Times Sports Editor
The thrill of victory has been absent much too long in the Northview girl's basketball locker room, but on Thursday night it returned 10-fold as the Knights earned their first win of the season, 49-47 over Bloomfield.
Cassie Weddle's two free throws with seven seconds remaining gave Northview the final margin and the Knights withstood a pair of potential tying shots by the Cardinals in the last moments to earn the win.
Northview coach Scott Buell was understandably excited for his team to get the victory.
"I'm very, very happy all around," Buell said. "It was an extremely difficult game. We got down pretty good twice and kept fighting back. I think that really shows the character of our team and how far we've come this year. Everybody that played tonight did an excellent job of stepping up and Cassie Weddle stepped up and hit some big free throws to give us the victory."
The Knights overcame an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter that easily could have floored the young squad, but the Knights responded with a free throw from Weddle and a three-point play from the junior guard. Sierra Girton followed that up with a bucket with 4:24 left in the game and she forced a five-second call on the Cardinals that returned the ball back to the Knights. Mikayla Rowan then tied the game off a feed from Ashley Hughes and the team had knotted the score at 47-all.
Weddle's contributions went beyond the scorebook as her hustle on the defensive end helped tie a loose ball up under 15 seconds and she was fouled as she drove the ball up the court with seven seconds left and the pressure on.
"She stepped up huge for us tonight," Buell said of Weddle. "She made a couple of big buckets and some good plays for us. She just played a really solid game, diving for loose balls, just tremendous effort out of her. We were tired there at the end of the game, but they were able to step up and fight through that to pull out the win."
In the first half, the Knights had trouble holding on to the ball under Bloomfield's full court trap, turning the ball over eight times in the opening quarter and 14 times before intermission.
However, Abbey Timberman found her spot as Bloomfield left her alone repeatedly along the baseline and she scored 12 of her 18 points before halftime.
"That was huge. (Bloomfield) was playing 1-3-1 zone and leaving the corners open and that's her shot," Buell said of the freshman. "When we could get it to her, she was knocking it down. They finally switched out of that and we had to go in another direction. She kept us in the ball game in the first half."
Northview rallied to tie the score at 24-all at halftime and three straight points from Weddle gave the Knights a lead. Timberman followed with a jumper after Whitney Halfhill's offensive rebound kept the possession alive and suddenly the Knights led 29-24 with 5:08 left in the period.
Bloomfield, which had gone inside with some success early in the game, began to heat up from beyond the arc against Northview's zone defense.
Senior Emily Walker hit a 3-pointer and a turnover by the Knights led to a lay-in by Alicia Hasler to quickly tie the score.
Hasler, who averages less than three points per game this season, was huge for Bloomfield, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 20 points.
"We started out really good defensively and then (Bloomfield) started running some sets and started scoring at will," Buell said. "We switched to zone defense and it really changed the pace of the game. It slowed them down. There in the third quarter they started hitting some outside shots. We made some changes and our girls did an excellent job of going with those changes.
Bloomfield went almost solely to the 3-point shot in the third quarter, taking 12 of them in the third quarter. However, Walker hit three of them on the way to an 11-point game, and Hasler added five points to rally the Cardinals to a 38-35 lead heading into the fourth period.
Bloomfield continued to surge in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Knights 23-10 to build a 47-39 lead after a bucket by Kari Schulte.
However, the Knights bounced back to end the game on a 10-0 run as Girton had four of her six points, Mikayla Rowan added a bucket and two of her five rebounds and Timberman wrapped up an 18-point, seven rebound game.
The Knights' junior varsity team got the night off on a good start with a 29-18 victory led by 13 points from Mallory Smith. Sydney Buell added seven points and Natasha Barrett had five points.
The Knights wrap up the regular season on Saturday on the road against Martinsville with a 1:30 p.m. varsity tip-off.
Halfhill 0-0 0-0 0, Timberman 6-12 4-6 18, Weddle 1-3 9-11 11, Hughes 1-3 0-1 2, Rowan 4-6 0-0 8, Kumpf 2-2 0-0 4, Girton 3-4 0-2 6. Totals: 18-30 13-20 49.
Riggins 4-8 1-1 9, Weddle 0-5 0-0 0, Pinnick 1-4 0-7 2, Gilmore 0-6 1-2 1, Walker 4-14 0-0 11, Hasler 8-17 0-1 20, Hall 0-0 0-0 0, Schulte 2-2 0-2 4. Totals: 19-56 2-13 47.
3-point fieldgoals -- Nv 0-3 (Timberman 0-1, Hughes 0-1, Girton 0-1), BL 7-25 (Hasler 4-12, Walker 3-9, Gilmore 0-4). Total Rebounds -- Nv 29 (Timberman 7, Rowan 5, Girton 4), BL 26 (Walker 5, Riggins 5). Team Rebounds -- Nv 3, BL 4. Total Fouls -- Nv 12, BL 18. Turnovers -- Nv 22, BL 10.