Times Sports Editor
Any conference win is just a little sweeter than a regular 'W' and for first-year Northview coach Chad Smith, a win over Sullivan is even more special after heading up the Arrows the previous four years.
On Friday night, Smith's Knights got him a second win over the Arrows this season with a 48-46 thriller that completed Northview's conference record at 4-2.
The outcome was in doubt nearly to the final horn in the WIC battle as Northview overcame a four-point deficit with two minutes to play and took their final lead on two free throws from freshman Chelsey Sampson.
Sullivan's Emily Lahay had one final chance with under seven seconds left in the game, but her jumper came up short and the rebound went to the Knights.
"We got down there in the fourth quarter and we did some things we shouldn't have and didn't take care of the ball, but we came back and played better," said Smith.
The final quarter was a see-saw affair that had both teams attempting to take control.
The Knights came into the quarter with a three-point lead after two free throws from Spring Raines gave Northview a 39-36 advantage.
But Sullivan came back with a bucket by junior guard Andrea Jones to open the final period and a turnover by the Knights led to a score by Lahay and, later, two free throws from Shelby Lamb.
Suddenly the Knights' miscues had translated directly into a nearly fatal momentum shit and a 42-39 Sullivan lead.
The Arrows started going to their bread and butter, the 5'9 Lahay who was a monster force down the stretch for the Arrows.
She was held to just three points in the first half but demanded the ball on the low block and proceeded to back Northview defenders into the post where she drew several fouls. Lahay got to the line six times down the stretch and gave Sullivan a 45-41 lead with 1:57 left.
Struggling on offense, the Knights went to Spring Raines whose drive to the basket narrowed the lead to 45-43.
Perhaps the game's biggest play followed when Sullivan senior Erika Huff missed a pair of free throws and Northview point guard Abby Birkey took the ball to the rack for a score and a chance at a three-point play.
"Abby played a terrific game," said Smith of his senior who hit double-digits with 11 points. "She hit some big 3's for us and played great defense."
Birkey's drive tied the score with 1:20 remaining.
Lahay again got to the line at the other end where she hit one-of-two and Sampson pulled down a big rebound for the Knights and was fouled in the process.
In the bonus, Sampson calmly stepped to the line and sank the two biggest free throws of her young career.
"She's going to be a bright spot for us for a long time," said Smith of his 6'2 freshman. "Chelsey is going to be a go-to girl for this program down the road."
On Friday night, Sampson's charity tosses game her squad a 47-46 lead with 1:01 left.
The Knights had a couple of shots to close out the win, but missed the front end of a pair of one-and-one chances at the line. They did take advantage of the final chance.
Spring Raines capped off a 22-point night by sinking a free throw with 11 seconds left to push the lead to 48-46.
Sullivan crossed the half court line to set up their final shot, but Lahay's 12-footer came up short.
"That last possession we knew they would be going to Lahay, but we thought they'd try to get it into the post," said Smith. "
The Knights improved to 7-11 overall and will visit Plainfield on Tuesday night before celebrating senior night on Thursday against Bloomfield.
Clark 1-3 0-0 2, Lahay 6-17 4-8 17, Lamb 3-8 4-6 10, Huff 3-11 0-2 8, Horton 0-2 0-0 0, L.Bond 0-3 0-0 0, Jones 3-5 2-2 9, Gadberry 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-50 8-16 46.
Birkey 4-6 0-0 11, Sp.Raines 6-16 8-12 22, St.Raines 2-4 2-2 7, Crooks 1-2 0-0 2, Colson 0-3 0-0 0, Sampson 1-3 2-2 4, Kimball 1-2 0-0 2, Lee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-6 12-17 48.
3-point fieldgoals -- SL 4-12 (Jones 1-2, Lahay 1-3, Huff 2-6, Clark 0-1), Nv 6-13 (Birkey 3-5, Sp.Raines 2-5, St.Raines 1-3). Total Rebounds -- SL 28 (Lamb 8, Lahay 7), Nv 34 (Sp.Raines 11, Birkey 7). Total Fouls -- SL 15, Nv 17. Fouled out -- SL (Lamb). Turnovers -- SL 9, Nv 21.