Niles snaps eight-game losing streak
NILES — The Niles boys and girls varsity basketball teams opened the final month of regular season play with wins Friday night at home against Portage Northern.
The Lady Vikings posted a 46-31 win over the Huskies, while the boys snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 62-52 victory.
Jumping to a 15-2 lead in the first quarter was the spark of motivation Niles needed to carry it through a successful game.
By halftime, the Vikings’ defense held Portage Northern to single digit scoring, taking a 23-7 lead into the second half.
“We came out ready to play today,” Niles coach Jessica Johnson said. “The girls were in sync, the subbing transitions were smooth and the entire team effort was there.”
Niles did encounter a few hurdles in the third quarter, adding just six points to its own score and allowing Northern to come within 10 points of the lead.
Although comfortable with the 29-15 lead entering the fourth, Johnson said her team always has that one quarter that haunts them.
“When you lose the motivation you had, it shifts momentum to the other team and that’s one thing we keep seeing time and time again,” Johnson said. “We’re getting better, but the consistency is still not there yet.”
Top scorers for Niles were Alycia Patterson with 12, Reese Davies with 11 and Lajan Mitchell with nine.
The Lady Vikes improve to 6-8 overall, 5-8 in the SMAC West Division league.
A 7-0 run in the first 90 seconds of its match-up with Portage Northern pushed Niles’ boys team to a much-needed victory.
The Vikings never allowed the Huskies a lead, ending the first quarter up 19-13, the second 30-22 and the third 45-33.
It appeared Niles would walk away with a fairly easy win until Portage Northern came out with a vengeance in the fourth.
Going on an 8-0 run, the Huskies cut the lead to a nail-biting three points, 45-42, with five minutes to play.
Baskets continued to fall in favor of both teams, but it was Trey Gatson’s 3-point shot with 2:41 left that helped boost the Viking offense.
Having no choice but to foul for the remaining minute, Portage Northern put Niles on the free throw line six times, where it went 9-for-11 to claim the win.
“We got off to a great start tonight and hit the shots we needed to hit,” Niles coach Todd Pawielski said. “Also shared the ball the way we needed to and had a strong defensive game. I’m proud of the guys, they played well.”
Robert Brown Jr. led the Vikings with 17 points, while Chad Barton, Austin Brookins and Gatson each had 10.
“Chad, Austin, Trey … they all did great,” Pawielski said. “Their shots hit. They were confident, and I was pleased with their performances.”
Niles stands at 4-9 overall, 2-5 in the SMAC West Division league.
Both teams are home Tuesday night against Gull Lake.
The girls game begins at 5:45 p.m. with the boys contest to follow at approximately 7:15.
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