Workman’s Niles coaching debut spoiled with 54-51 loss to Berrien Springs

Published 1:47 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2023

NILES — The Niles girls basketball team’s first game of the Sarah Workman era went down to the wire Tuesday night.

The Vikings lost a hard-fought game to visiting Berrien Springs 54-51 at Niles High School.

Jessica Thorton and Tannaya Brown scored 15 and 14 points to lead Niles and Elly Matlock had nine points while Ali Cerrits added four. Laura Font, Kenzie Lakes and Maddie Zache scored three points respectively.

“They worked hard,” Workman said. “We’re getting better every single day. It’s a process and it’s gonna continue to be a process. So we’re learning and getting better every single day.”

Berrien Springs’ Zion Ellis led all scorers with 20 points – including 10 in the third quarter – and Aubreona Smith had 14 points and Lillian Wiegand added 10. Jasyl Withers scored five points and Addison Frakes and Suzy Markle had two points apiece while Maria Anderson tallied one.

Niles jumped out to a 20-9 lead in the second quarter before Berrien Springs closed the half on a 14-3 run to tie the game 23-23 at halftime. The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Shamrocks take a 42-39 lead into the final stanza.

In the fourth quarter, the Vikings trailed by as many as eight points after an Ellis fast break layup put the Shamrocks on top 54-46. Trailing 54-48 with less than 30 seconds remaining, Thorton was fouled while attempting a 3-point shot and went to the line for three free throws. She made all three to trim the deficit to 54-51. After forcing a Berrien Springs turnover in the closing seconds, the Vikings were unable to force overtime.

“We were executing better in the first half,” Workman said. “We were transitioning well, we definitely hit the boards better. We’re gonna keep working hard.”

The Vikings will aim for their first win at 7:15 p.m. Friday against Otsego. While Tuesday’s loss was not the desired outcome, Workman enjoyed her first game strolling the sidelines.

“I love these girls,” she said. “They’ve really bought in and work hard. We’re getting better.”