North Finishes 12-8 Regular Season
J. C. Tilton
The Tri County North Lady Panthers finished the regular season with a pair of wins. Neither game went quite as expected but North was happy with the results. The team had 10 wins and was hungry for the 11th win that would guarantee a winning regular season. Despite school being closed for the weather North would travel to Carlisle for their next to the last game of the season.
The team has a habit of not playing well when they are out of their routine. Saturday games have been a problem and although it was a Monday game, it was a snow day, and the girls didn't seem focused. Carlisle has had a losing season, but seemed to be up for the game. North seemed out of rhythm - lethargic. By the end of the game they would accumulate 19 turnovers. Neither team was shooting well, but Carlisle hit enough to have a 9-1 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 13-9 lead at halftime. On paper this should have been a lopsided game in North's favor, but they were struggling against the defiant Indians.
Brittany Mullins and Rachel Heindl made a difference in the third quarter as North came back. North was hit with a technical foul late in the quarter, but they still managed to outscore the Indians and had a 25-17 lead. Carlisle rallied, but North held on and eeked out a 30-25 victory.
North's coach Freisthler was asked for post game comments, “We didn't take care of the ball the way that we should have. We had too many turnovers, too many for a team like Carlisle. We didn't finish many of our shots, but a win is a win. It has been at least since 1984 that North has had a winning season. They have done really well as a team, they pick it up when they need to. Sometimes they until the last minute to pick it up. They do seem to have a problem when they are out of their daily routine, like at West Carrollton.
“It's amazing”, responded senior guard Tiffany Daughtery when asked about win number 11. “I didn't really think about winning when I was a freshman or sophomore. But last year I could see things coming together at the end of the season.”
“It feels really good to have our first winning season in like twenty years”, replied Rachel Heindl, “It's awesome to be part of it.” Then the sophomore was asked about the future for the North program, “I think we'll do really good. We have some good freshman coming up. We have a lot of people that have varsity experience coming back.” Lastly Rachel was asked what advice she would give to younger players, “Practice, practice, practice. I am usually the first one to practice and the last to leave - hard work.”
North had one last hill to climb in the regular season. They had to play third place Arcanum at Arcanum on their senior night. The Trojans have been successful this season - division 1 college basketball recruit senior Ashley Falknor has had a lot to do with that. The North team had a chip on their shoulder, they didn't just want a winning record, they wanted another win that would place them firmly at the top of the league.
The Panthers exchanged baskets with Arcanum and then gradually built a lead. The gym had a decent sized crowd for a Thursday night. Arcanum changed up their half court defenses and even pressed briefly to throw North off balance. Nothing seemed to help, and by halftime the Panthers had a comfortable 15 point lead. Offensively and defensively the Panthers were ‘on'.
Arcanum closed the gap some in the third quarter, but were still down by 10. Now with their backs against the wall in the fourth quarter they pressed hard and closed the deficit. They drew within a point in the final minutes. At this critical time, senior Tiffany Daughter calmly sunk a trey to re-extend the Panther lead. The senior made it her night - leading all scorers with 21 points. North settled for a 55-48 upset win and a share of 4th place in the conference - tying Franklyn Monroe. Arcanum remained firmly in third place.
The North coach commented on the teams 12th win, “I was impressed, they deserved a big upset. They have worked and gotten a lot of wins compared to the past. They came ready to play. They came up here really excited and really into it. In the locker room you could feel the excitement. They really wanted to come out and win - it was Arcanum's senior night they thought Arcanum scheduled us because they figured that it was an easy win.”
The team had a tough draw in the state tournament. Versailles is 8th ranked in the state according to one poll. Another local coach ranked their team first and TCN last in the district and when the points were totaled, North lost going to a better bracket by just 4 points. Still the team battled the Tigers as best they could. But when the game was over the Tigers won decisively 63-26. Megan Thompson lead scoring for North with 13 points, Heindl 4, Daughtery 5, Mullins 2, and Tilton 2.
Coach: “Megan came ready to play tonight. She wasn't afraid and wasn't intimidated by them. We knew coming in that this was going to be a tough game. They are a good team. The girls didn't give up though. The first half was a little scary - we only shot 8 shots. So in the second half we shot a lot more and scored. This game is not a good reflection of our season. They have surprised a lot of people. They did a lot of things that people did not expect TriCounty North to do. So they have nothing to hang their heads about. They are still relatively young, so next season we should be able to build on that.”
Lastly she lamented that the JV girls did not get much playing time the last half of the season, “It was too bad because they work just as much as everyone else. And they need the game experience to get better for next year. But there are rumors that more girls are wanting to come out and most of the 8th grade class is going to stick with it next year.” Comments: email: Chris Tilton