Niles girls come up short
Published 11:54 pm Friday, December 10, 2010
Despite a career-high 35 points from senior guard Nichole Sly, Niles was unable to hold off Mattawan in the second half Friday night in a 63-60 Big 16 West Division loss.
Niles led 9-3 early on, but the Wildcats were able to catch the Vikings at the end of each of the first two quarters, forcing a 29-29 deadlock at the intermission.
Behind the play of Sly, who scored 21 of Niles’ first 29 points, the Vikings were able to stay with Mattawan in the second half, but couldn’t contain sophomore standout Allie Havers and senior guard Alyssa McBride down the stretch.
Mattawan outscored Niles 14-8 in the third quarter to open up a 43-37 advantage heading to the final period.
But Niles wouldn’t let the Wildcats out of reach. The Vikings kept chipping away at the lead and cut Mattawan’s advantage down to two on several occasions.
Each time, the Wildcats found a way to extend their advantage with an easy basket or free throws.
Alexis McIntee cut the lead to 53-51 with 4:35 remaining, but on its next possession, Mattawan got a three-point play from Havers to make it 54-51.
McIntee completed a three-point play on the following Niles possession to make it 56-52 and Sly canned a basket to cut the lead to 56-54 with 2:03 to play. The Vikings were finally able to reclaim the lead with 1:49 showing on the clock as Sly buried a deep 3-pointer.
A Havers’ bucket 21 seconds later gave Mattawan the lead back at 58-57.
Then came the most important and controversial play of the night.
McIntee was fouled with 49.5 seconds remaining and then called for a technical foul on the play after she and Havers, who had fouled out, got tangled up.
McIntee hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 58-58, but McBride’s pair of free throws at the other end gave the lead back to the Wildcats for good.
Niles was only able to manage two more free throws over the final 49 seconds, while Mattawan 5-of-8 free throws to ice the game.
“I told our kids they are warriors,” Niles coach Patrick Touhey said. “You look at Mattawan with a Havers and a McBride. To a man they were probably bigger and more physical than we were and then you put two players like that in the mix it’s tough. You also deal with a bench that is inexperienced in that kind of game like ours is and to ask those kids to play those kinds of minutes and be intense, physical and to be as strong as they were mentally wore on us.
“We were physically exhausted. I call a time out and just asked them to dig down and try to hold onto this thing so that we would have a chance at the end. And they just do it. They are so competitive. They hate to lose,” he added.
Sly’s 35 points are second highest in Niles history as the tied Timothea Clemmers’ 1991 output. Sarah Dreher is the school’s all-time leading scorer for a single game with 39. Sly also had eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“Tonight was her best performance of the year,” Touhey said of Sly. “Tonight she really came to play. She’s somewhat better in respect to her health. She has been playing very sick since the beginning of the year. So she’s not really 100 percent yet, but she’s better.”
McIntee finished with 11 points and Savannah Wolnik added eight points, six rebounds and three steals. Maureen Craig chipped in with five points and Michelle Briand five rebounds.
McBride led the Wildcats with 22 points, while Havers finished with 11 points in limited action due to foul trouble. Emily Stroh finished with eight.
Kara Harrison 1 0-0 2; Amanda Mohney 2 0-1 4; Alyssa McBride 5 8-10 22; Carly Triestram 0 0-0 0; Kara Kingma 1 3-4 5; Meghan Bogema 1 1-2 3; Emily Stroh 3 2-2 8; Kristen Cargo 2 0-1 4; Kelsie Meade 2 0-1 4; Allie Havers 5 1-3 11. TOTALS: 22 15-24 63
Alexis McIntee 2 6-11 11; Savannah Wolnik 4 0-1 8; Brooke Wilson 0 0-0 0; Maureen Craig 1 2-2 5; Nichole Sly 11 11-14 35; Whitney Ellis 0 0-0 0; Taylor Glick 0 0-0 0; Michelle Briand 0 1-4 1. TOTALS: 18 20-32 60
Mattawan 11 29 43 63
Niles 15 29 37 60
3-point baskets: Mattawan 4 (McBride 4) Niles 3 (Craig, Sly 2). Total fouls: Mattawan 26, Niles 24. Fouled out: Harrison (M), Meade (M), Havers (M), Wolnik (N), Craig (N), Ellis (N). Varsity records: Mattawan 4-0, 1-0 West; Niles 2-2, 0-1 West