Lady Vikings rally for regional championship

Published 8:53 am Thursday, November 25, 2004

Niles Daily Star
BATTLE CREEK - A 16-point halftime deficit? That's nothing for the Niles Vikings.
For the second game in a row, Niles' girls' basketball team came from behind to claim victory Wednesday night, this time a 53-50 victory over Otsego in the Class B regional finals.
Niles fell behind 15-10 in the first quarter before the Bulldogs got serious. They outscored the Vikings 20-9 in the second period to take a 35-19 lead into halftime. The Vikings fell behind 15-3 to Marshall on Monday in their regional semifinal match before winning.
After a motivational halftime chat with head coach Jim Arnold, Niles came out inspired in the third quarter. It was their high-pressure zone defense that forced the Bulldogs to make errors and allow the Vikings back into the game.
Otsego committed five turnovers in the period, compared to four all of the first half.
Niles also started using its size inside in the third period to gain an advantage. Sarah Dreher hit for nine points in the quarter, and the Vikings scored 19 points after scoring that many in the first two quarters.
Though their defense was tough, the Vikings were still in a hole to start the fourth, trailing 44-38. But an 8-1 run to start the period pulled Niles to within one point.
With 1:39 left to play, Niles had the ball trailing by three. Brandie Radde missed a jump shot, but Kate Whittaker was there to corral the offensive rebound. As she put the ball back in, she was fouled, then hit her free throw to complete the three-point play and tie the game.
After Otsego missed a shot at it end, Amber Peters grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 1:04 to go. She hit both her shots from the line to give the Vikings their first lead since it was 5-3 early in the first quarter.
A desperation 3-pointer in the final seconds fell short for Otsego, and Niles tacked on another free throw to complete the comeback win, 53-50.
After scoring 35 first half points, the Bulldogs scored 15 in the second half to Niles' 34. Dreher led Niles in scoring for the third straight game with 22 points. Radde and Peters added 10 a piece.
The Vikings play in the state quarterfinals Tuesday at Caledonia High School.