DUNLAP – The NorthWood girls basketball team took care of business from start to finish Friday night.
The Panthers opened up Northern Lakes Conference play with a solid 49-30 win over host Concord in McCuen Gym.
NorthWood, which never trailed in the game, shook off the rust from a 10-day layoff and also saved some energy in the process for another game Saturday versus LaPorte.
Senior Taitlyn Trenshaw scored a game-high 13 points as the Black Swish improved to 6-2 overall on the season. Sophomore Mackenzie Bergman netted 11 points and junior Savannah Feenstra added nine for the winners.
Sophomore Chandyn Redmond led Concord with nine points. Sophomores Riley Mathewson and Kacy Gratzol each finished with six points for the hosts, who fall to 1-7.
The Panthers, who beat Concord 72-22 last season, led 8-2 early on Friday night. NorthWood had a 12-7 lead after the opening period as Trenshaw netted six points in the first frame. The Blaxk Swish led 30-19 at halftime as Trenshaw had 11 points and Bergman 10 off the bench. Bergman hit a pair of treys in the second quarter and Trenshaw one from distance.
A raucous Concord pep band provided plenty of noise for the game.
“This was the loudest environment that we have played in and we needed that,” said NorthWood coach Adam Yoder. “I was proud of how our girls came out and handled things tonight. Concord played really hard and with a lot of energy. I thought that our girls were mature and business like tonight.
“Our kids were ready to go tonight. We treat every NLC game like a championship game. The key in the NLC is to stay in the race as long as you can. Right now, looking at things so far, Warsaw and Northridge look like the frontrunners in the league, but we do not play them for a long time (until mid and late January). We have a lot of time to improve before then.”
NorthWood opened the second half with three straight buckets to push their lead to 36-19. Concord, which has now lost 16 straight NLC games dating back to the 2013-14 season, cut the lead to 38-27. The Panthers scored the final five points of the third quarter and then cruised home to the win. Yoder opted to sub a lot in the final frame as Concord did not make a field goal in the fourth period.
“We were a little out of control tonight at times,” noted Yoder. “We just need to learn the difference between a good shot and a great shot. We work on transition so much that it’s hard for our girls to reign it in sometimes. They are trying to do what we ask. They just get a little out of control at times.
“Caitlin and Mackenzie knocked down some shots early and got others involved. We got ahead and I just wanted to spell people in the second half with a quick turn around to play LaPorte Saturday afternoon. We just wanted to get through the second half with some fresh legs for tomorrow’s game.”
Sophomore Riley Hershberger had six points and freshman Madison Payne four for NorthWood. The trio of senior Nicole Flickinger, sophomore Kira Robinson and senior Erin Graber each added two points.
Junior Jenica Albert had five points and freshman Sydney Simon three for Concord, which does not have a senior on its roster this season. The Minutemen started the season 0-6 before defeating Elkhart Christian Academy 50-15 Tuesday night.
First-year coach Concord Cassie Cepeda, who took over a team that finished 5-18 overall and 0-7 in the NLC last season, has eight sophomores and freshmen on her 10-player varsity roster.
NorthWood won the junior varsity game 52-27. Madison Payne had 13 points and Kira Robinson 10 for the winners. Chloe Hartsough had 14 points and Tesslyn Tarman seven to lead Concord.
NorthWood hosts LaPorte Saturday afternoon with the JV game at noon. Concord plays at Michigan City Marquette Saturday afternoon.