By GREG KEIM firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MIDDLEBURY — The NorthWood Black Swish and the host Northridge Raiders appear destined to meet in today’s championship game of the 3rd annual Bankers Classic high school girls basketball tournament.
NorthWood is one win away from the finale after the Black Swish defeated East Noble 61-45 and Highland 66-25 in Friday’s action. Northridge has already advanced to the championship based on its 51-38 win over Andrean and a 62-32 victory over Columbia City combined with the fact that the other team in Pool A Hamilton dropped out of the event on Thursday.
“It’s unfortunate that Hamilton pulled out,” Northridge coach Doug Springer said. “It was too late to replace them. It means teams in our pool will only get to play three games. The Columbia City coach (Amy Shearer) was upset about how her team didn’t get to play a game before they played us.”
One of the reasons for Northridge’s easy win over Columbia City was the Raiders ability to limit the Eagles to one shot and then being able to turn those defensive rebounds into transition points on the offensive end.
The Raiders (10-1) were up 22-8 after one quarter, 40-12 at halftime and 50-21 at the end of the third period.
“Our guards — (senior) Brianne O’Dell, (junior) Taylor Miller and (senior) Mikaela Zook — took two dribbles and the ball was gone,” Springer said. “I don’t know how many possessions we had where the ball never touched the floor until it went through the net at the other end. We had told the girls the idea for the game was to get a stop on defense, score and then get another stop.”
One other thing the Raiders forced Columbia City to do on offense was to try and lob the ball inside to their post players.
“We are not a tall team, but we have good movement,” Springer said. “We don’t want teams making straight-line passes on us. We want them to try lobs. Those kind of passes give us a chance to use our athletic ability.”
Senior Morgan Miller scored a career-high 23 points for the Raiders. Taylor Miller added 12, sophomore Ellie Lengacher 10 (ties her career-high), sophomore Baleigh Carithers seven, Kelly Miller and Zook four apiece and senior Molly Bontrager two.
NorthWood (8-3) took control in the game with Highland in the opening moments as Black Swish senior Morgan Olson scored baskets on the team’s first three possessions each time after grabbing an offensive rebound.
The Black Swish led 22-6 at the end of the opening quarter and 39-11 at halftime.
“We took them out of their game early on,” veteran NorthWood coach Steve Neff said. “I personally scouted Highland. They had beaten some good teams. We had the worst record of the team’s in our pool.”
NorthWood had good scoring balance with three players in double figures. Senior Tiffanie Alexander and junior Jordyn Frantz both tossed in 13 points and Olson added 12.
“This was a good game for us,” Neff said. “We got contributions from everyone that played and we got a chance to rest our inside players. We needed that with two more games on Saturday.”
Frantz also dished out six assists.
“She made some nice passes,” Neff said.
The Black Swish stretched the lead to 53-23 by the end of the third period.
Junior Shyla Southern chipped in with seven points for NorthWood, senior Taylor Fielstra and freshman Taitlyn Trenshaw both five, junior Haley Roe and sophomore Arika Flickinger four apiece, senior Inger Yoder two and sophomore Andrea Tuttle one.
Olson had eight rebounds, Southern and Roe both five. Alexander had three assists, Frantz six steals and
The Black Swish also had a good start in the East Noble contest, taking a 20-4 lead after one quarter. East Noble played better in the second and cut the lead to 37-26 at halftime before NorthWood got the score to 53-33 at the end of the third quarter.
Olson finished with 19 points, Frantz 15, Fielstra and Rob both seven, Alexander six, Southern four, Yoder two and Flickinger one.
Alexander had six rebounds and Olson five. Fielstra had four assists, Alexander three, Frantz and Roe two steals apiece.
NorthWood takes on South Bend Adams today at 11 a.m.
South Bend Adams defeated Highland 62-38 and lost to East Noble 50-47 in other Pool A action.
The championship game is set for 4 p.m.