By GREG KEIM
NAPPANEE — Try as they might it was just too difficult for the Fairfield Falcons to stay with the No. 3-ranked NorthWood Black Swish Friday night in the semifinals of the Class 3A girls high school basketball sectional at NorthWood.
The Falcons held a 5-3 lead at 5:23 of the first period following a 3-pointer by junior Brooke Mast. NorthWood tied the score on a rebound basket by junior Morgan Olson at 5:03. The Black Swish then ripped off six straight points and went on to a 16-7 lead and ultimately a 58-29 victory.
“The thing we had talked about was not letting NorthWood get out to a big early lead,” Fairfield coach Brodie Garber said. “A young team like us can’t afford to let a veteran team like NorthWood get up on us.
“NorthWood has three legitimate college players on their team.”
NorthWood senior Savannah Bley will be playing at Taylor University next season while Olson and sophomore Jordyn Frantz are both being heavily recruited.
In the second game, the West Noble Chargers defeated the Lakeland Lakers 60-49.
NorthWood (21-3) and West Noble (16-7) will square off in the sectional championship tonight at 7:30.
After taking its nine-point lead in the first quarter, NorthWood went on to hold a 37-9 advantage at halftime.
“I was happy with the way we played in the first half,” NorthWood coach Steve Neff said. “We started out a little slow and it took a couple of possessions before we got things rolling. I’ll take 37 points in a half any time. That set the tone for the game.”
Olson had another huge game for the Black Swish with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
“We have a bit of experience on Fairfield,” Neff said. “Brodie (Garber) has a nice club. Fairfield had a good season considering all the injuries and youth they are dealing with.”
NorthWood got off to a good start from beyond the 3-point line in the first period as Frantz connected twice and junior Taylor Fielstra once in the opening period. The Black Swish had six treys in the contest with two apiece from Frantz, Fielstra and senior Maddie Schwartz.
“Anyone that thinks they can pack it inside to stop our big players has got to think about the outside shooting as well,” Neff said. “We have got the players who have the confidence to hit from out there.”
Frantz tossed in 12 points for the Black Swish and dished out seven assists.
“Jordyn does a great job seeing the floor and running the offense,” Neff said.
Schwartz chipped in with eight points.
“I think that is a career high for her,” Neff said. “We had trouble getting her to shoot at times. We had to scream at her a couple of times to shoot the ball.”
Mast scored eight points, junior Jenna Kieper seven and sophomore Katie Yeats six to lead the Falcons.
“We have gotten better as a team since we played NorthWood during the regular season,” Garber said. “The nice thing about this team is they are all back next season, but I told them after the game that if a year from now we are just better as a team that isn’t going to be good enough. Not all coaches can say this but this is a group I would like to have all back next year.”
The Falcons finish 13-9.
West Noble led Lakeland 18-9 at the end of the first period, 32-21 at halftime and 44-35 after three periods.
Junior Kelsie Peterson scored 17 points, senior Haley Richardson 13 and senior Kohdee Hicks 12 for the Chargers. Samantha Thompson tossed in 20 points, junior Ashtin Kaminer and classmate Michaela Moore both eight for Lakeland.
The Lakers finish 5-16.
By GREG KEIM
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