(Top) Lexee Hayes flashes past Mooresville's Lauren Kenney for a first half basket on her way to 10 points for the Knights and (Bottom) the Knights celebrate as (from l-r) Julie Whitted hugs Spring Raines as senior Brittney Spugnardi enjoys the victory.
TERRE HAUTE -- Emotions were sky high after Northview's girls downed Class 4A No. 3 Martinsville in their sectional opener so you might forgive the Knights for being a bit emotionally spent as their semifinal game against Mooresville tipped off.
And when the Knights struggled with early turnovers against the Pioneers and fell behind in the first quarter, you could feel Northview fans take a collective breath.
Then the Knights found the mojo that sparked them against the Artesians.
Northview gathered themselves and took it to the Pioneers putting together a late first quarter rally to tie the score at 14-apiece and then kept up the pace on the way to another stunning sectional win, this one a 48-39 victory that advances them to the sectional title game tonight at 7:30 p.m.
"This feels good," said coach Bob Medworth of his team's win. "I'm kind of numb right now."
But once that numbness wears off, he along with his players and assistant coaches can celebrate a win that has to feel especially sweet after his team's past struggles against Mooresville.
The Knights had never beaten the Pioneers during Medworth's five year tenure as head coach, in fact, Northview closest loss had been a 19 point sectional loss back in 2003. Ironically, that was also the last time the team won 15 games.
Friday, the Knights matched that total with an impressive defensive display.
Northview held Mooresville to just 30 percent shooting (14-of-46) for the game and frustrated Mooresville's Heather Harper into hitting just three-of-15 from the field.
The Northview rally began in the second quarter when they got a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Spring Raines and a pair of buckets from Julie Whitted to squeeze out to a 25-19 advantage while three Mooresville starters were on the bench with two fouls.
So when the third quarter began, all eyes were on how both teams would follow up.
The Knights took the challenge in stride.
After Harper hit a 3-pointer for the Pioneers to close the Northview lead to 27-24, Lexee Hayes hit a clutch jumper and followed with a 3-pointer to extend the advantage to 32-24. The Knights were patient on offense and challenged every Mooresville shot, holding them to 30 percent shooting in the third quarter.
"Our girls are really playing with confidence right now," noted Medworth. "They are starting to believe in what Coach Crooks has taught them."
With the 6'5 Whitted intimidating inside, the Pioneers went away from posting the ball to Harper and began to settle for mid-range jumpers that weren't falling on Friday.
Taking a 33-26 lead into the fourth quarter, the Knights extended their lead in the first few possessions, going to Whitted for a score off a lob pass from Raines. Raines followed with a free throw and then a baseline jumper to push the lead to 13 points following a free throw from Whitted.
The Pioneers would attempt a rally with their full court pressure, forcing a couple of turnovers and getting to the basket to chop the lead to 42-34.
But over the final 1:15, the Knights got a steal from Hayes who was fouled and scored a pair of free throws and after a Harper miss, Raines hit another free throw to push the lead back to double digits. From there, the Knights got another chance to celebrate on the sectional court with a victory over another long-time nemesis.
"This has got to feel good for the girls," said a smiling Medworth. "These girls are beginning to believe in themselves. For all the kids who've played here before and lost to these guys. . .this is for them."
Terre Haute North Sectional
Hayes 3-6 3-6 10, Gregg 0-0 0-0 0, Raines 4-14 8-13 18, Spugnardi 1-1 0-0 2, Whitted 6-12 3-6 15, Plummer 1-1 1-2 3, Fulk 0-1 0-0 0, Sanders 0-0 0-0 0, Hunter 0-0 0-0 0, Birkey 0-0 0-0 0, Crooks 0-0 0-0 0, Raderstorf 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-35 15-27 48.
Schafer 1-2 1-1 3, Kenney 5-10 0-2 10, Viles 2-5 0-0 5, Dougherty 2-6 0-0 4, Harper 3-15 5-8 13, Strohmeyer 0-4 1-2 1, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Malm 0-1 0-0 0, Couch 1-3 0-0 3. Totals: 14-46 5-8 7-13 39.
3-point fieldgoals -- NV 3-11 (Raines 2-8, Hayes 1-3), Mv 4-15 (Harper 2-7, Viles 1-1, Couch 1-2, Strohmeyer 0-3, Malm 0-1, Schafer 0-1). Total Rebounds -- NV 33 (Whitted 6, Plummer 6, Raines 6), Mv 20 (Kenney 7). Total Fouls -- NV 12, Mv 23. Fouled out -- Mv (Schafer, Harper). Turnovers -- NV 18, Mv 15.