Niles splits games with Portage NorthernPublished 7:01am Saturday, February 16, 2013
Niles split a Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West Division doubleheader Friday night against visiting Portage Northern.
In the first game, the youth-laden Lady Vikings were unable to solve the Huskies’ pressure defense and committed 33 turnovers en route to a 49-35 setback. Niles senior Alec Brown had another monster game for the Vikings in the boys game, scoring 28 points in a 68-54 victory.
Clad in pink uniforms as a tribute to those who have either battled cancer, or lost their fight to the disease, the Lady Vikings rallied in the fourth quarter, before falling for the 18th time in as many outings this season.
Trailing, 38-24 entering the fourth quarter, Niles scored seven unanswered points and held the Huskies without a point for the first five minutes of the final stanza. During that stretch, the Lady Vikings forced nine turnovers by the Huskies and held Northern to just one shot.
But the visitors responded with an 11-4 scoring run of their own, and held Niles scoreless for a span of just over three minutes.
The third quarter was pivotal to Northern’s eventual margin of victory. The Huskies, who led, 21-17 at halftime, turned up their defensive intensity and scored 13 of their 17 points following 14 turnovers by the Lady Vikings.
“We struggled with that press the entire second half,” Niles coach Pat Touhey said. “Our kids were very overwhelmed by it. You can’t win basketball games giving up that many turnovers. We’re not strong enough to work through double-teams. As a whole, in that second half, we did an absolutely terrible job.”
And yet Touhey was quick to point out that his young team was never really out of the contest, either.
“We were never out of the game,” he added. “How do you get 20 turnovers in a half, and still hang around somehow? Our half-court defense has gotten pretty good, so in a regular offensive scheme it’s become pretty hard to score against us. Teams have learned that maybe the best way to score against us is to get us to turn the ball over and get easy baskets.”
Freshman Libby Moody had another solid game for the Lady Vikings, scoring a team-high 15 points, to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman Elyse Zimmerman chipped in with six points and 10 rebounds, and Niles shot 26 percent from the field (13 of 50).
Niles outrebounded the taller Huskies by a 37-28 margin.
“It’s very difficult for me to get upset with them, because they work so hard and find ways to hang around,” Touhey said. “My hat goes off to these kids. I love them to death.”
Northern got a game-high 17 points and a team-high nine rebounds from Maddie Franks, while Natalie Vizard added 13 points.
In the nightcap, Niles saw a double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter be whittled down to three points, 53-50, before responding with a charge of its own.
An old-fashioned 3-point play by Brown and a clutch 3-point bomb by junior Tate Brawley capped a 9-0 scoring run by the Vikings and effectively sealed the Huskies’ fate with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
The win was the second straight for Niles (5-11) and served as a fitting tribute to the seven seniors who were playing their final game at home.
“It’s nice to send the seniors out in this fashion,” Niles coach Todd Pawielski said. “They’ve worked hard, they’ve come a long way and we’re very proud of what they did tonight.”
After dialing long-distance with 13 triples in a win earlier in the week against South Bend Riley, Niles aggressively attacked the basket throughout the contest against Northern. For their efforts, the Vikings made 40 trips to the free throw line and converted 28 times.
“We said before the game that if the outside shots weren’t going down, let’s make sure we play out of the lane and we did a terrific job of that,” Pawielski added. “I thought we did a nice job of continually attacking. We didn’t want to settle for an easy, long jump shot. We threw it inside, we kept attacking and we were rewarded with a lot of trips to the free throw line.”
Brown was credited with 18 points from the 15-foot stripe on 21 total attempts, drawing the praise of his coach.
“Alec did a real nice job of attacking the rim tonight, whether it was in the half-court or in transition,” Pawielski said. Brown also added three assists and three steals.
Brawley’s 12 points also included a buzzer-beating triple to end the third quarter, and the Vikings shot 39.5 percent afield (17 of 43). Niles committed just 11 turnovers, but was outrebounded by a 39-33 margin.
“Northern was mean (inside); they did a nice job,” Pawielski said. “There were times when we had to box out a little better than we did, but I certainly enjoyed watching the physicality from both sides. It reminded me the way basketball used to be played.”
The Huskies got a team-high 13 points in a reserve role by Adam Ashbaugh.
PORTAGE NORTHERN 49
Emily Juzwiak 2, Natalie Vizard 13, Ally Rabe 9, Karli Fisher 3, Maddie Franks 17, Olivia Pfund 0, Emma Valentine 2, Maggie Woolley 2, Rae Herbert 1. Totals: 13 22-30 49
Khalilah Abdullah 3, Elyse Zimmerman 6, Maya Brookins 2, Kylee Myer 4, Jazmin Brann 4, Jaiden Rolan 0, Libby Moody 15, Antonia Palmer 1, Kasia Dockery 0. Totals: 13 8-12 35
Northern 14 21 38 49
Niles 8 17 24 35
3-point field goals: Portage Northern 1 (Rabe), Niles 1 (Moody). Team fouls (fouled out): Portage Northern 17 (none), Niles 21 (Abdullah, Zimmerman). Niles record: Niles 0-18
PORTAGE NORTHERN 54
Brandon Bye 5, Daiveon Carlisle 9, Brandon Smith 2, Blake Therrian 6, Josh Dentler 4, Nick Keizer 9, Collin Darling 6, Tyler Cummings 0, Adam Ashbaugh 13, Steve Tagett 0, Jordan Thrash 0, Patrick O’Keefe 0, James White 0, Andrew Stone 0. Totals: 22 7-15 54
Tate Brawley 12, Cole Clemens 0, Alec Brown 28, Mitch Dehn 5, Anthony Bice 0, Gabe Stokes 2, Matt Miller 3, Jesse Jordan 8, David Haynes 0, Connor Glick 4, Jeremy Wortham 6. Totals: 17 28-40 68
Northern 13 26 41 54
Niles 16 37 49 68
3-point field goals: Portage Northern 3 (Carlisle, Ashbaugh 2), Niles 4 (Brawley 2, Brown 2). Team fouls (fouled out): Portage Northern 29 (None), Niles 15 (None). Rebounds: Portage Northern 39, Niles 33. Turnovers: Portage Northern 15, Niles 11. Niles record: 5-11