Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- Opening your basketball season against a team that has quickly become a bitter rival isn't always the ideal situation.
But when you can walk away with a hard fought victory in that contest, the satisfaction is that much greater.
That was the case for the Northview Knights in its Clabber Girl Classic opener on Wednesday night.
In his first regular season game after taking over the Knights' reigns, coach Chad Smith, formerly Sullivan's head coach, got a win over those same Golden Arrows, 53-45.
The Knights earned that win despite falling behind by as many as seven points in the first half, but Northview showed a great deal of resilience and toughness in a physical victory.
"I'm glad to get this one over with," said Smith after the game. " (Sullivan's) Julie (Meeks) is a great coach and we're lucky to come out with a win."
The combination of seniors Amber Horton and Erika Huff did most of the first half damage for the Arrows, combining for 14 first quarter points as Sullivan jumped to a 14-7 lead.
"Huff and Lahay tore us up in the first half," said Smith of the seniors. "We didn't do a good job protecting against them, but I'm glad we could contain that in the second half."
Despite trailing early in the game, Smith pointed out that his team didn't get nervous.
"I don't think we ever hit the panic button even when we got down by seven early in the game," said Smith.
But Stormi Raines' long-range shooting got the Knights right back into the mix.
Raines knocked down a trio of trifectas in the first half. Two of those long range bombs helped the Knights rebound to take a 23-22 lead at the half.
The game settled into a see-saw affair in the second half with Emily Phillips kicking off the third quarter scoring for the Knights.
The sophomore picked up a steal and raced the length of the court for a layin and a 25-22 Knights' lead, but Sullivan came righ back on a baseline jumper from senior Emily Lahay and Horton to re-take the lead.
The lead traded hands eight times over the middle stages of the third quarter and into the fourth period.
With Sullivan leading 29-27 after a free throw from Shelby Lamb, Abby Birkey arrived for the Knights, scoring on a layin and sparking some hard nosed defense.
Spring Raines scored off an inbounds steal and off a drive on her way to a 17-point night. Suddenly leading 33-32, Birkey dished off to Erica Lee on a break to extend the lead.
But Huff came back for Sullivan with one of her four 3-pointers to give the Arrows a 36-35 lead.
Tara Crooks answered for the Knights to end the half, sinking a pair of free throw to give Northview a one-point lead heading into the final quarter.
Kirstin Kimball made a leaping catch of a pass under the basket and put home the layin early in the quarter and Spring Raines knocked down a 3-pointer after Birkey drove the lane and passed back for the assist and a 42-38 lead for the Knights.
Raines followed that up with a hoop off a long outlet pass.
The Arrows crept back within 44-40 after a jumper by Huff, but Crooks scored off a rebound, one of seven in the game for the senior, and then tallied her sixth point off a feed from Spring Raines.
Spring and Stormi Raines wrapped up the game by hitting all four of their free throws to cap the game.
"We knew this would be an emotional game," commented Smith afterwards. "But we battled through that storm. We came up with some big rebounds. We're going to keep getting better."
The Knights were led in scoring by Spring Raines with 17 points and Stormi Raines with 14.
In the evening's opening game, Owen Valley pasted a 77-20 defeat on West Vigo and will face Northview on Saturday morning beginning at 10 a.m.
Clabber Girl Classic
At West Vigo
Phillips 2-6 0-0 4, Kimball 3-4 0-2 6, Sp.Raines 6-11 4-5 17, St.Raines 4-10 3-4 14, Crooks 2-4 2-4 6, Lee 1-6 0-0 2, Colson 1-1 0-0 2, Birkey 1-1 0-0 2, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Sampson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-43 9-15 53.
Clark 0-1 1-2 1, Lahay 4-14 4-6 12, Lamb 2-6 1-3 5, Huff 6-12 0-2 16, Horton 4-5 0-0 8, Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Gadsberry 0-1 0-0 0, L.Bond 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-40 6-11 45.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 4-13 (Sp.Raines 1-4, St.Raines 3-6, Phillips 0-2, Lee 0-1), SL 5-13 (Huff 4-7, Lahay 1-3, Jones 0-2, Gadsberry 0-1). Total Rebounds -- Nv 26 (Crooks 7), SL 27 (Lahay 8). Total Fouls -- Nv 14, SL 15. Turnovers -- Nv 26, Sullivan 23.