Niles edged in double overtimePublished 11:07pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The youth-laden Niles girls basketball team came within four seconds Tuesday night of what would have been its first victory of the season.
Enter New Buffalo senior Zoe Lauricella.
Lauricella buried a 3-point bomb from the right baseline with four ticks remaining in overtime, and New Buffalo eventually escaped with a 52-49 victory in double-overtime over coach Pat Touhey’s Lady Vikings.
“We’re disappointed,” Touhey said. “It’s a hard discussion to have with the kids (after the game) when you’re so close to putting the game away.”
Niles (0-3) certainly had its chances down the stretch, but couldn’t finish.
The Lady Vikings led 49-47 halfway through the second extra session, but committed consecutive turnovers on their final four possessions to seal their fate.
New Buffalo converted three free throws during the final 54 seconds.
“We’ve been struggling with (turnovers) all year,” added Touhey, whose team turned the ball over 38 times. “Some of that comes with learning and the youth that we have.”
Touhey again started four freshmen, and the Lady Vikings stepped up in the fourth quarter on both ends of the court.
Freshman Elizabeth Moody’s 3-point basket with 3:06 remaining in regulation tied the score at 37-37, and a triple by freshman Maya Brookins just over a minute later staked Niles to the lead.
The Lady Vikings made four consecutive stops on defense down the stretch, before New Buffalo senior Jade Madison turned an offensive rebound into the game-tying layup with 23 seconds left on the clock.
“Down the stretch, a couple of times, they were on the free throw line and missed and we didn’t box the shooter out and they got second and third putbacks,” Touhey said. “Those are focus things that mature teams understand that that play is an important play.
On the heels of Lauricella’s clutch trey that produced the second overtime, Touhey expressed pride in how his team responded to the situation.
“It was a huge shot and it could have put a dagger in our heart going into the second overtime, because we were so close to tasting victory,” he said. “My heart sunk.
“I was wondering whether we would be able to rise to the occasion and have enough in us to overcome that adversity. I think our kids answered the call. They didn’t stop fighting. They wanted that game very badly.
“As far as I’m concerned, they gave their best effort, and to me that defines success. I don’t care that we had three less points than they did at the end of the game. In my eyes, our kids were winners.”
Moody scored a team-high 12 points for Niles, while junior Lashonda Greene chipped in with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
New Buffalo got a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds from Madison.
“Both teams just battled it out and played 100 percent,” New Buffalo coach Candy VanBuskirk said. “Neither side gave up and I was impressed with the poise that the Niles underclassmen played with.”
NEW BUFFALO 52
Zoe Lauricella 7, Jade Madison 22, Kristine Kucera 7, Dana Handley 5, Breanna Workman 4, Chloe Topolski 0, Julia Ritter 0, Liza Kelly 7, Kelsey Tanksley. TOTALS: 17 17-30 52
Jazmin Brinn 0, Maya Brookins 7, Lashonda Greene 11, Elyse Zimmerman 7, Antonia Palmer 0, Kylee Myer 3, Khalilah Abdullah 7, Elizabeth Moody 12, Tala Gentry 2. TOTALS: 19 9-24 49
New Buffalo 8 16 31 39 45 52
Niles 11 19 29 39 45 49
3-point goals: New Buffalo 1 (Laricella), Niles 2 (Brookins, Moody). Total fouls (fouled out): New Buffalo 18 (Workman), Niles 21 (Brookins). Technical fouls: None. JV score: Niles 33, New Buffalo 21.Varsity records: Niles 0-3