Outstanding effort at regional falls short for Northview girls
By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
DANVILLE -- Facing Class 3A's fifth ranked Lebanon Tigers and the state's leading scorer, the Northview Knights faced an uphill battle in Monday's Danville Regional.
Coming off the school's first girls' first sectional basketball title, the Knights left it all on the court, rallying multiple times from double-digit deficits, but ultimately fell to the Tigers, 68-60.
Northview faced a 35-24 deficit at halftime, but weren't fazed by the high-powered Tigers.
While the Knights struggled to get the ball inside to leading scorer, Mikayla Rowan in the first half, Northview had the perimeter power of Mallory Smith in its arsenal.
Smith nailed a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter to keep Northview within striking distance. Meanwhile, Lebanon was red hot from the perimeter themselves.
Mallory Cast hit all three of her field goals in the first quarter, two of them from beyond the arc. Brooke Montgomery added a pair of 3-pointer and Kristen Spolyar drained one at the first quarter buzzer to cap a 23-point rush in the opening stanza by the Tigers.
Smith's shooting kept Northview within 23-13 after the first eight minutes and the Knights were able to settle in during the second period.
Sydney Buell scored a pair of hoops, Whitney Halfhill added another and Rowan scored three of her 15 points in the second quarter as Lebanon took a 35-24 lead into intermission.
The Knights needed some momentum to get back into the game and Smith provided just that to start the second half.
The senior nailed a 3-pointer to start the third period and it was only a harbinger of things to come for the rallying Knights
Spolyar, averaging a state leading 33 points per game, knocked down a shot off a rebound. Smith answered right back with a short jumper, but Kassidi Cadle added a jumper for Lebanon. The Tigers pushed the lead to 39-29, but the Knights were poised for a rally.
Stacy Payton sank a jumper and Northview found an opening in the paint for Mikayla Rowan. A Tigers' turnover fed a pair of free throws for Smith. As she did all evening, Solyar, a Butler University recruit, hit the glass and snagged a rebound and got the put back for a hoop and a 41-35 lead for the Tigers.
With momentum hanging in the balance, the Knights took control.
Rowan scored off a rebound, Payton drained a 3-pointer and Tigers' turnover fed another 3-pointer from Smith.
While Smith fueled a 13-2 Knights' run with a 13-point third quarter, Spolyar wouldn't let Lebanon sink.
The junior scored off a drive to tie the game after a 3-pointer by Smith. A bucket by Rowan and another 3-pointer by Smith gave the Knights a 48-43 lead. Northview had rallied with a 19-4 run through the middle of the third period using 10-of-16 shooting from the field.
The Tigers proved to be unwavering as Spolyar splashed down a 3-pointer from two-feet beyond the arc that spurred an 18-2 run into the fourth quarter by the Tigers.
The Knights kept Spolyar in check for the most part. However, the physical forward answered every Northview strike.
"I thought we played extremely well and showed a lot of toughness and heart out there. We made (Kristen) Spolyar fight for about every single one she got. Give credit to Lebanon," Northview coach Scott Buell said. "Their other girls that don't particularly score that much stepped up and hit some big shots. You have to tip your cap to them. We tried to take away their best player. . . she didn't quite get her average, but she still got a lot."
Spolyar hit a free throw and added an offensive rebound bucket after a score by Peyton Terrill. Brooke Montgomery hit on a driving lay-up for a 61-50 Tigers' lead.
Smith sank her seventh 3-pointer in just eight attempts, but Montgomery answered immediately for Lebanon with four minutes remaining. The Tigers held serve the rest of the way to advance to the regional final.
Smith dropped 27 points on the Tigers to counter 29 from Spolyar, who also had six steals and seven rebounds. Rowan had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights as Payton added 12 points and six boards.
"I couldn't be more proud of how we played tonight. That third quarter we were flat taking it to them. They got a few offensive rebounds that hurt us there late. We handled the ball better in the second half. These seniors, I'm so proud of them. They worked so hard over the last four years and they've brought this program a long, long ways from one win four years ago to 18 wins and battling one of the best teams in the state tooth and nail."
Northview ends with a school-record 18 wins this season and an 18-7 record. The 23-3 Tigers face 18-7 Indianapolis Chatard in the regional final.
Class 3A Danville Regional
Halfhill 2-3 0-0 4, Fagg 0-1 0-0 0, Payton 4-7 2-2 12, Rowan 6-14 3-4 13, Smith 8-14 3-4 15, Buell 2-3 0-0 4, Reason 0-0 0-0 , Vanatti 0-0 0-0 0, Conrad 0-0 0-0 0, Lundy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-42 9-11 60.
Cast 3-10 4-4 12, Montgomery 6-9 0-1 16, Cadle 2-6 0- 4, Spolyar 11-22 5-9 29, Terrill 2-9 0-0 4, Marsh 1-2, 0-0 3, Burcham 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 25-59 9-14 68.
3-point field goals -- Nv 9-12 (Smith 7-8, Payton 2-4), Leb 9-18 (Montgomery 4-4, Cast 2-6, Spolyar 2-6, Marsh 1-2). Total Rebounds -- Nv 31 (Rowan 10, Payton 6, Halfhill 6), Leb 30 (Cadle 7, Spolyar 7). Total Fouls -- Nv 12, Leb 16. Assists -- Nv 12 (Rowan 4), Leb 11 (Spolyar 4). Steals -- Nv 3 (Halfhill 2), Leb 10 (Spolyar 6). Turnovers -- Nv 18, Leb 8.