Vikes fall one step short
Published 9:17 am Wednesday, December 1, 2004
By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Niles girls basketball team made it clear all season that its goal was to make it to the state finals.
The Vikings' came up just a little short of realizing their dream Tuesday in a 57-45 loss to Lansing Catholic Central in the Class B quarterfinals. Four minutes short to be exact.
In a game that contained enough lead changes and momentum swings to give fans a heart attack, Niles found itself tied with the Cougars with 3:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. But too many turnovers on key possessions sunk the Vikings' championship hopes.
The Vikings had their opportunites. After tying the score late in the fourth on a Kate Whittaker basket, the Cougars' Andrea Doneth missed the first free throw of a one-and-one. With the chance to take the lead, Niles turned the ball over on a bad pass. Lansing Catholic scored on the other end to take the lead for good.
But Niles wasn't out of it. A score on its next possession would have tied the game, but the Vikings again turned the ball over. Doneth nailed two free throws after being fouled, and Niles turned the ball over for the third straight time, as Lansing Catholic put the game out of reach.
The Cougars made sure Niles wouldn't pull another fourth quarter comeback by hitting nine straight free throws down the stretch.
Niles finished with 18 turnovers, while Lansing Catholic had five.
Both coaches agreed that the Cougars' defense in the final three minutes and Niles' inability to hit a shot or stop Lansing Central from doing so were keys to the Cougars' victory.
Early in the game, however, it didn't look like that would be the case. After coming out sluggish and falling behind in two regional games, the Vikings, Brandie Radde in particular, came out on fire Tuesday. Radde hit 5-of-7 shots to start the game, as Niles took a 9-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
While Radde couldn't miss, the Cougars couldn't hit a shot, starting 1-of-5 from the field. Lansing Catholic finished the quarter by making 6-of-8 shots and stepping up its defense, taking a 19-13 lead into the second quarter.
The Vikings fell behind by eight points in the second, but finished the period the way the Cougars ended the first. Niles went on an 11-2 run and held Lansing Catholic to 1-of-12 shooting in the last five minutes of the half. Radde's 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining gave Niles a 26-25 halftime lead, it's first lead since 9-7 in the first quarter.
In the third quarter, Niles raced to a five-point lead a minute into the period. Lansing Catholic used its size inside, however, to regain the lead with 2:29 remaining in the third and never trailed again.
The Vikings enjoyed spurts of scoring, but were never able to maintain a solid run on the Cougars. Lansing Catholic's defense did a good job denying Niles the ball inside. Many of the Vikings' turnovers came when they tried to force the ball inside.
Niles' leading scorer Sarah Dreher was held to 11 points on four field goals, well below her average of more than 18 points per game.
The Vikings finish the season 22-3, their best record since 2001 when they went 22-2 and lost to Paw Paw in the regional finals. Niles losses four seniors from this year's team, two starters, but retain its two leading scorers, juniors Dreher and Radde.
Lansing Catholic (57) - Molly Hackney 5 7-7 17, Teresa DeLuca 2 0-0 6, Andrea Doneth 6 6-11 20, Erin Sachau 0 0-0 0, Annie Earls 2 0-3 4, Ashley Palmerton 0 1-2 1, Katie Lambert 3 1-1 7, Anna Pgoncheff 1 0-0 2, Jennifer Hendrix 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 15-24 57.
Niles (45) - Brandie Radde 7 0-0 16, Melissa Olsen 1 0-0 2, Sarah Dreher 4 3-4 11, Kate Whittaker 5 2-3 12, Amber Peters 1 0-0 2, Megan Scameheorn 0 0-0 0, Jessica Shinsky 1 0-0 2, Ashley Pingel 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 5-7 45.
3-pointers: Lansing 4 (Doneth 2, DeLuca 2), Niles 2 (Radde 2). Fouls (fouled out): Lansing 14 (none), Niles 19 (Peters). Rebounds: Lansing 18 (Doneth 6), Niles 22 (Dreher 8). Records: Lansing 23-3, Niles 22-3.