Vikings hold off HuskiesPublished 11:36pm Tuesday, February 7, 2012
It was a night for the seniors at Niles High School Tuesday.
With only one remaining home game, the Vikings honored their senior class and it delivered against Portage Northern.
Niles was 11-of-13 in the fourth quarter from the free throw line as it held off the visiting Huskies 51-48 in Big 16 West Division girls basketball action.
The Vikings (4-12, 2-8 West) shoot less than 50 percent from the free throw line as a team, but on this night they were red hot and needed every one of them.
Niles finished 13-of-18 from the charity stripe. Seniors Taylor Brandstatter, Maureen Craig and Michelle Briand combined to hit 11 of those attempts. That trio also combined for 44 of the Vikings’ 51 points.
Down the stretch, Craig was 3-for-4 and Alexis Arnold hit two with 7.2 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Vikings.
“Taylor Brandstatter was big at the free throw with the shots that she made,” Niles coach Patrick Touhey said. “You know what? Lexi Arnold with those two shots she made at the end gave us a five point spread were two big shots.
“I told coach (Pat) Brandstatter as the game was closing down to the last minute or so, we are either going to win or lose one from the free throw line. If we make our free throws, we will be okay. We will win the game.”
Senior Night couldn’t have started out any better for the Vikings as Niles scored the first nine points of the contest, all by seniors, in the game’s opening two minutes.
Briand opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the contest and she ended the 9-0 run with a drive to the basket with 6:04 showing on the first quarter clock.
Niles would go cold over the next five minutes, finally scoring again with 1:19 left in the quarter on a basket by Craig.
Leading 11-4, Brandstatter completed the senior dominated quarter with a basket to end the first period scoring and leaving the Vikings with a 13-4 advantage.
Both teams struggled at the offensive end in the second quarter.
The Huskies were able to get the better of it on the scoreboard and cut the Niles lead to 23-17 by halftime. Portage Northern held a 13-10 advantage in the scoring department in the second quarter.
For the third straight quarter, Briand opened the scoring for the Vikings with a basket.
When Arnold canned a 3-pointer, the lead reached 10 points, 31-21.
Over the final four minutes of the quarters, the Vikings and Huskies combined for just 12 points.
The result was a 38-26 advantage for Niles heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Portage Northern scored the first two baskets of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 38-30 with six minutes left to play in the game.
A basket by Lashonda Greene gave the Vikings back their 10-point lead, 40-30, with 5:20 showing on the clock.
The Huskies were not through though.
A 3-pointer by Katelyn Niefert with 3:15 to play in the game cut the Vikings’ advantage to 46-37.
Niles immediately called a time out.
Following a pair of Brandstatter free throws, Portage Northern scored and hit one of two free throws with 2:27 to play to cut the lead down to 44-40.
The Vikings turned the ball over on its next possession.
Karli Fisher made it a two-point contest, 44-42, with two minutes to play, but at the other end she fouled Craig, who connected on both free throws to extend Niles’ advantage back to four points.
Maddie Franks hit two baskets in the final two minutes to keep the Huskies within striking distance. But in the end, it was the Vikings’ free throw shooting that was the difference.
Brandstatter finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Craig added 16 points, eight steals and three assists, while Briand finished with 11 points and four rebounds.
Franks led all scorers with 18 points for Portage Northern. Natalie Visard added 11.
PORTAGE NORTHERN 48
Katelyn Niefert 1 1-2 4; Casey Shauman 0 2-2 2; Rachael Horton 3 0-0 6; Karli Fisher 0 1-2 1; Maddie Franks 7 4-6 18; Natalie Visard 4 306 11; Maggie Woolley 0 0-0 0; Ashley Dentler 3 0-1 6. TOTALS: 18 11-17 48
Taylor Brandstatter 6 4-6 17; Jackie Grooms 0 0-0 0; Kylee Myers 0 0-0 0; Alexis Arnold 1 2-2 5; Maureen Craig 4 6-9 16; Anna Sikkink 0 0-0 0; Lashonda Greene 1 0-0 2; Michelle Briand 5 1-1 11. TOTALS: 17 13-18 51
Portage Northern 4 17 26 48
Niles 13 23 38 51
3-point baskets: Portage Northern 1 (Niefert), Niles 4 (Brandstatter, Arnold, Craig 2). Total fouls (fouled out): Portage Northern 16 (none), Niles 16 (Briand). Varsity records: Portage Northern 2-14, 0-10 West; Niles 4-12, 2-8 West