MIDDLEBURY – Happy Birthday Taitlyn Trenshaw.
The NorthWood guard got quite the start Thursday on her own special celebration of her special day.
The Panther standout was a difference maker at both ends of the court in leading her team to a win over Columbia City in the opening game of pool play in the Bankers Classic Holiday Tournament.
Senior Trenshaw, who turned 18 Thursday, canned a game-high 27 points in an outstanding performance as the Panthers beat the Eagles 51-41 in the eight-team event hosted by Northridge High School.
Trenshaw, whose scoring output was a career high, was simply sensational and unstoppable in a phenomenal second-half effort as NorthWood won its eighth straight game. She drained 19 points in the final half to outscore the entire City team, which scored 17.
The Panthers, who improved to 12-2, outscored the Eagles 30-17 in the second half to erase a three-point halftime deficit. NorthWood, energized by its defensive effort, allowed the Eagles just four baskets in the second half.
Trenshaw, who will play at IUSB next year, entered the game averaging a team-high 9.8 points-per-game. The hard-nosed 5-4 point guard canned 13 of her team’s 17 points in the decisive third quarter as the Panthers outscored the Eagles 17-6 to take control of the contest.
“I don’t like to lose,” said the feisty Trenshaw of what fueled her offensive explosion in the second half and notably the third quarter. “I told myself that I was going to take the open shots and I was feeling it in the third quarter. This feels good. I go crazy when I score and it helped me bring the energy today. It’s a great present to play like this.
“We picked it up with our defense in the second half. The message at halftime was that we were fine. I knew that I just had to keep my calm. Everyone was kind of quiet at halftime and I just told them that we were fine.”
Columbia City, which dropped to 3-11 with its seventh straight loss, led 24-21 at halftime. The Panthers, who had not played in nine days, led 12-8 after the opening frame but were outscored 16-9 in the second stanza. NorthWood struggled with turnovers with 10 in the opening half and were a step slow at time on defense.
All that changed in a big, big way in the third period as Trenshaw, who is one of three seniors for the Panthers, made sure of that.
The Panthers outscored the Eagles 13-2 over the final five minutes of the critical third quarter. Trenshaw drained a pair of 3-pointers in the key run and also converted a traditional three-point play on a fine drive to the hoop and a free throw. The Panthers led 38-30 at the end of the third and allowed the Eagles just one field goal in the final quarter.
“Taitlyn just looked so comfortable shooting the ball in that third quarter,” said NorthWood coach Adam Yoder. “She was open and shot it and her teammates recognized that she was going good and got her the ball.
“We needed her scoring today for sure, but I thought that Taitlyn’s defense really sparked us too in that second half. Her growth as a leader has made a big difference for us this year.
“I thought that the difference in the second half was that we played 5-on-5. We just were not playing together well in that first half. We really did a much better job with our defensive intensity too in the second half. We had not planned to press as much as we did with having four games here in two days, but it was obvious we needed to in the second half and that made a big difference for us.”
Sophomore Riley Hershberger had six points and sophomore Mackenzie Bergman five for the Panthers. Senior Nicole Flickinger and sophomore Neely Trenshaw each added four points, freshman Madison Payne three and senior Erin Graber two.
Senior Chelsea Pettigrew led City with 13 points. Freshman Olivia Sherer added eight points for the Eagles.
NorthWood will jump back into Northern Lakes Conference play on Jan. 7 at Wawasee. The Panthers are 3-0 in league action and hope to challenge a talented Warsaw team and defending champion Northridge for the conference crown. Warsaw sits at 14-1 overall and 1-0 in the NLC, while the Raiders were 14-1 overall (3-0 in the NLC) prior to action Thursday.
“It’s all about us staying together and playing for each other,” said Trenshaw of the key to competing for the NLC title. “It’s going to take a team effort. We just have to have each other’s backs.”
NorthWood, which has lost to Penn and Norwell, will host Northridge Jan. 14 and entertain Warsaw Jan. 26 in the final conference game.
“The key for us in the NLC will be continuing to be more consistent offensively,” noted Yoder. “I think that our defense will be fine if we continue to play like we have. It’s on the offensive end where we need to improve our consistency.”
The Panthers were scheduled to face Lake Central later on Thursday and then take on South Bend Adams on Friday at 11:30 a.m. to finish pool play. The other pool included the host Raiders, along with East Noble, Andrean and Portage. The third place games are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday with the consolation and championship contests at 4:30 p.m.