Knights no trouble for Niles in district openerPublished 7:52am Tuesday, February 25, 2014
KALAMAZOO — It didn’t take long for Niles to establish control of its Class A girls basketball district opener Monday night against host Kalamazoo Loy Norrix.
About 20 seconds, in fact.
Freshman Emily Gaines knocked down a long 3-point basket to stake the youth-laden Lady Vikings to a lead they would not relinquish, and Niles parlayed defensive intensity into a 53-32 victory at Quiring Gymnasium.
The win improved the Lady Vikings’ overall record to 13-8 and sets up a 7:30 p.m. district semifinal showdown against St. Joseph Wednesday at Loy Norrix.
A year removed from a season that ended with an 0-21 record, Niles coach Patrick Touhey expressed his pride in his team’s growth and progress.
“Last year we wanted to make just a good showing,” he said. “We didn’t really have high expectations, because we had never even won one tournament game.
“I told the girls I thought we were ready and prepared to win a state tournament game. We can only take it one game at a time, but that is the expectation we should have for ourselves.
“When you’re 0-21, you try to stay in the process and stay in the journey and keep their confidence level high. I am just so proud of our kids that they haven’t quit on themselves, first of all, and that they’re really starting to believe that they’re a pretty good basketball team.”
Gaines’ 3-point bomb to open the contest ignited a 10-0 run and the Lady Vikings never looked back.
Niles’ stifling pressure near half-court caused fits for Loy Norrix throughout the contest, much to the delight of Touhey.
“Our biggest asset and advantage was that we thought our half-court traps would give them some trouble and that if we could be successful doing that they were going to have trouble getting into any kind of offensive sync,” Touhey said. “That was really the difference.”
The Lady Vikings forced Loy Norrix into a 36 turnovers by game’s-end and produced 20 points following the miscues.
Gaines and senior Tatyanna Goodson combined for 11 of Niles’ first 13 points of the second quarter and the Lady Vikings led, 26-9 at halftime.
Consecutive triples by Loy Norrix guard Grace Labadie trimmed the Niles lead to as few as 15 points early in the fourth quarter, before a pair of long treys by sophomore Libby Moody extended the Niles lead to more than 20 points.
Gaines scored a team-high 14 points, including three triples, while sophomore Jazmin Brann and Goodson scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“(Goodson’s) backed up two really solid games for us, which is outstanding,” Touhey said. “Mia (Brookins) did a good job of taking care of the basketball when Elyse (Zimmerman) wasn’t in the game and Gaines just hits shots at the most appropriate time for us. She also plays with a lot of poise and composure.”
Niles shot a chilly 29 percent from the field (18 of 63), but did outrebound Loy Norrix by a 46-45 margin. Goodson collected a game-high 15 rebounds.
Labadie scored a game-high 15 points for Loy Norrix. The Lady Knights shot just 21 percent afield (10 of 48).
Niles 53, Loy Norrix 32
Elyse Zimmerman 4, Mia Brookins 0, Tatyanna Goodson 10, Emily Gaines 14, Jazmin Brann 11, Antonia Palmer 4, Kylee Myer 2, Libby Moody 8. Totals: 18 12-21 53
LOY NORRIX 32
Grace Labadie 15, Champagne Bennett 4, Kayla Dekoekkoek 0, Arleyonna Yarbrough 3, Haven Johnson 1, JeNessa Boggan 0, Tzhane Mitchell 7, Hannah Meyers 0, Kiki Buchanan 2, Ja’Zhane Davis 0, Ashantai Hale-Sandifer 0. Totals: 10 8-12 32
Niles 13 26 35 53
Loy Norrix 4 9 16 32
3-point baskets: Niles 5 (Gaines 3, Moody 2), Loy Norrix 4 (Labadie 3, Mitchell). Team fouls (fouled out): Niles 16 (none), Loy Norrix 19 (none). Niles record: 13-8