BY GREG FLINT
SHARPSVILLE, Ind. —
The North Vermillion girls’ basketball team defeated Southern Wells in their 1A regional opener, but fell in the title game to Lafayette Central Catholic.
In the opening game, the Falcons scored first but quickly fell behind by almost double digits.
“We missed some easy baskets and made some poor decisions in that first half,” said Terry Naylor, head coach for the team. “I wasn’t worried because that isn’t us and we settled down in the second half.”
Trailing 21-18 at the half, the Falcons tried to close the gap but struggled early in the third quarter, as their shots would not fall.
Finally, with 4:18 to go in the period, Kylee Karr went the length of the court for a lay-up then Mikayla Kinneer made a putback to tie the game. She would score another to make score 24-22 after three quarter.
The lone point by Southern Wells came on a free throw at the 6:17 mark and they did not score a basket until hitting a trey with 45 seconds left in the game — a dry spell from the field of over 15 minutes.
North Vermillion upped their lead in the fourth quarter to six points, but their opponent would not defend aggressively, so Naylor put his team into their delay game.
“I really don’t want to do that – make a team not shoot – but they wouldn’t defend us, so I figured ‘Why not?’ and stayed in the delay the rest of the way.”
The Falcons ended up winning the game from the free throw line where they were 11 of 18 against only one of five by Southern Wells.
That may be because North Vermillion attacked the basket more than did their opponent.
“They were taller, but we were quicker so we kept the pressure on them,” said Naylor.
The nightcap started well enough for North Vermillion as the got both their inside and outside game going.
Martin scored a lay-up and Kinneer added a trey. Karr hit a free throw and Turchi put in a lay-up to give the Falcons an 8-1 lead just past the midway point of the first quarter.
They continued to lead as the period ended, 11-7, but Martin picked up her second foul with 42 seconds left and went to the bench for the remainder of the half.
With Martin out, the rebounding edge switched to the Knights. The Falcons continued to attack inside, but most misses at either end of the floor ended in Central Catholic hands.
Despite this, the North Vermillion defense was sound and they kept the lead, 17-16, going into intermission.
The Knights got their first lead of the game at 20-19 with two minutes gone in the third quarter, but the Falcons came right back with a short jumper by Martin and a three from Turchi to lead 24-20.
At that point, two things went wrong for North Vermillion. Martin picked up her fourth foul and returned to the bench and the Falcons went cold – not a little cold, but absolutely frigid.
Central Catholic went on a 14-0 run with North Vermillion not scoring for over eight minutes stretching into the fourth quarter.
When Turchi snapped the dry spell with a trey, the scoreboard read 38-31 in favor of the Knights.
The final three minutes of the game consisted of North Vermillion shooting three-pointers and Central Catholic shooting free throws – which resulted in another 8-1 run to close out the game at 46-34.
The Knights won the game at the line as they made 18 of 28 free throws while the Falcons were only two for nine.
Naylor said the foul trouble that put Martin on the bench hurt his team, but such things were just part of the game.
He said the factor that determined the outcome was cold shooting by his team.
“If we’d made some of the easy shots we’d missed in the first half, the third quarter wouldn’t have mattered as much,” he explained.
He continued, “They are more athletic than we are and have a deeper bench, so maybe we tired some, but we got the game played at the tempo we wanted. We also handled their press well, so I’m proud of these girls.”
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org