Harper scores 23 as North Adams drops third straight –
Story and photo by Mark Carpenter –
Coach Rob Davis and his North Adams Lady Devils knew coming into the past couple of weeks that their schedule was going to be a lot tougher, facing non-conference games with Washington, Minford, and Southeastern, a conference battle with Ripley, and a regular season finale with Wheelersburg. In that tough stretch, the first three of those games resulted in three close losses for the Lady Devils, as they prepare for a challenging Division III sectional tournament.
After losing to Washington and Minford by a combined total of four points, North Adams hosted the Southeastern Lady Panthers on Feb. 6, a team that was on a 19-game winning streak after dropping their season opener to Wheelersburg.
The Lady Devils gave the 19-1 Southeastern squad all they could handle in a wire-to-wire battle, playing a team that much resembled their own. After grabbing a lead to end the third quarter, the North Adams girls saw their visitors open the fourth stanza on a 10-2 run and the home team never recovered as the Lady Panthers left town with a 56-48 win.
“I was pleased with our effort tonight and I thought we guarded well,” said coach Davis after the game. “We had some crucial turnovers at some crucial times, we panic and don’t take care of the basketball at times. With two starters out, I thought we battled and got some key minutes off the bench.”
“They’re a good ball club and I though we had a good chance of knocking them off but just couldn’t hit some shots when we needed to. We just need to be more patient and understand the situations better.”
“I don’t like losing, continued Coach Davis, but these games are better for us than 50-point blowouts.”
The Lady Devils were kind of behind the eight ball going into Monday night’s game, being down two starters with point guard Taylor Hesler suffering from a concussion and shooting guard Grace McDowell out with the illness that seems to have invaded every team in the county. Even with that disadvantage, North Adams scrapped through the first quarter, dealing with a Southeastern pressure defense very similar to their own. Baskets by Avery Harper and Madison Jenkins gave the home team an early 4-2 lead, but the Lady Panthers bounced back to take a 17-8 lead with a 6-0 run fueled by their full-court press. A Brooklyn Stout three-pointer with 25 seconds left in the first period left the Lady Devils trailing by six.
North Adams took early control in the second stanza, beginning with an 8-2 run and adding in some solid play on the defensive end that pulled them to within 21-19 with 2:53 left in the first half. The Lady Panthers rebounded over that final 2:53 to take a 26-21 lead into the halftime locker room.
When two good basketball teams match up, expect a good, close affair with back and forth action and in the third quarter on Monday night, it was the Lady Devils who rallied back into the lead, behind leading scorer Lakyn Hupp, who was held scoreless in the first half. Hupp hit two free throws and then shots inside and outside of the three-point arc, combining with a bucket inside that gave the home side a 30-29 advantage with 3:49 left in the third.
The idea of throwing the ball inside to Harper worked well all night for North Adams as the 6’1” junior scored two more times in the paint, the later of those coming late in the third quarter and giving her team a 38-36 lead.
As the fourth quarter began, the Lady Panthers showed why they had won 19 straight and their two big guns did the damage. The Lady Panthers scored the first five of the period, all by talented guard Ella Skeens and her running mate Audrie Wheeler fired in a three as part of a 10-2 run to open the final stanza. It could have been much worse as the Lady Panthers missed six consecutive free throws during that span, though Skeens grabbed the offensive rebound on the last miss and converted for a 46-40 Southeastern lead.
Harper hit a basket and two foul shots to keep the home side within striking distance, but they never recovered from that quarter-opening Southeastern run. The Lady Panthers began to distance themselves, moving out to a double digit lead at 55-45 with less than a minute to play. The Lady Devils got a late Jenkins three-pointer, but that was all as Southeastern made it 20 straight with the 56-48 triumph.
North Adams dropped to 14-6 with the loss and was led in scoring by Avery Harper, who scored nearly half of their points with a game-high of 23. Madison Jenkins added 9 and Lakyn Hupp 7 for the home team.
The now 20-1 Lady Panthers were paced by 21 points from Ella Skeens, with Wheeler adding 14, and Skylar Hice chipping in 10.
The Lady Devils hosted Ripley on Thursday, Feb. 9, where a win would wrap up another Southern Hills Athletic Conference small school division title. Their regular season finale comes on Saturday, Feb. 11 when they host the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates and then it is on to sectional tournament action on Feb. 18 against Huntington.
17 9 10 20 –56
11 10 17 10 –48
Southeastern (56): Mitten 2 4-10 8, Wheeler 4 5-5 14, Skeens 9 3-5 21, Morris 1 0-2 2, Collins 0 1-2 1, Hice 4 2-2 10, Team 20 15-26 56.
N. Adams (48): Toole 1 0-0 2, Hupp 3 0-0 7, Stout 2 0-2 5, Shipley 1 0-0 2, Jenkins 4 0-0 9, Harper 8 7-9 23, Team 19 7-11 48.
Southeastern (1): Wheeler 1
N. Adams (3): Hupp 1, Stout 1, Jenkins 1