Weller’s 28 points leads Dowagiac past Niles 50-40

Published 10:03 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — The Dowagiac girls basketball team wrapped up the regular-season home portion of its schedule against Niles on Senior Night.

Senior Maggie Weller, who is committed to play next season at Southwestern Michigan College, celebrated with a game-high 28 points to lead the Chieftains past the Vikings 50-40.

In what was a physical contest throughout, Niles (2-18) gave Dowagiac everything it wanted before coming up sport in the fourth quarter.

“Tonight, was a physical and aggressive game,” said Dowagiac Coach Jason Turner. “Niles plays really hard and have been in a lot of games because of that. They knocked down some shots tonight, but we kept working and picked it up defensively in the fourth.”

The Chieftains (13-7) grabbed the early 14-5 lead, but were unable to build on it as Niles chipped away at their advantage over the next three quarters.

Dowagiac led 25-22 at the intermission, and by a single digit (37-36) heading into the final eight minutes of play.

The Vikings had several opportunities to take the lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but were unable to convert.

Weller hit a mid-range jumper with 6:50 to go to extend Dowagiac’s lead to 39-36. Her driving layup 40 seconds later gave the Chieftains a five-point advantage.

Niles was never able to get closer than three points the remaining of the quarter.

Weller would finish with 12 of her 28 points in the period.

Dowagiac hit 5-of-10 free throws down the stretch to maintain its advantage.

Besides Weller, Dowagiac got 13 points from Marlie Carpenter and four points from senior Audrey Johnson.

The Vikings were led by Jessica Thornton’s 13 points. She was the only Niles player to reach double figures. Tanaya Brown and Liz VanDePutte both finished with nine points, while Elly Matlock had seven.

Dowagiac’s senior class has helped turn around the fortunes of the program, made it a more consistent winner and delivered the school’s first district championship in 2022, which snapped a 14-year drought.

“It was really nice to get the win on senior night for our four seniors,” Turner said. “I am so proud of them and everything they have accomplished in their four years, but we still have unfinished business this year.”

Dowagiac will wrap up the regular season Thursday at Lawton. Niles will host Three Rivers a Wolverine Conference contest.