North Clay seventh grader Nicole Nelson looks to make a pass along the baseline to a teammate against Greencastle on Thursday night.
In their season finale, the North Clay seventh grade basketball team split a pair of thrilling contests against visiting Greencastle on Thursday evening.
The 'A' squad took an 11-10 halftime lead behind a strong first quarter from Jenny Gabriel who had three points and four rebounds and four points from Raven Enders. However, Greencastle used an offensive flurry to end the third period to take control and held off a furious North Clay rally to take a 27-25 victory.
The Tiger Cubs held a tenuous lead over the Knights late in the third quarter before a Mallory Miller bucket put them ahead by four points and a steal and buzzer-beating 3-pointer seemed to seal the deal over North Clay.
Trailing 21-14 beginning the fourth quarter, the Knights were teetering on the brink of falling out of contention, but they began to apply the pressure in the final period.
The Northview defense began to extend their defense to full court and pushed the ball in transition on offense. The result was that the Knights sparked a rally back into the game.
Chelsey Sampson started the comeback when she scored off a feed from Lauren Webster. Greencastle responded with a basket from Chelsea Samuels before North Clay got things rolling.
Webster scored off the transition to get North Clay within 23-18 and Darcy Bass followed off a pass from Webster with 3:29 remaining to close within 23-20. Samuels answered for Greencastle with two free throws, but Enders drilled a jumper from the wing for North Clay and Webster got a steal and was fouled on her shot attempt.
She hit one-of-two free throws to narrow the gap to 25-23 with two minutes left in the game. But again, Greencastle came back with a key jumper from Whitney Brotherton, her only points of the game and despite a leaner in the paint from Webster, the Knights could get no closer than two points over the final 17 seconds.
"We had a good effort tonight," commented coach Scott Fosdick. "We ended the year, defensively, way better than the beginning and our aggressiveness picked up. I'm pleased that the girls made some huge strides, it'll pay off."
Webster had seven points for North Clay while Gabriel added six along with Enders. Sampson contributed four points and six boards. Gabriel added seven rebounds for the Knights.
In the 'B' game, North Clay played a very sluggish first half that put them in a 7-2 hole at halftime before they were awakened for a very important four minute streak in the third period.
Annie Smiley provided a big spark on the defensive end, and North Clay went to full court pressure on the Tiger Cubs.
The blanketing defense paid off for North Clay as Smiley scored a pair of baskets and Benita Wilkerson gave the Knights their first lead at 9-7. Nicole Nelson scored off a pass from Smiley as North Clay used an 11-0 run to take a 13-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
Greencastle would score once in the final quarter to narrow the gap to 13-9 and over the final minute, Abigail Crawford pulled down several key rebounds and a couple of steals and Baylee Keyt grabbed a big defensive rebound with 11.1 seconds left to seal the victory.
"We didn't really rebound well the first half of the year," admitted Fosdick, "But we really made the effort to improve."
Rissa Berg was big on the boards for the Knights, pulling down eight rebounds and Crawford had three over the final minutes. Both Nelson and Smiley had four points with Berg adding three.
The 'A' squad ended the season at 14-7 and the 'B' squad's win was their second of the year, ending at 2-6 overall.