SYRACUSE — It took one moment of quick thinking to erase what had been a horrendous evening.
Goshen’s lone senior, Aimee Swihart, made up for a dismal performance with a late steal, layup, and another steal in the final 30 seconds of a 39-35 Goshen girls basketball win at Wawasee Friday night.
Swihart, who had averaged well over 15 points per game coming into the night, had just six points heading into the final minute and had been virtually non-existent for a good portion of the game. Physically sick for parts of the game, the quick hands of Swihart stole a ball as Wawasee passed around the perimeter trying to find KiLee Knafel. Swihart chugged down court and scored to give Goshen the four-point lead and Swihart again found the ball as Wawasee scrambled up court in the final seconds.
As Swihart stood at midcourt with her fists clenched in the air as the final horn sounded, Goshen breathed a sigh of relief as Wawasee quickly felt the sickness inside.
“The biggest positive we have about this game was that we have struggled when we don’t score 60 points to win a basketball game,” said Goshen head coach Lenny Krebs. “To win a basketball game scoring in the 30s, we haven’t been able to do that in the past. Defensively, we are not that good right now. But by golly, I am not about to say we were good defensively but KiLee (Knafel), you have to give her credit. She is a tough one to stop.”
Goshen are 5-0 this season when scoring over 60 points, just 2-1 now when not scoring at least 60. Last season, the theme carried over as Goshen were 10-1 when they scored 60 or more points, 3-7 not hitting the mark.
While Swihart’s wizardry will be remembered, a pair of Redskins did a lot of the lifting to keep Goshen in front for much of the contest.
Kayci Troyer paced Goshen in the first half, scoring five of her seven points and finished the night with nine rebounds. Guard Deja Felder led the Redskins (7-1, 1-0 NLC) with 15 points, but had a huge coast-to-coast layup to put Goshen ahead 37-35.
Knafel again had a Yeoman’s effort for Wawasee, scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Knafel scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 30, and after an Addison Ayres free throw put Wawasee up 31-30, Goshen began squarely focusing on Knafel. Kylee Rostochak scored four of her eight points in the final eight minutes, but without much punch coming from Wawasee’s remaining four while Goshen double and triple teamed Knafel, lessons were sorely learned.
“It’s a hard game to play with one, been there and done that,” said Wawasee head coach Kem Zolman. “It’s a good learning tool for them, its just too bad its the first NLC game. You would love to get that first game down, but it wasn’t to be. Things didn’t fall our way at the end.”
Wawasee (6-1, 0-1 NLC) won’t have much time to dwell on its first loss of the season with a trip to South Bend Adams on the slate for Saturday night. Goshen will get back at it next Thursday when it hosts 4A No. 9 Northridge.
“When you have three freshmen on the court, sometimes they follow the plan, sometimes they don’t,” Zolman said of the learning experience from the loss. “But its not their fault, they have not been put into that kind of heavy-duty situation. We are putting them in that situation. We have every bit of fault as them.
“We’re saying we are going to play you, so we’re depending on some decision-making things, things they have never had to do before. This was a great learning situation for them. It’s not February yet, so that’s a good thing.”
The Goshen JV churned out a 22-16 win in the JV contest. Alyssa Hershberger poured in eight points for the victors while Allissa Flores recorded seven points, three rebounds and three steals for Wawasee.