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NorthWood girls lose a regional heartbreaker

Panther coach Steve Neff ends 37-year career with stunning loss.

Posted on Feb. 22, 2014 at 3:58 p.m.

DECATUR — No one would blame Steve Neff for never wanting to see Bellmont High School again.

Ever.

And it has really nothing to do with the school. But in back-to-back regional basketball trips, Neff’s NorthWood Panthers have lost two heartbreaking games — each with no time on the clock.

Last season, it was a half-court buzzer beater by Fort Wayne Concordia. On Saturday, Feb. 22, it was a free throw after time expired by Norwell’s Laken Chaney which eliminated the Panthers in a wild 55-54 semifinal.

"Fitting end to my career. It gives me something to think about for the next how many years. It won’t be 37," said Neff, the state’s winningest girls high school basketball coach, who ended a stellar 37-year run on the NorthWood bench.

With 3.9 seconds left and the game tied at 54, Chaney took an inbounds pass, streaked up the right sidelines and fired up a leaning, off-balance desperation shot toward the basket. As the horn sounded, a foul was called.

Chaney, standing at the foul stripe as the lone player on the floor, calmly sank her first free throw, ending a frenzied back-and-forth struggle. She finished with 21 points.

"I don’t think we fouled her, either. It wasn’t a shot," Neff said. "The girls are sad, especially those four seniors. There were a lot of key plays. You can’t go by the last one."

Junior Jordyn Frantz and senior Morgan Olson ended their careers by combining for 42 points and 13 rebounds for the Panthers, who ended at 19-6.

For Neff, who leaves the game with a remarkable 653-181 record and 24 sectional championships, loss No. 181 will be a bitter pill to swallow.

"What can you say? They tried their hardest," said Neff. "It’s one of those where you remember ... that one will stick in my craw for a long time. If you get beat by 20, that doesn’t stick in your craw. Even the half-court shot. But when there’s no time on the clock ... that’ll stick in my craw for a long time."

 

Class 3A Bellmont Regional

NORWELL 55, NORTHWOOD 54

Norwell — Laken Chaney 7-12 6-8 21, Mackenzie Sawyer 2-10 0-0 6 Stephanie Conrad 3-5 4-4 10, Kelsey Beer 2-4 2-4 6, Kaycee Strunk 2-7 1-2 5, Hanna Smith 1-5 4-4 7, Liara Isnogle 0-1 0-0 7 . Totals: 17-44 17-20 55..

NorthWood— Morgan Olson 7-9 3-4 17, Taylor Fielstra 0-4 1-2 1, Tiffanie Alexander 1-4 0-0 2, Haley Roe 1-5 0-1 2, Jordyn Frantz 7-14 7-8 25, Tori Schwartz 1-2 0-0 3, Ashley Yoder 1-2 0-2 2, Inger Yoder 0-0 0-0 0, Shyla Southern 0-0 2-3 2, Andrea Tuttle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-40 13-20 54.

Scoring By Quarters

Norwell— 10 16 14 15 — 55

NorthWood — 8 16 17 13 — 54

3-point goals: Norwell (4-13) — Sawyer 2-7, Chaney 1-1, Smith 1-6; NorthWood (5-7) — Frantz 4-5, Schwartz 1-1, Fielstra 0-1.

Rebounds: Norwell (22) — Smith 8, Conrad 5; NorthWood (27) — Olson 7, Frantz 6.

Turnovers: Norwell 10, NorthWood 15.

Total fouls: Norwell 19, NorthWood 22. Fouled out — Strunk, Alexander.

Officials: Cary Schick, Derek Hill, Kurt Sundling.

Records: NorthWood 19-6 (final), Norwell 19-5.




 Elkhart Titans tryouts scheduled for Aug. 30.

Posted on Aug. 26, 2014 at 9:52 a.m.
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