MIDDLEBURY — Lindsy Kline's experience and moxie will be a key component to the success of this year's Penn basketball team.
Tuesday night, in the Kingsmen's showdown against unbeaten Northridge, Kline was nothing short of sensational as No. 9 Penn defeated the No. 14 Raiders 50-44.
Kline had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, as the Kingsmen improved to 11-1 on the year. She also hit two huge free throw with 32 seconds to play that gave Penn a five point lead.
"Lindsy was the difference tonight,'' Northridge coach Doug Springer said. "She's very battle-tested and won't get flustered because she's seen it all in her time at Penn. We forced her to take some tough shots against our 1-3-1 zone and she hit most of them. You really have to give her credit.''
Kline, the only senior on a young Penn team, took it upon herself to keep the Kingsmen together when junior center Tia Chambers, another player from last year's Class 4A state title team, was sidelined with what looked like a serious knee injury early in the fourth quarter.
"I knew I needed to keep everyone going when Tia went down and I wanted to have the ball in my hands,'' Kline said. "I'm the one with a lot of experience and this is my last time to play in some of these big games, so I wanted to help us win.''
Penn's biggest lead of the night was eight, which came after a Kline jumper to open the fourth quarter, and again with 3:55 to play (45-37) on a layup from junior Sara Doi.
Following a timeout, the Raiders made in interesting.
Northridge (12-1) cut the lead to 46-43 with 41 seconds to go when junior Brooke McKinley hit a tough layup in traffic.
But after missing two free throws less than a minute earlier, Kline drilled two freebies at the 0:32 mark to push the lead back to five.
"Those were big,'' Penn coach Kristi Ulrich said. "Lindsy has been a great leader for us all season and she was that tonight and hit some big shots to get us going early.''
After a Julaine Miller free throw for the Raiders, freshman Reganne Pate finished things off for Penn with two shots from the stripe at 19 seconds to play.
"We're not about to hang our heads. We went toe-to-toe with one of the best programs in the state and just came up a little bit short,'' Springer said. "We were able to weather a few storms when they would make a run and come back at them, so I'm proud of our girls for that. This was just a great high school basketball game.''
Both teams shot from the gate in the first quarter, as Penn hit 8-of-10 from the field to take a 20-14 lead and Kline scored nine of the points.
The Raiders cut the lead to four by halftime, but never got closer than three the rest of the way.
"I thought we really showed a lot of patience against their zone, which helped us get some good looks,'' Ulrich said. "Northridge does a lot of things really well and they are a really good basketball team, so for us to get a win on the road is great.''
Pate backed Kline with 11 points, with all three of her field goals coming from beyond the arc, while Sara Doi had 10. Chambers had nine points and seven rebounds before her injury.
Ulrich said it's too early to tell how bad the injury is.
McKinley scored 16 points to lead Northridge, while Kelsey Brickner added 11.
"Hey, we're 12-1 and we'll take this game and learn from it,'' Springer said. "Our goal wasn't to go undefeated, so all the goals we've set are still out there.''
PENN 50, NORTHRIDGE 44
Penn: Kelsi Carrico 0-0 0-0 0, Sara Doi 4-7 1-4 10, Reganne Pate 3-5 2-2 11, Tia Chambers 4-6 1-2 9, Lindsy Kline 8-10 2-5 19, Makenzie Kilmer 0-1 0-0 0, Antreese Shelton 0 1-2 1. Totals: 19-32 (.594) 7-15 (.463) 50.
Northridge: Kelsey Brickner 2-6 7-9 11, Melinda Bontrager 1-2 0-0 3, Julaine Miller 2-4 1-2 7, Brooke McKinley 5-8 3-4 16, Marci Miller 0-2 0-0 0, Morgan Litwiller 2-4 2-4 7, Ashley Beckler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-26 (.462) 13-19 (.688) 44.
Scoring By Quarters
3-point goals: Penn (5) - Pate 3, Kline, Doi; Northridge (7) - McKinley 3, J. Miller 2, Litwiller, Bontrager.
Rebounds: Penn (22) - Chambers 7, Kline 7; Northridge (14) - Brickner 8.
Assists: Penn (8) - Kline 5; Northridge (5) - Bontrager 2.
Turnovers: Penn 11, Northridge 16.
Fouls: Penn 16, Northridge 12.
Records: Penn 11-1, Northridge 12-1.
JV: Penn 41, Northridge 35. Top scorers: Penn - Antreese Shelton 12; Northridge - Sierra Miller 12.