Shawnee Dispatch

SMNW girls hoops holds off Mill Valley, 36-31

Shawnee Mission Northwest's Sarah Petersen, right, and Emmalee Rose, middle, high-five teammate Haley Nunnink, left, after the Cougars' 36-31 win Tuesday over Mill Valley. Enlarge photo

December 7, 2016

With only making three field goals in the second half, Shawnee Mission Northwest's girls basketball team relied on its stifling defense and getting to the free-throw line to hold off Mill Valley for a 36-31 victory on Tuesday in its home opener.

Northwest's 1-3-1 zone defense helped the Cougars' hold Mill Valley to 21.9 percent shooting. Although the Cougars also went cold from the field in the second half, they were a perfect 13 of 13 from the free-throw line.

"It's the easiest shot you get in the game," senior Emmalee Rose said. "You have to make those. There is no exception. You've got to knock those down, and today we did just that. We had no problem knocking them down."

Rose scored a game-high 13 points, and went eight for eight from the charity stripe. The SM Northwest point guard had the Cougars' offense clicking early, as she scored five points and added an assist on a Hannah Black bucket in the first quarter.

Black finished the contest with six points and eight rebounds. The Cougars' front court rotation of Black, Jordann Nachbar, Haley Nunnink and Sarah Petersen helped Northwest win the battle on the boards.

"I think it's one of our strongest things, and it's something that we've really focused on," Petersen said. "With how our offense ran and how our defense ran, I think boxing out was one of the biggest keys it took to win this game."

The Cougars built a 17-5 lead with just under a minute remaining in the first half, but Mill Valley cut it to two after going on a 10-0 run that spanned five-plus minutes between the second and third quarters. The Jaguars closed the first half with a three-pointer from Presley Barton and a bucket from Trinity Knapp to seize some of the momentum going into the break despite trailing, 17-10. Mill Valley came out firing in the third as well, as Claire Kaifes knocked down one of her two three-pointers. Knapp followed with another basket two pull Mill Valley within two.

Petersen ended the long draught for the Cougars at the 4:30 mark with a traditional three-point play. Petersen only had five points, but she pulled down key rebounds down the stretch, and also forced a jump ball with 15.1 seconds remaining with the Cougars clinging to a 34-31 lead. The possession arrow went the way of the Cougars, and Nachbar iced the game with two free throws with 13.5 seconds to play.

Petersen had some added motivation to make big plays down the stretch, too.

"I really didn't want to lose on my birthday," Petersen said. "I really didn't."

The Jaguars cut the Cougars' lead to one on three different occasions in the second half, but never could get over the hump. Junior Evan Zars helped the Jaguars keep pace with the Cougars at the charity stripe by knocking down six free throws in the final three and a half minutes. Zars matched Rose by going eight for eight at the line, but Mill Valley coach Drew Walters was disappointed that she didn't get more touches in the paint.

"We didn't find her down that. That's something that we're going to have to do if we want to be successful because she's very effective," Walters said. "We've just got to do a better job of scheming and finding a way to get her the ball and get touches early. When she got 'em, she made plays."

Zars finished with 10 points to lead the Jaguars. Walters is hoping that Zars will have some help in the post soon with the return of Ashlyn Hendrix, but he is unsure of when that will be. Hendrix sustained a concussion in the third quarter of Mill Valley's season-opening overtime win over Blue Valley Northwest on Thursday, and is still in concussion protocol.

While Walters was disappointed in his team's slow start, he was pleased with how they battled back to make a game of it against the Cougars. The Jaguars will play their home opener Friday against Free State.

"They're a really good team," Walters said of SM Northwest. "I'm proud of how we fought and got grit and had a little toughness in coming back because we kind of sunk our heads and weren't quite sure and then we pulled together. It was nice to see us do that and make it close, and do some things in the second half to make it a good ball game."

With the win over Mill Valley, the Cougars remained perfect at 3-0 entering Friday's road tilt with Washburn Rural.

"We looked at our first schedule here and we saw Mill Valley, Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission West, and we're like, 'Jiminy Christmas, we've kind of got some teams that can play.'" Northwest coach Tyler Stewart said. "We're happy. Our expectation was to go 3-0, but we knew we were going to have to play a certain way to be able to achieve that and so far they have."

SMNW (36)

Abby Winter 0-0 0-0 0, Rachel Seibold 0-0 0-0 0, Haley Nunnink 0-2 2-2 2, Megan Nugent 0-1 0-0 0, Emmalee Rose 2-7 8-8 13, Hannah Black 3-6 0-0 6, Jordann Nachbar 4-10 2-2 10, Sarah Peterson 2-5 1-1 5. Totals 11-31 13-13 36.

MV (31)

Presley Barton 2-10 0-0 6, Trinity Knapp 2-6 0-0 4, Claire Kaifes 2-7 0-2 6, Evan Zars 1-5 8-8 10, Elena Artis 1-8 0-0 2, Courtney Carlson 1-3 0-0 3, Adde Hinkle 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 9-41 8-10 31.

Three-point goals: MV 5-24 (Kaifes 2, Barton 2, Carlson); SMNW 1-7 (Rose). Fouled out: . Turnovers: MV 10, SMNW 16.

Originally published at: http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2016/dec/07/smnw-girls-hoops-holds-mill-valley-36-31/