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Panthers rally past unbeaten Warsaw

Panthers have won 13 straight girls basketball games; Neff within one of Cheatham.
Posted on Jan. 27, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

NAPPANEE — NorthWood’s unusually sloppy first half left the Panthers undeterred. Because of it, Warsaw’s no longer undefeated.

The Panthers punctuated Senior Night by knocking off the previously unbeaten Tigers 34-30 in front of about 1,200 fans Saturday at The Pit.

“The mood wasn’t very good at halftime,” senior Savannah Bley said of NorthWood trailing 23-16 with 16 turnovers at the break. “The second half we started running offense better, moving the ball, and played tough defense. We just came out really motivated after that first half.”

Enough so that the Panthers held the Tigers, averaging 54 points a game, to a mere seven over the final two quarters.

“We challenged the girls at halftime,” NorthWood coach Steve Neff said after collecting his 630th victory to move within one of Scottsburg’s Donna Cheatham for the all-time girls state lead.

“I didn’t think we played a very patient first half,” Neff said. “We weren’t going after rebounds or loose balls. We played scared. We didn’t play so scared the second half. I still don’t know why we didn’t do some things offensively we normally do, but Warsaw’s got a great team. It was typical NorthWood-Warsaw. Both teams missed shots, but it was intense, and that’s what you want before the sectional.”

The Panthers improved to 18-3 (4-2 Northern Lakes Conference) with their 13th straight win, their best streak in seven years, while the No. 11-rated NLC champion Tigers dropped to 18-1 (6-1). Each team has one regular-season game remaining.

Bley and Morgan Olson scored 11 points apiece for NorthWood, with Olson collecting 13 rebounds.

Down 25-16 in the opening minute of the third period, the Panthers scored 10 straight points to lead 26-25 entering the fourth.

There were four lead changes in the final quarter, capped by Olson scoring on an offensive rebound with 2:03 left.

At 58 seconds left, Bley alertly drove the baseline out of a spread offense for a 32-29 NorthWood lead.

At 17 ticks left, Olson swished a pair of free throws to effectively clinch the outcome at 34-30.

“I feel so blessed,” Bley said. “Senior Night, Warsaw undefeated. I couldn’t ask for a better night.”

NorthWood 34, Warsaw 30

Warsaw — Nikki Grose 3-7 0-0 6, Lindsay Baker 3-9 2-4 8, Jennifer Walker-Crawford 5-14 0-0 10, Eryn Leek 1-5 0-0 2, Melanie Holladay 2-6 0-0 4, Brooklyn Harrison 0-4 0-0 0, Sarah Ray 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 14-47 (.298) 2-4 (.500) 30.

NorthWood — Morgan Olson 4-13 3-5 11, Taylor Fielstra 2-4 0-1 5, Savannah Bley 3-5 5-6 11, Jordyn Frantz 1-8 0-0 2, Maddie Schwartz 1-2 0-0 3, Taylor Stutzman 1-3 0-0 2, Inger Yoder 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 12-37 (.324) 8-12 (.667) 34.

Scoring By Quarters

Warsaw 10 13 2 5 — 30

NorthWood 6 10 10 8 — 34

3-point goals: Warsaw (0-10); NorthWood (2-9) — Fielstra 1-1, Schwartz 1-2.

Rebounds:Warsaw (25) — Grose 9, Walker-Crawford 8; NorthWood (36) — Olson 13, Bley 6, Frantz 6.

Assists: Warsaw (11) — Grose 4, Baker 3; NorthWood (5) — Frantz 4.

Steals: Warsaw (8) — Harrison 3; NorthWood (4) — Frantz 2.

Turnovers: Warsaw 12, NorthWood 21.

Fouls: Warsaw 13, NorthWood 8. Fouled out — none.

Officials: Justin Shippy, Kent Denlinger, Keith Denlinger.

Records: Warsaw 18-1 (6-1 NLC), NorthWood 18-3 (4-2 NLC).

Next: SB Riley at Warsaw Thursday; NorthWood at Concord Friday.

JV: Warsaw 24, NorthWood 22. Top scorers: Warsaw — Courtney Farling 10; NorthWood — Kaylee Haynes 7. JV records: Warsaw 16-3, NorthWood 15-4.




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