MIDDLEBURY – NorthWood and Northrigde both won its first two games of the two-day Bankers Classic girls basketball tournament hosted by Northridge. The Panthers and Raiders are in opposite pools of the eight-team tournament, Northridge in Pool A and NorthWood in Pool B. Play will continue Saturday morning with a third game and finish with placement games.
NORTHWOOD 44, ANDREAN 34
Whether NorthWood finally got the shots it wanted, or Andrean didn’t, the game was decided in the fourth quarter.
Andrean rallied to claim a 28-27 lead to end the third quarter, and after pulling in a pair of offensive rebounds and a putback by Bri Houpt, the Fighting 59ers took a 30-29 lead early in the fourth. That was the last time Andrean saw a lead. NorthWood immediately came down and scored, then after an Andrean turnover, Kate Rulli bulled her way to the basket for a 33-30 Panther lead.
NorthWood would go on to outscore Andrean 11-4 down the stretch, holding the 59ers to a 2-15 floor performance in the final eight minutes.
“I thought we closed off some gaps there in the fourth quarter and rebounded a little better,” stated NorthWood head coach Adam Yoder. “We started playing better on the offensive end. Rather than just getting OK looks, we were getting better looks, and finally hitting some of them. I thought the defensive intensity was a lot more mature in the fourth, which became the difference for us.”
Kendal Miller continued to find her scoring touch when it matters, scoring 11 of her 13 points in the second half. Miller nailed a three to double up NorthWood’s lead, 36-30, in a crucial spot in the fourth and hit all six of her free throws in the game. Andrean held Maddy Payne scoreless in the second half, but the NorthWood senior still finished with 10 points while Rulli and Alea Minnich added eight points apiece.
Andrean had Lauren Colon lead the way with nine points and Julia Schutz had six points.
“I think we’re 20th or so in the state in defensive average now and the girls are starting to understand that as long as we play good defense, we’re going to be in most games,” Yoder said. NorthWood came into the tournament ranked No. 19 in all classes allowing just 33.2 points per game. “If we can defend as well as we are and rebound, then we should have a chance to win every game in the fourth quarter.”
NORTHWOOD 49, RUSHVILLE 38
The Black Swish rushed out to a 28-12 lead in the first half to close out a win over Rushville.
Payne had 10 of her 15 points in the first half, Rulli notching nine of her 13 in the opening two frames. Miller added eight points for the Panthers, which are 2-0 after the first day of games in Pool B of the tournament.
Annika Marlon led Rushville with 16 points.
NorthWood will come back in the morning of the two-day tournament to meet Merrillville at 11:30 a.m. The Panthers are on course with a collision with the host Northridge Raiders, which also went 2-0 in its contests. The Raiders defeated St. Joe 56-51 and Portage 51-42. Jaci Walker scored 17 points in each win and Makena Knepp combined for 28 points in the two games. Northridge takes on East Noble Saturday in its third game.
The top team from each pool will meet in the final, set for approximately 4:30 p.m.