STERLING – Despite a large margin of victory in their first game this season, Bureau Valley knew Newman wasn’t going to be a pushover on its home court in their Three Rivers East rematch Monday night.
The Comets gave BV all it could handle, leading much of the game, but the Storm found a way to pull out a 43-41 victory in Sterling.
[ Photos from Newman vs. Bureau Valley girls basketball ]
Bureau Valley (10-14, 6-2 TRAC East) had a few players step up and make plays in key situations, as Lynzie Cady, Taylor Neuhalfen, Kate Salisbury and Kate Stoller all scored in the fourth quarter to keep the game close until the end.
“Before the game, we talked about how they’ve improved a lot since the last time we played them, and we just couldn’t go in thinking we had the game won already,” Salisbury said. “At the end of the game, we told each other to stay calm and collected, and just play smart, and it’s nice to know that someone can just step in and help us make plays.”
Cady’s basket off a Neuhalfen assist tied the score with 5:36 to go, then Neuhalfen scored 27 seconds later to give the Storm a 37-36 lead.
Salisbury then scored off a Cady assist for a 39-37 lead with 4:41 to go, before Newman’s Helen Papoccia hit two free throws to tie the game a minute later. Salisbury’s free throw with 2:36 left made it 40-39 BV, but Madison Duhon hit two free throws with 1:44 remaining for a 41-40 Newman lead.
The Comets (6-18, 3-5) scored only one basket in the fourth quarter – a 3-pointer by Lucy Oetting less than two minutes in for a 35-33 lead. Everything else came at the free-throw line.
“I think our effort was there, but I think we didn’t execute our plays very well; it was a lot of just kind of running around and trying to find the open person – which sometimes that works, but not tonight,” Newman’s Jess Johns said.
The thing that was working for Newman was its defense and rebounding. The Comets played a 2-3 zone for much of the night, and it affected BV’s rhythm on offense. Newman also grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and snagged 23 defensive boards, and got eight second-chance points to BV’s 1.
“We are scrappy, and we like to dive for everything when it’s on the ground. We go hard at every ball, try to make those hustle plays,” Lucy Oetting said. “Our defense was really good, and we got a lot of steals. And our post player, Jess Johns, did a really good job on their big girl.”
But in the end, it was the Storm defense coming up big. A steal by Cady with about a minute to go gave Bureau Valley a chance to take the lead, and Stoller hit a pair of free throws with 50.4 seconds left to do just that.
Then the Storm held Newman to another empty possession, and Salisbury hit the front end of a 1-and-1 for a two-point lead with 9.4 seconds remaining. The Comets didn’t get a good look in their final trip down the court.
“One of our best things is our token defense, and we practice it all the time. At the end of games, we can put that token defense on and make them make mistakes, get some steals for us and score some key points,” Stoller said.
Salisbury and Stoller both finished with 12 points and five rebounds for the Storm; Stoller nabbed four steals, and Salisbury dished two assists. Neuhalfen added nine points and three rebounds, Wasilewski had five points and three rebounds, and Cady chipped in two points, eight rebounds and four steals. Lesleigh Maynard added two points and two assists for BV.
Johns led all players with 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Papoccia, Oetting and Duhon scored six points each for Newman. Duhon added five rebounds and five assists, Oetting nabbed six steals, and Papoccia pulled down three rebounds and dished a pair of assists. Lauryn Francque chipped in five points and five rebounds for the Comets.