Girls basketball: Top seeds Putnam County, Newark survive upset bids

Members of the Newark basketball team cheer after their team scores a basket against St. Bede during the Class 1A Regional game on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023 at Putnam County High School.

GRANVILLE – The top two seeds were pushed but survived Monday in the Class 1A Putnam County Girls Basketball Regional semifinals.

No. 2-seeded Putnam County edged No. 9 Midland 27-22 before No. 3 Newark pulled out a 64-55 victory over No. 6 St. Bede.

The Panthers (22-9) and Norsemen (23-7) will meet in the title game at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Putnam County 27, Midland 22

The Panthers played Midland three times in the regular season and each time was able to pull away in the second half, but couldn’t Monday in a narrow victory.

The Panthers trailed 5-2 after one quarter, led 14-13 at halftime and never led by more than seven points.

“I told the girls I’ve never felt worse in 14 years after a win,” Putnam County coach Jared Sale said. “I thought we played scared to lose. This time of year, you can’t do that.

“To beat somebody four times is always tough. We had to knock down some free throws with under a minute left and were able to survive and advance, so it is what it is.”

Sophie Milloy drained a 3-pointer to give Midland a 16-15 lead with 5:33 left in the third, but the Panthers responded with a three-point play by Maggie Richetta, one of her three on the night, to take the lead for good.

“I’m glad I finished at the rim and was able to make my free throws,” Richetta said. “It’s something I usually struggle with is free throws. They were better tonight.

“[The three-point plays] were big to bring us ahead because it was pretty close the whole time.”

PC did not score a field goal in the fourth but made four free throws to hold off the Timberwolves, who pulled as close as 25-22 with 2:13 left.

Ava Hatton led PC with 11 points, while Richetta had nine.

Newark 64, St. Bede 55

With St. Bede handling their pressure and scoring on the back end in the first half, the Norsemen fell behind by as many as nine points.

But Newark, which took its press off at times, closed the gap to two by the half, eventually wore down the Bruins with the pressure, made a run at the end of the third quarter and knocked down free throws in the fourth to win.

“We were expecting a really tough game, and then we started off a little rough, so I was a little nervous,” Newark junior Brooklyn Hatteberg said. “But then we started switching things up, and I think that really helped. We got in the groove on defense, and that helped because we usually rely on our defense, and that helps with our offense.”

The Bruins came out strong against the press, going on runs of 7-0 and 5-0 in the first quarter to take a 19-14 lead.

St. Bede led by as many as nine at 24-15 with 4:59 left in the half.

“We practiced a lot against ball pressure,” St. Bede coach Stephanie Mickley said. “We scouted them well. We knew what we were in for. We’ve been pressed a lot, so that helps.”

Newark closed within 32-30 at halftime and midway through the third, the Norsemen went on a 10-0 run – with six points coming from Hatteberg – to go into the fourth leading 45-41.

“Our defense gave us momentum, and that was really helping,” Hatteberg said. “The game kind of sped up, so it was a lot faster pace than the first half. Our offense, we were starting to make our shots down low.”

The Norsemen led throughout the fourth quarter and put it away by hitting 8 of 10 free throws in the final 2:33.

“We struggled with their size and their toughness,” Newark coach Glenn Clausel said. “They were being pretty physical with us. Our girls had to wear into that and see how the game was going to go. We kind of settled down and got things going. I was pleased with our effort. I thought we stuck our nose there, hung in there and did a great job holding our ground.”

Tess Carlson led Newark with 19 points, including 7 of 8 free throws in the final 43.5 seconds, while Hatteberg had 14 points.

Ali Bosnich scored 18 for St. Bede (9-21), while Ella Hermes finished with 14.

“I thought we came out attacking,” Mickley said. “We were as prepared as we could be. We played four quarters of hard basketball. We had a couple of glitches where we turned the ball over or couldn’t score, and that was really the game. We played the best game we’ve played all year.”

Newark beat Putnam County 32-19 in the regular season finale Wednesday.

“Putnam County is a good team,” Clausel said. “They’re very deliberate. They take their time. They get good shots. They’ll be prepared. It won’t be in the 50s and 60s. Last time we played them it was low scoring, and we expect that again. We’re expecting them to shoot better. They didn’t shoot well the first time. We’ll be ready.”

Sale said PC needs to make improvements.

“We have to shoot the ball better,” Sale said. “I think we were 0 of 15 from 3, so it starts there. We have to handle the pressure a little better. We’ve spent a little bit of time on it trying to plan ahead just enough. We’re going to set up a little bit differently in our press break and offensively give them a different look and see what happens.”