Times Sports Editor
There's nothing like a good old rivalry game to give a team a bit of extra motivation and for the Northview girl's basketball team, a re-match with the West Vigo Vikings proved to be the perfect antidote for an 0-7 start to the season.
The Knights got a driving, runner in the lane from sophomore Ashley Hughes with just 3.9 seconds remaining and a shot by the Vikings' Brooklyn Waters fell short at the buzzer of a 35-34 Northview win. The victory snapped a 20-game losing streak that extended back to a victory over the Vikings last season on Dec. 11.
"I was so proud of them there in the final minute. We had led the entire game and for (West Vigo) to get the lead and for us to stay strong and to stay positive and fight back and get the victory," Northview coach Scott Buell said. "It was huge in so many ways. Even though it was our first win of the year, it was important on a lot more levels than just being our first 'W.'
Indeed, the Knights held a comfortable lead for much of the second half as their defense held the Vikings at bay and to just 13 percent field goal shooting (three-of-23) in the middle two quarters. Northview extended a 17-15 lead at halftime to a 27-20 lead on back-to-back scores by post player, Sierra Girton off the bench.
The Knights' front court was a big story during the game as Taylor Carter and Girton combined for 19 rebounds to help offset the foul trouble by 6'1 senior center, Chelsey Sampson. Leeanna Knight was assigned the defensive job to guard Waters, who leads the Vikings in numerous stat categories and helped hold the senior to a three-of-23 shooting performance from the field.
"Leeanna was tenacious on defense and on (Brooklyn) Waters. Taylor was dominating the boards, Sierra had her best game of the year and Chelsey played well when she was in there, but she was in foul trouble most of the game," Buell said of his post players. "Lauren kept us under control, her leadership really shined through and kept everyone together."
Though Webster had an off night shooting, with just four points, her teammates picked her up as five players had at least four points for the Knights.
Leading 27-20 late in the third quarter, the Vikings were able to get within 27-23 on free throws from Abby VanGilder and Waters to end the period.
In the fourth quarter, the Vikings were held at bay by a score by Hughes and a jumper by Carter early in the period. Sampson and Girton each added a free throw to put the Knights ahead 33-28 with 2:18 remaining in the game.
However, Alicyn Woodward scored off an offensive rebound and a Knights' turnover led to a score by Allyson Walters off another offensive board.
Northview, which outrebounded the Vikings 42-28 in the game, suddenly had problems hitting the boards and West Vigo answered back-to-back Knights' turnovers with a score by Waters to take the first lead at 34-33 with just 33.7 seconds remaining.
The Knights had a chance to take the lead with Hughes at the free throw line, but she missed both shots with 27 seconds left. At the other end, Waters, who hit five-of-six at the line in the third quarter, missed both of her free throw attempts, but the Vikings corralled the rebound. Waters was fouled and went to the line again, but once again missed both shots leaving the door open for the Knights.
Hughes picked up the ball in the backcourt, drove the length of the floor and sailed in for a lay-in and give the Knights a long-awaited victory.
"Honestly that's how we drew it up during the timeout," Buell said. "We knew they were going to double-team Lauren (Webster) and not let her make a play. I told Ashley to go get the ball, drive it and make a play and that's exactly what she did and knocked the shot down. I'm so proud of the girls.
"We need all five, we've had trouble scoring the basketball and for other people to step up and get some buckets in a tough, emotional and physical game, it was huge for everybody."
The Knights (1-7 overall, 1-1 WIC) host Terre Haute North on Tuesday.
West Vigo (34)
Carlson 2-6 0-0 5, Waters 3-23 5-10 11, Woodward 2-4 0-0 4, Barton 1-3 3-4 5, A.Walters 2-5 0-0 4, Little0-1 0-0 0, Silcock 0-0 0-4 0, VanGilder 0-2 3-4 3, L.Walters 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 11-46 11-22 34.
Knight 1-2 0-0 2, Webster 1-10 2-2 4, Hughes 3-8 0-2 6, Carter 4-7 2-4 10, Sampson 2-7 4-6 8, Weddle 0-0 0-0 0, Girton 2-3 1-6 5, Potter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-37 9-20 35.
3-point fieldgoals -- WV 1-5 (Carlson 1-4, Waters 0-1), Nv 0-3 (Webster 0-3). Total Rebounds -- WV 28 (Barton 6), Nv 42 (Carter 12, Girton 7). Total Fouls -- WV 21, Nv 19. Fouled out -- WV (Barton, A.Walters). Turnovers -- WV 17, Nv 22.