Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

February 17, 2013

PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Panthers fall on buzzer-beater

DECATUR — The NorthWood Black Swish battled back, tied the score and thought they were in good position to send their Class 3A high school girls basketball regional semifinal into overtime.

Fort Wayne Concordia senior Olivia Hahn, however, had another idea as she dashed the hopes of the Black Swish with her 3-pointer from half court as time expired giving the Cadets (18-6) a 42-39 win over NorthWood Saturday morning at Bellmont High School.

“One of Concordia’s best outside shooters made an improbable shot at the buzzer,” NorthWood coach Steve Neff said. “There’s not much else you can say.”

The Black Swish led 28-23 after three quarters only to have Concordia open the fourth with a 10-0 run. A basket by 5-8 junior Courtney Smith with 4:59 left to play gave the Cadets a 30-28 advantage. It was Concordia’s first lead since a 14-13 one at the end of the opening quarter.

Concordia pushed the advantage to 36-30 at 1:57 of the fourth. Five-eleven junior Morgan Olson tried to put the Black Swish on her broad shoulders by scoring the team’s final nine points. Her basket at :05 knotted the score 39-39, setting up Hahn’s game-winner.

“There are times when it’s nice not to call a time out,” Concordia coach Dave Miller said. “NorthWood was getting back on defense. We had been having problems getting the ball in against them. We had a time out, but I decided not to call it. Instead I let the girls go on. I was expecting to go to overtime, because a shot like that very rarely goes in.”

NorthWood finishes the season with a 22-4 record. The loss on Saturday snapped NorthWood’s 17-game winning streak that dated back to a 42-34 loss to Plymouth back on Dec. 15.

“We came a long way this season considering we were 5-3 at one point,” Neff said. “I’m proud of all the girls. The senior played their hearts out.”

It’s the second straight season and the third time in the last four years, the Black Swish has been knocked out of the state tournament by Concordia. A year ago, it was a 53-40 score in the regional championship at Bellmont and in 2010 it was a 45-35 score in the regional finale at Peru.

The loss also prevented Neff from taking over sole possession of first place on the all-time Indiana winningest coach list. Neff has a career record of 634-175 (.784 winning percentage) in 36 seasons and is tied with Donna Cheatum of Scottsburg who is 634-203 (.757) in 38.

Neff pointed to a crucial call early in the fourth period that went against the Black Swish as being a factor in changing the momentum. NorthWood had a five-point lead at 7:13 when Olson drove to the basket and scored, but instead of the NW lead increasing to seven points she was called for an offensive foul and the basket was disallowed.

“That was a pivotal call,” the coach said. “We should have been up by seven, but Concordia gets the ball and cuts the lead to five. But we still had our chances. We had some untimely turnovers late in the game, some untimely missed free throws and that untimely official’s call.”

The Black Swish committed eight of their 16 turnovers in the second half as were 5-of-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

Concordia found ways to score on the NorthWood defense in the fourth. After holding the Cadets to nine points over the middle two periods Concordia tallied 19 in the fourth.

“We knew it would be a low scoring game since both teams play such good defense,” Neff said.

The Cadets packed their defense inside in an attempt to slowdown Olson and 6-1 senor Savannah Bley.

“We have good quickness and we had to use that,” Miller said. “We had trouble matching NorthWood’s size. Because of their size we sagged off a couple of players. Against a team like NorthWood you have to give up a couple of things in an effort to take others away.

“Smith has good quickness and I thought she did a good job on NorthWood’s No. 20 (5-11 sophomore Jordyn Frantz). She (Frantz) has the ball in her hands a lot and Smith made it difficult for her to setup the NorthWood offense.”

Frantz finished the game with seven points, three assists and two steals.

“Jordyn went home sick during Thursday’s practice,” Neff said. “(Five-eight junior) Taylor Fielstra sprained an ankle in practice on Monday and she wasn’t able to go again until Thursday.”

Olson did her best to keep the Black Swish going in the tournament. She finished the game with 21 points and 10 rebounds, her fourth consecutive double-double in the tourney.

“Morgan is tough on the inside, but we also had it tough getting the ball into her,” Neff said.

Over the final 1:43 of the game Olson and Hahn were the only two players to score. Hahn netted her team’s last six points, She drilled two free throws at :29 to give the Cadets a 38-34 lead and one at :17 for a 39-37 before hitting her dramatic heartbreaker.

Bley scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Black Swish.

Smith topped the Cadets with 13 points, followed by 5-8 sophomore Dejour Young 10 and Hahn nine.

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