FIELD TWP- By the time the North Woods girls adapted to the Cherry Tigers’ ferocious attack in last week’s home sectional playoff game, they found themselves too far behind to recover and …
FIELD TWP- By the time the North Woods girls adapted to the Cherry Tigers’ ferocious attack in last week’s home sectional playoff game, they found themselves too far behind to recover and bowed out of the postseason with a 66-46 loss.
After a thrilling overtime win against the Tigers earlier this season, the Grizzlies expected a tough battle on March 1, but the relentless nature of Cherry’s full court press rattled North Woods right from the start. Three turnovers led to three Cherry scores as the visitors broke on top 6-0, and North Woods went scoreless for the first three-and-a-half minutes until Hannah Kinsey canned a follow shot to make it 8-2.
The Grizzlies kept pace the rest of the half, but Cherry stubbornly clung to its early lead, holding a 27-19 lead at the break.
Talise Goodsky trimmed the deficit in half by hitting the Grizzlies’ first two buckets of the second half, but the excitement was short-lived as Cherry responded with three scores to go up 33-23. North Woods mounted a serious run with 11:30 left to play on a trey by Brynn Chosa, a pair of Kinsey buckets, and two triples by Helen Koch, and the Grizzlies pulled to within 43-41 on a Koch free throw with 8:05 remaining.
But that was as close as the Grizzlies would come to taking the lead. Cherry hit a basket and a trey to go up by seven and led 53-44 with 2:54 left. Forced to foul, the Grizzlies watched the Tigers connect on a dozen charities down the stretch as their own offense sputtered. River Cheney scored the only Grizzlies’ hoop of the final three minutes with 12 seconds remaining as the Tigers pulled the minor upset 64-44.
“I don’t think we were intimidated by Cherry, but they came out with a fire and a desire to win that clearly outmatched ours, unfortunately,” Grizzlies Head Coach Liz Cheney said. “Cherry’s determination when they stole the ball from us one, two, three and went up 6-0 within 30 seconds just caught us off guard and they capitalized on that the rest of the game.”
“We just struggled,” Cheney continued. “On a different night the game could’ve taken our turn. It’s not the way we wanted to end the season.”
Koch was the only North Woods player to crack double-digits with 20, as the Tigers did a good job of neutralizing the Grizzlies’ inside game and took away fast break scoring opportunities with solid ball control on offense.
North Woods finished the season at 14-13, the best mark for a Grizzlies squad in nearly a decade. While the Grizzlies say goodbye to seniors Kinsey and Kiana LaRoque, everyone else will be back next season, a scenario Cheney is looking forward to.
“I’ve got players ready to step in,” she said. “I’m definitely looking forward to the off-season and then next season. No one can count us out, that’s for sure.”