Northwestern Press

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Northwestern's Kylee Bennett drives to the basket during a recent game. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern's Kylee Bennett drives to the basket during a recent game. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ

Girls hoops takes first loss

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by TYLER TRUMBAUER Special to The Press in HS Sports

Coming off their close triumph over Southern Lehigh two days before, the Lady Tigers were returning home and looking to be the first team this season to clinch a district playoff berth.

Instead of celebrating after last Thursday night's game, Northwestern (6-1 in Colonial League, 10-1 overall) stewed about its first loss of the 2013-14 campaign as Salisbury (5-3, 8-5) pulled off the upset, 42-41.

"To be honest with you, I don't think we deserved to win," said head coach Chris Deutsch. "We were fortunate to be in the game, but I don't think we played very well tonight. I think we didn't shoot the ball very well. I thought we didn't come out [in the first half] like we normally come out."

The Lady Tigers early struggles were mostly offensive. The team shot 4-for-28 from the field and didn't attempt a foul shot in the entire first half.

Northwestern as it only scored two points in the second quarter. They came from senior Trista Cunningham, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Salisbury took a 22-10 lead into halftime.

"We couldn't buy a shot," Deutsch said.

The teams reversed roled to start the second half. The Lady Falcons opened up with five straight turnovers and didn't register a point until the 4:15 mark of the third quarter.

The Lady Tigers finished the third period on a 6-1 run that ended with junior Sabrina Mertz (14 points) converting two foul shots to cut the deficit to 30-26 heading into the fourth.

Led by junior Sarah Segan's seven fourth-quarter points, the Lady Tigers fought back and knotted the game at 37-37 with two minutes remaining. They took the lead, 40-39 with 1:12 left thanks to a three-pointer by Segan. That lead was Northwestern's second and final one of the night, the only other being a 5-4 lead with midway through the first.

Following a Salisbury miss, Mertz was fouled, but only converted one of two foul shots, making it 41-39 with 21 seconds left.

In front of a packed gymnasium in New Tripoli, Salisbury brought the ball up the court and junior Kelly Gonoude drilled a three-pointer from the top of the arc with five seconds left to thrust the Lady Falcons back into the lead, 42-41.

"We did the only thing we couldn't afford to do and that was let them make a three," Deutsch said.

With one chance left, Deutsch ran a play for Mertz to shoot a three right in front of Northwestern's bench. She got off the shot, but it went off the rim.

"It was just one of those nights where the shots weren't falling," Deutsch said.

The head coach was happy with his girls' defensive effort, but he knows you can't keep winning games in come-from-behind fashion as they have been doing.

"If you go to the well one too many times with coming back in games," he said. "It is going to come back to bite you and tonight it did."

Northwestern qualified for the District 11 Class AAA playoffs with a 53-21 win over Jim Thorpe last Saturday afternoon.