Northview's Jennifer Gregg (#20) looks for an open teammate in Saturday's sectional final.
TERRE HAUTE -- It was certainly special, but on Saturday night, Northview's magical sectional run came up two points short against Plainfield in the sectional title game, 40-38.
After two mesmerizing, roller coaster ride upset wins over Martinsville and Mooresville, the Knights just ran out of time against a Plainfield squad who had the benefit of playing in the bye bracket. The lesser sectional mileage on the Quakers legs appeared to have the most affect in the second half as Northview appeared to get a bit tired.
The Knights didn't play a great first half, turning the ball over nine times, but still they led the Quakers by three points on the strength of 14 first half points from freshman guard Spring Raines.
The Quakers were down 23-20 at the break, but came out and put together a 9-0 run to start the third quarter, pressuring and trapping the Northview guards effectively. Jessica Wolfe got the Quakers rolling by hitting a jumper just inside the arc and Chelsea Helgason followed with a 3-pointer to give Plainfield a 25-23 lead. With Plainfield pressing the Knights' inbounds on made baskets, the Quakers were able to force back-to-back turnovers and capitalized.
Ashley Crider got a steal and layin and Megan Eganolf banked home a jumper to put the Quakers ahead 29-23 before Julie Whitted scored off a lob pass from Lexee Hayes. But Plainfield followed again with a bucket following a steal by Allison Lutocka, but Raines ended the period with a rebound hoop.
"They turned up the pressure on us and made a couple of shots," said Northview coach Bob Medworth. "They did a tremendous job of keeping the ball away from Julie (Whitted) and pressuring our guards."
Plainfield would continue to be the aggressor in the fourth quarter, pushing their advantage to 35-27 on a pair of free throws from Wolfe.
The Knights would gather themselves down the stretch, getting a leaner in the lane from Hayes that broke a scoring drought, but Helgason answered back with a jumper to make the score 37-29.
Northview would make a small rally to get back some of their lost momentum when Raines got to the foul line following a rebound on the offensive end. Her two shots from the charity stripe preceded a Plainfield turnover at the other end. Whitted scored inside off a pass from Jennifer Gregg and suddenly Northview was back within 37-33 with 2:08 left in the game.
As the game played out, the Quakers seemed to get more and more loose balls and those extra chances would give them the advantage down the stretch.
"(Plainfield) is just flat out quick," said Medworth. "They have athletic girls and they knew exactly what to do when they got the lead at the end."
After rebounding evenly in the first half with Plainfield, the Quakers pulled down 15 boards in the second half compared to just nine for the Knights.
Wolfe and Hayes traded free throws over the next minute to keep the margin at four points, 38-34 with 1:11 left.
The Knights pressured the Quakers full court and were able to force a Plainfield turnover on the offensive end, the Quakers losing the ball out the end line. Hayes got to the line for the Knights and sank two free throws with 30 seconds left to get Northview within 38-36.
Forced to foul, the Knights sent Lutocka to the line with 22 seconds remaining where she hit both. At the Northview end, the Knights got the ball inside to Whitted who drove in for a bank shot with six seconds remaining. The Knights fouled Wolfe on the inbound pass with four seconds left, trailing 40-38.
Northview had no timeouts left when Wolfe missed the front end of a one-and-one attempt and Stephanie Plummer pulled down the rebound, passing the ball to Hayes who got tangled up at the buzzer with a Plainfield player to end the game.
Afterwards, Medworth wasn't ready to let such a special season end just yet.
"I'm ready to go back and watch some film and go back to practice," he commented. "We beat two of (their sectional opponents). We're finally, as a program, getting to where we expect to beat teams like this."
The Knights got superlative efforts from so many of their players to accomplish what they did in the postseason. Julie Whitted and Spring Raines led the stat categories, but Stephanie Plummer came off the bench to provide possibly the most influential sixth girl play of the tourney. Northview also got some calm and cool presence from starting guards Lexee Hayes and Jennifer Gregg who don't always show up with big stats, but were invaluable in handling the defensive pressure in the tourney. Brittney Spugnardi, as always, displayed all the hustle and grit that has kept her a thorn in opponents' sides for her career.
All in all, the Knights left it out on the floor come tourney time and there is plenty to be proud of during this 15-8 season.
Terre Haute North Sectional
Plainfield 40, Northview 38
Crider 2-4 0-0 5, Egenolf 2-3 0-1 4, Helgason 3-10 0-0 7, Wolfe 1-12 3-5 5, Lutocka 4-9 2-2 10, Noris 3-5 1-1 7, Litz 1-2 0-0 2, Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-45 6-9 40.
Hayes 1-8 3-4 5, Gregg 2-5 0-0 5, Raines 6-12 4-6 18, Spugnardi 0-1 0-0 0, Whitted 5-7 0-0 10, Plummer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 14-34 7-11 38.
3-point fieldgoals -- PL 2-11 (Crider 1-2, Helgason 1-5, Wolfe 0-3, Litz 0-1), NV 3-6 (Raines 2-4, Gregg 1-2). Total Rebounds -- PL 27 (Wolfe 7), NV 21 (Whitted 7). Total Fouls -- PL13, NV 15. Turnovers -- PL 13, NV 16.