Lady Cougars hovering around .500
Four days after downing Sunflower League foe Shawnee Mission East, 35-30, the SM Northwest girls basketball team threw a major scare into the league's top-ranked team, the Olathe South Falcons, before eventually falling, 56-47, on Monday
"I think from where we are and from where they (Olathe South) are I'm not disappointed," said Northwest coach John Reiff. "Now we've got take that effort into Wednesday (against Shawnee Mission South)."
Initially, it looked like no amount of Cougar effort was going to be good enough against the juggernaut Falcons. South nailed its first six three-pointers on the way to a whopping 28-10 lead in the first quarter. The only bright spot in the quarter for the Cougars was the play of junior Becca Roberts, who, with the help of three first-quarter assists from Amelia Jones, scored the Cougars' first 12 points -- all of the squad's first period tallies.
The Cougars edged their way back into the game in the second quarter when they ended the first half on a 7-3 run. Junior guard Jessie Bocquin keyed the spurt with five points including a trey from the left corner off a Shaina Hunt assist.
After going into halftime down 35-23, the Cougars struck early in the second half when Bocquin nailed a three from a Leslie White feed to cut the Olathe South lead to single digits, 35-26. Twice in the next few minutes, Bocquin trimmed the lead to seven, first on a three from the right side off a Hunt dish and then later on a give-and-go play -- with the assist going to Roberts. However, a driving one-handed basket by South's Ashley Patton gave the Falcons a 10-point lead, 44-34, going into the final quarter.
Hunt began the final charge for the Cougars with a three in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Moments later, Bocquin sank three straight free throws after she was fouled on a trey attempt, making the score 48-40. A few minutes later, Jones also brought the deficit down to eight when she blocked a shot and took the ball the length of the floor for a layup. Soon after that, Bocquin stole the ball at halfcourt off an inbounds play and took it downcourt for another lay-in, cutting the lead to 52-46.
However, the South defense tightened down the stretch and the Falcons were a perfect four-for-four from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the win.
After the game, Reiff reflected about "the one that might have been".
"They came out on fire and then they kind of let up a bit," Reiff said. "Sometimes when you do that and the other team makes a charge, it's hard to get back into the game. They kind of went to a zone to combat Becca and we hit some shots out of that zone. That's what you've got to do. You've got to be able to take some shots from the outside."
Bocquin led all Cougars in the game with 19 points. Bocquin also finished the game with 4 steals and 2 rebounds. Roberts had 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocked shots while Jones finished with 5 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Earlier in the week, the Cougars traveled to SM East to take on the Lancers. Powered by Roberts' 11 points and 10 points from Shaina Hunt, the Cougars claimed a 35-30 victory.
"It was kind of an ugly game," Reiff said. "We actually played well up until the last two minutes of the first half. We handled the press well early on and, even with that last couple of minutes, we were still up by eight at halftime."
Reiff was most impressed with his squad's defense, which held East to a measly 3-for-27 from beyond the three-point line.
"Our defense did a much better job of shutting down the inside," Reiff said. "They had to rely on their outside shooting and it just wasn't falling for them. We did a pretty good job of giving them only one shot."
The Cougars now turn their attention to SM South. Northwest squares off against the Lady Raiders this Wednesday at 7 p.m. in South's gym.
"With the two Souths it's an interesting week," said Reiff. "It'll be a game where we have to reduce our turnovers."