Missed free throws the difference in SMNW girls loss
The charity stripe was not in a giving mood for the Shawnee Mission Northwest girls basketball team Friday.
The Northwest girls missed on six free throws in the fourth quarter — going a total of 4-for-10 in the period — as the Cougars (7-2) lost a hard-fought battle to Shawnee Mission South, 58-53, Friday at Cougar Gymnasium.
“In the fourth quarter we got an opportunity to shoot free throws,” Northwest head coach Jeff Dickson said after the game, “and we’ve got to knock them down. We knocked a few down but we didn’t knock enough down, and then we couldn’t get the stops at the other end that we needed to without fouling. And that made the difference in the game.”
Just as in two teams’ previous meeting in December, the game was a nip-and-tuck affair, with South holding the lead most of the game but never being able to shake a tenacious Northwest squad.
South jumped out to an early 5-0 lead two minutes into the quarter before Dickson called a timeout to settle his athletes. The timeout strategy worked, as the Cougars responded with five quick points off a three from senior guard Katie Biggers and a baseline jumper from fellow senior guard Sarah Schmidt.
A three from South sophomore forward Allison Hines put the Raiders back up, but Hines was quickly equaled by Northwest senior guard Jessica Johnson, whose three from the left corner off a Biggers’ feed tied the game at 8-8.
Johnson then put the Cougars ahead for the first time when her putback off an offensive rebound made it 10-8 with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. However, a left corner three from South senior guard Taylor McDowell off a dish from junior guard Amanda Schwabauer gave South an 11-10 edge at the end of the quarter.
South moved its advantage to four early in the second period before Northwest went on a 7-0 run. First, Schmidt drained a trey from the right side off an assist from junior guard Kristina Purinton. She was followed by sophomore forward McKayla Ross, who hit a layup off an inbounds assist from Biggers. Then freshman post Tracy Monahan got in the act with a layup of her own off another Biggers’ feed.
However, South sophomore guard Sierra Roberts went on her own 7-0 run, including a four-point play to put the Raiders up 25-21. A Ross steal and full court layup cut the lead to 25-23 just before intermission.
The Lady Raiders opened the third quarter on an 8-1 run and took a nine-point, 33-24, lead when junior forward Hayden Roberts hit a post bucket off an assist from senior post Emmy Allen. A Purinton three from sophomore guard Meghan McCluskey pulled Northwest back to within four at 33-29. Three Allen free throws once again pushed the Raider advantage back to nine.
But the Cougars were far from getting dismissed. Northwest ended the period on an 8-0 run. Schmidt began the surge when she popped a top-of-the key three off another Biggers’ assist.
A strong take to the lane by Ross cut the lead to four and then Johnson nailed a right corner three at the buzzer off yet another Biggers’ dish, making the score 38-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
Free throws proved to be the difference in the final period as the Lady Raiders started the quarter by hitting six out of eight charity opportunities in the first two minutes. South again pushed their lead up to eight when sophomore forward Amanda Hoelting completed a traditional three-point play with 2:09 left.
Still, the Cougars had one last burst left. A Purinton three from the right corner from a Biggers’ feed made the score 53-49 with 58.5 seconds remaining.
Purinton and Biggers repeated the act with 25.1 seconds left to bring the game to 54-53. However, the Raiders went four-for-four from the free throw line in the game’s final 20 seconds and the Cougars had no answers on offense as South sealed the 58-53 win.
“We were able to scrap and battle and fight our way back,” Dickson said, “and we finished the game with, I think, five or six more field goals than they did, but we just couldn’t complete the deal on the free throw line to get over the hump.”
Schmidt led the Cougars in scoring with 10 points to go with her team-high seven rebounds, and two steals.
Both Purinton and Ross added nine points with Ross adding two boards and two assists. Johnson finished the game with eight points, two rebounds, and two steals while Biggers contributed seven points, a team-high eight assists, and four boards. Monahan added another seven points for Northwest.