NAPPANEE – This idea of not sharing is becoming common in girls sports at NorthWood. And the Lady Panthers are all for it.
The Black Swish became the third girls program this athletic calendar to run 7-0 in Northern Lakes Conference play, finishing off the girls basketball round robin with a perfect mark after crushing Goshen 36-19 Saturday night in The Pit. Basketball becomes the third girls outfit, joining girls golf and volleyball. Boys tennis adds another after its historic fall run.
On the court against the RedHawks, NorthWood did a number on defense, holding Goshen to just two points for the first 13:29 of the game and without a field goal until that point. Depending on the side of the conversation, NorthWood’s defensive pressure and/or Goshen’s offensive ineptitude saw the score run out to 24-9 after Alea Minnich drilled a three and Kate Rulli converted a bucket to close the third quarter. Goshen managed just two points in the third quarter.
“You can’t win if you can’t score,” remarked Goshen head coach Shaun Hill. “I don’t know what to say. They pressured us. I didn’t feel it was overly pressured. They just stayed in front of the ball and challenged passing lanes, everybody was physical.”
When Goshen had found success coming into the night, Brynn Shoup Hill was in the middle of it. Knowing that, NorthWood did plenty to front Hill outside the key and double down when the ball made it into the paint. Hill, a Division 1 basketball prospect with at least one program in the stands watching, came into the game averaging a tick under 16 points per night. She managed just nine points on three field goals.
“You have to play her with two people, she is just that good,” said NorthWood head coach Adam Yoder of defending Hill. “She can step out and shoot over the top of you. There’s not much you can do about that, she can shoot it right over you. I thought for the most part we had a body on her all night. We had somebody behind her on help, and we did a good job of not fouling her when she got it. That’s huge against her because she’s a good free throw shooter.”
Hill did start a mini run in the fourth quarter that at least made the game interesting. Hill hit a jumper that preceded Haley Mast later hitting a three and Regan Mast scoring a bucket to create a 7-0 run, slicing the NorthWood lead to 12 at 28-16. But it was far too late as NorthWood closed out its first perfect NLC run since NorthWood coach Adam Yoder’s first season in 2014-15.
“They didn’t want to share it” said Yoder, who was in charge of the golf run in the fall and inherited five varsity volleyballers from their perfect march. “As much as I love Lenny (Krebs, Warsaw head coach), and I respect Warsaw, but we had no thoughts of sharing that with them. I was really impressed the girls took that out there, with all the emotions of senior night and it’s a very special group of seniors.
“We were able to come out and get off to a great start and control the game from the get-go.”
The Panthers, in earning its 20th win, set the team record for regular season wins. Rulli took the lead for the team with 14 points and Minnich scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half.
NorthWood came into the night having to win to take the title outright, with Warsaw winning over Concord to finish 6-1 and runner-up. It was NorthWood’s 12th NLC title in program history.
NorthWood (20-3) will wrap up the regular season Wednesday at home against Michigan City. Goshen sits at 16-5 overall, but is just 2-4 in the NLC with its final regular season contest at Memorial next Friday.
In the JV game, Goshen toughed out a 29-23 win.