Niles girls continues to struggle points as season winds down
NILES — Back-to-back losses suddenly have the Niles girls basketball team just two games about .500 with eight games left in the regular season.
The Vikings have made a habit of getting off to slow starts this season, but Niles usually finds its footing in the second half. That has not been the case the past two games.
In their 39-18 loss to visiting Portage Central (9-3) on homecoming night, the Vikings (7-5) scored just two points in the opening quarter and only eight points the entire second half.
“The turnovers and lack of offense was the cause of our loss tonight,” said Niles Coach Jessica Johnson.
The Vikings couldn’t find their groove offensively, but were able to hold the Mustangs to 11 first half points in hopes to avenge an earlier season 51-33 loss.
In a game that was primarily decided by turnovers, it was the Mustangs who found ways to capitalize and build a second half lead behind a game-high 13 points from Maize Brown.
Niles would be outscored 28-8 after halftime.
Alycia Patterson and Amara Palmer each chipped in five points, Kamryn Patterson and Anyslee Myer both contributed three points.
The Vikings outrebounded the Mustangs 26-24, led by Reese Davies with seven, as well as, more blocks (3-2), led by Alexis Rauch with a pair.
The Vikings travel to Mattawan on Monday.
First-year Niles coach Tyler Dendy has not had the type of season he envisioned for the Niles boys basketball team.
But that may be changing.
On Friday night, even with a 63-51 loss to the Portage Central Mustangs, at homecoming, Dendy said that the young Vikings are starting to move forward.
“As our team continues to be a work in progress, tonight was a huge step forward,” he said.
The Vikings were down early to the Mustangs 18-9 in the first quarter but roared back with 15 points in the second quarter to cut the halftime lead 27-24.
“Defensively we did very well in the second quarter,” Dendy said. “Our shots started to fall as well unlike the first quarter.”
The physical maturity and experience on the court proved to be difference in the second half, as the Vikings were outscored 36- 27.
Nate Goins provided the continuous spark for Niles and finished with a game-high 28 points to go along with nine rebounds. three assists, a steal and a block.
Kendall Chrismon also had an outstanding game for the Vikings. He contributed 12 points, five rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block.
“Both of Nate and Kendal are very talented, and I don’t think they have even began to scratch the surface and we are going to continue to work on them,” Dendy said. “Kendall has been thrusted into a leadership role rather quickly this year and has done an excellent job. And Nate is a great addition to us, I think he has a bright future ahead.”
Niles will face Mattawan on Monday
“Our effort and energy was the best it has been all year,” Dendy said. “Although we lost the game, I am so proud of our guys for their hustle, grit and toughness.”