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Defense leads Niles over Lakeshore

Published 12:32am Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday night was winter homecoming for Niles High School and the Vikings weren’t about to let the Lakeshore Lancers come into their house and steal a victory like they did during the football season, and the fall homecoming.

Taylor Campbell scored big for the Vikings in their win over Lakeshore.
Taylor Campbell scored big for the Vikings in their win over Lakeshore.

The Vikings defense played hard for all four quarters of both games as the home team won both ends of the girl/boy varsity basketball double header. The girls won 53-29 while the boys edged Lakeshore 52-46.

Earlier in the day, the Niles girls found out they would be without senior guard Alex McIntee for the rest of the season as she had torn her ACL and meniscus during the game Friday night against St. Joseph.

“Alex was averaging 12-13 points a game for us, and with her being injured we had to find the points somewhere,” Niles coach Patrick Touhey said. “We challenged the girls to find some points and a couple of the girls really stepped up tonight.”

One of the girls to step up her game tonight was Savannah Wolnik. She put Niles on the scoreboard first as she knocked down one of two from the free throw line, then followed it up with another basket for the first three points for the home team, but the Vikings found themselves in a whole as they trailed the Lancers 9-3 with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter.

The Lady Vikings then buckled down on defense, and found some more of the offense that coach Touhey was looking for as they went on a 9-0 run to take a 12-9 lead. With time running down in the quarter, Lakeshores’ Cam Tyler was able to get free on the baseline and she knocked in the ten-footer as time expired to make it a 12-11 game after one period of play.

Whitney Ellis led the Vikings with four points in the quarter, followed by three each from Wolnik and Maureen Craig.

The Vikings would score the first four points of the second period on baskets by Wolnik and Michelle Briand to extend their lead to 16-11. Lakeshore would finally get on the board with just under five minutes to play in the half as Tyler would once again knock down two points.

But less then 30 seconds later Tylerís night would end. As she was driving to the basket she came down awkwardly and she fell to the floor in obvious pain with an apparent ACL injury of her own.

Leading 16-13, and with Lakeshore struggling to find their offense, Niles took advantage as they scored seven consecutive points, pushing their lead to 23-13. Lakeshore would get two baskets from freshman Lauren Clem to cut the lead to 23-17 at the break, but Niles seemed to be clearly in the drivers seat.

The third quarter was dominated by the Lady Vikings on both ends of the floor as their defense held the Lancers to eight points in the quarter, while their offense would net nineteen led predominantly by their senior star Nicole Sly as she scored 11 of her game high 19 in the period, including seven consecutive, and nine of the teams first eleven.

At the end of three, Niles led Lakeshore 42-25.

The final period was much of the same, as the Lady Vikings would outscore the visitors 11-4 as they cruised to the easy 53-29 victory.

“Savannah Wolnik played her heart out tonight. She did an outstanding job guarding (Kaitlin) Cornwell, and took her completely out of the game,” said Touhey. “She also found some points, and got to the basket. She played the game of her life tonight.”

The Vikings improve to 5-2 in the conference and sit tied atop the West Division with St. Joseph. “Our team defense was fantastic tonight, and I am so proud of these girls. To be sitting tied for first in the conference is not easy, as we are in a tough division,” Touhey continued.

Sly led the way for Niles with 19 points, followed by Wolnik with 11, Craig with 9, and Ellis with 7.

The Lancers were led by Clem with 6, and Tyler, Colleen Carlson and Megan Hiler with 4 each.

In the second game of the double header, defense was once again on the agenda as Lakeshore came out hoping to slow the game down, and make both teams play defense and make the most of scoring opportunities.

“We kept trying to get the tempo up to where we wanted it, but it seemed like every time we did, we would get hit with a reach in or something,” said Nilesí coach Todd Pawielski.

Niles would score first on a basket by Jordan Pottoff, but Lakeshore would answer with a basket by Ryan Avery. Both teams would find baskets hard to come by for the next several minutes before Niles would get a three-point basket from Matt McLaughlin followed by a basket from Zach Prenkert to give the home team the 7-2 lead.

Lakeshores’ Austin Kaiser would score the next five points including a three-point bomb of his own to tie the game at 7-7. Niles would get three points from Miles Busby in the last minute of the quarter, while the Lancers would get one of their own to make the score 10-8 Niles after one period of play.

Both offenses would score a few more points each in the second quarter of play, but still not to the pace that Niles likes to score points.

Busby would lead the way for Niles in the second period as he knocked in 8 of his game high 21, while on the other side of the court, Lakeshoresí Harold Wiggins would sink 7 of his team high 15 over the same stretch of time.

But the home team still held the 22-19 advantage at the break.

After the intermission, and all the homecoming festivities that took place at halftime, both teams once again went to battle.

Prenkert got the Vikings started right away with a nice basket and the foul, as his old fashioned three point play gave Niles a six point lead at 25-19, but the Lancers werenít going away.

Lakeshore cut the Vikings lead to one at 27-26, but the Vikings managed to stretch it back to a five point game 37-32 heading into the final period of play.

A 3-point basket to start the final period by Lakeshoresí Josh Lange cut the lead to 37-35, but Niles would answer with a basket from Prenkert and a free throw from Pottoff to push the lead back to five at 40-35.

After the Lancers would once again narrow the deficit to just one at 40-39, Niles’ Taylor Campbell would take over, as he scored six consecutive points for the Vikings giving Niles a 46-41 lead. Busby and McLaughlin would score the last six points for Niles as they would increase their lead to 52-43. With time winding down in the game, Loren Johnson of the Lancers would knock down a long range bomb that would cut the score to the 52-46 final, but it was too little too late as Niles would get the victory.

“I really liked our energy tonight. I canít say enough about these kids,” Pawielski said. “Matt McLaughlin has been looking forward to this game since he got hurt the last time we played them. Taylor (Campbell) is just a workhorse down low, and Prenkert is having himself a great senior year. He has had times where he was a little too unselfish, but tonight he did a great job of playing to his skills.”

The Vikings were led by Busby with 21, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.

“Miles, what can I say about him, he played great tonight, and we needed him to,” said Pawielski.

The Vikings also had McLaughlin with 9, Prenkert with 7, and Campbell with 6.

Lakeshore was led by Wiggins with 15, Lange and Johnson with 9 each, and Kaiser with 7.

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