls program just a bit of a break in their sectional draw, not a big one, but one nonetheless.
The Knights will get to rest after Thursday's regular season ending victory over Bloomfield, until next Friday because they received the first round bye into the semifinals. Unfortunately, that game is against host Mooresville who in recent years has been a perennially powerful opponent.
"Well we knew we'd have to play one of them," said Northview head coach Bob Medworth. "Martinsville, Mooresville and Plainfield all have to be considered at the top of the sectional so unless your extremely lucky in your scheduling, you'll have to beat one or more of them."
Northview is no stranger to the Pioneers after opening the year with a 61-29 defeat to the 14-7 Mooresville program. However, in the Knights' defense, they are a much different team than the one the Pioneers pressed into submission back in November.
In that contest, the Knights were working in a pair of new point guards in Jennifer Gregg and Lexee Hayes who hadn't seen much time against the pressure of varsity competition, let alone the Pioneer press.
The inexperience showed as Northview lost the ball 33 times via turnover and trailed 42-9 by halftime as Mooresville took 30 shots to the Knights' 12. Struggling each trip down the floor to get into their offense, Northview had little to answer a much more experienced Mooresville lineup.
Much has changed since then for the Knights with players settling into the roles that are needed to make the team successful. The Knights have hung their hat on their defense this year holding many of their opponents to their fewest offensive totals of the season. Northview is averaging nearly seven steals per game with Jennifer Gregg pilfering almost two per game and another four players who average more than one per contest.
In the middle, 6'5 junior Julie Whitted is a player who teams must plan their game around. She's blocking more than four shots per game and hauling down 10 rebounds per contest as well as leading the team in scoring at 16 per game.
Her presence in the paint for the Knights forces teams into shots they normally wouldn't take, and moving opposing post players away from the basket to avoid the blocked shot.
Whitted will have to be more effective than she was in the first game of the year when she scored just 12 points and got just a handful of rebounds. However, Whitted should have a perimeter game that was missing early in the season to help open up the middle versus the Pioneers.
Sophomore guard Lexee Hayes is coming off a six-of-seven shooting performance from 3-point range that should certainly boost her confidence beyond the arc. She's also displayed the ability to get to the basket on the drive of late and she also shoots more than 70 percent from the free throw line.
She's averaging more than 15 points per game over the last five games of the season and gives the Knights another talented scoring option to complement Whitted's inside presence.
Senior forward Laura McCrea has also developed into a reliable inside option for the Knights, averaging nine points per game and contributing over four rebounds per game. She'll need to be a factor on both ends of the court to help neutralize the inside presence of 6'2 Caitlin Dougherty and 5'11 center Heather Harper. The two combined for 26 points and 11 rebounds in the first matchup.
Obviously, the biggest key will be how the Knights handle the Mooresville pressure.
Northview's guard rotation of Hayes, Gregg and senior Casey Challandes will need perhaps their best game of the season and can't allow the Pioneer pressure take their focus away from getting the ball into scoring position for the Knights. Once the Pioneers take your focus away from scoring, to just holding onto the ball, then your already beaten.
The Knights have come a long way since the beginning of the year, just how far will be found out on Friday night.