BABBITT- After Northeast Range guard Morgan Bush nailed an electrifying three-point buzzer beater going into halftime of a home rematch against North Woods on Tuesday, the Nighthawks were flying …
BABBITT- After Northeast Range guard Morgan Bush nailed an electrifying three-point buzzer beater going into halftime of a home rematch against North Woods on Tuesday, the Nighthawks were flying high. Down by 28 after the first stanza in their Feb. 9 matchup with Grizzlies, NER was in the thick of this battle, trailing by only five, 37-32, as they carried momentum into the locker room.
But Old Mo didn’t make it back on the court with the ‘Hawks, as the Grizzlies unleashed a ferocious defense that fueled a 17-4 blitz in the first eight minutes of the second half. The North Woods girls coasted from there to a 77-52 win.
An opening trey by the Grizzlies’ Kiana LaRoque was immediately answered by NER’s Aili Bee, and the first-half slugfest was on. Maizy Sundblad and Willa Koivisto also connected from three-point land to give the Nighthawks a 9-8 lead.
Normally a presence under the bucket, Hannah Kinsey slipped out beyond the arc and drained a three for North Woods, the start of an 11-0 run that put the Grizzlies ahead 26-16. But unlike the first game, the Nighthawks wouldn’t let the Grizzlies run away.
A trey by Jenna Smith trimmed the North Woods lead to five, and when the Grizzlies stretched the advantage to ten once more, the Nighthawks answered, most notably with Bush’s buzzer-beater.
For Grizzlies Head Coach Liz Cheney, some halftime adjustments were in order.
“I said, ‘The door with the word hope on it has opened for Northeast Range,’” Cheney said. “Morgan Bush’s three-point shot at the end, that’s going to pump anyone up. So we had to close that door. We readjusted our goals and talked about how in the second half we were going to take ownership of the game. And that’s exactly what they did.”
Madi Dantes set the tone for the Grizzlies with two steals in the Nighthawks’ first three possession of the half. When they weren’t getting steals, the Grizzlies’ press forced NER to make bad passes and turnovers. Madison Spears picked up the scoring pace down low for North Woods, and five players scored during the eight-minute blitz, including triples from Dantes and Kinsey.
The game flow was more balanced the rest of the way, albeit with the Grizzlies firmly in control and NER never mounting even a minor threat. North Woods was up by 24 with seven minutes remaining and won by 25, 77-52.
Spears and Kinsey were the main scoring punch for North Woods, hitting 21 and 20 points respectively. Hannah Cheney also reached double-digits with 10 points. That was largely by design, Coach Cheney said, as their focus coming into the game was to have their guards feeding the ball down into the post to capitalize on the Grizzlies’ height advantage.
For the Nighthawks, Thia Lossing led the team with 12 points, and Jenna Smith and Maizy Sundblad scored nine each.
The win was a good rebound for the Grizzlies after a 49-41 road loss to Bigfork last Thursday. Spears carried the scoring load for North Woods in that contest, dropping in 15, and Dantes had 10.
The 5-5 Grizzlies will face their sternest test of the season this Saturday when they face off on the road against perennial powerhouse Mt. Iron-Buhl. MIB is the top-scoring team in Section 7A and second highest in all of Class A, averaging 74.5 points per game, and in 10 games has compiled an average winning margin of 32 points. North Woods will be on the road again on Monday, March 1 at Floodwood.