McDowell, Harper combine for 33 as North Adams wins 12th straight –
By Mark Carpenter –
Peaking at the right time. Every coach’s goal is to have their peaking as they head into tournament play, but for North Adams head coach Rob Davis, his Lady Devils have been getting better and better since Dec. 11, which was the last time they lost a game. Since that time, the North Adams varsity girls have won 12 in a row, with number 12 coming on their home court on Monday, Jan. 29 when they survived to pin a 55-53 win over the Washington Court House Lady Blue Lions.
The non-conference win on Monday was a big win in numerous ways, first to keep the winning streak alive, and second to possibly secure the number two seed in the upcoming Division III tournament draw, with a nice win over a state-ranked Division II squad on their list of accomplishments. North Adams will go into the draw with a solid 15-2 record and they are still in a first place tie in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference with Eastern Brown, with three conference games remaining for both teams at press time.
This was a huge win for us,” said Coach Davis after the win. “We get a big lead going into the fourth, they come back and cut it to one, and we Showed poise and stuck it out. We did miss some easy shots and got in a little foul trouble, but that was a good team we just beat.”
“We panicked a little bit when they stepped up the pressure in the fourth quarter and sometimes didn’t keep our composure, and we have to improve that because we will see that kind of pressure come tournament time. We have to take care of the ball in crunch time.”
Monday night’s game with the Lady Blue Lions was a battle, just as expected, right from the opening tip when an unguarded Grace McDowell drilled a three-pointer to get the scoring started. The Lady Devils also got early treys from Taylor Hesler and Madee Shipley to open up a 9-4 advantage at the 4:25 mark of the first quarter.
The Lady Blue Lions, ranked 11th in Division II in the latest polls, battled back as the North Adams defense had no answer for the quickness and explosion to the basket of Washington guard Rayana Burns, who three times in the opening stanza, split the defense for uncontested layups to keep her team close. Washington ended the first period on an 8-0 run, two of those baskets by Burns, and took a 16-13 lead.
“We were supposed to stay off of Burns a bit and make her shoot it, but we jumped out on here and she just drove tight by us being so quick,” said Davis.
The visitors extended that to 12-0 run when they scored on their first two possessions of the second quarter, and the run finally ended when North Adams’ Lakyn Hupp fired in a “3” from deep in the corner that made it 20-16, but the Lady Lions answered with a three from Shawna Conger to put their lead back at seven. The Lady Devils had an answer, going on a 9-4 run over the next four minutes, including another McDowell three and a stick back by Avery Harper that eventually tied the game a 27. Harper had a big second quarter as North Adams took advantage of Washington’s big girl, Hannah Haithcock, being forced to the bench with two fouls.
In a low-scoring final two minutes of the first half, Washington got a put back bucket from Bre Taylor and the Lady Devils got a Delaney Harper free throw and at the break, the Lady Blue Lions held a slim 29-28 lead.
Whatever speech Coach Davis pulled out of the hat for halftime worked like magic as the Lady Devils opened the second half like gangbusters. With Washington on top 33-30, North Adams reeled off the game’s next 10 points, culminated by a pair of “nothing but net” three-pointers by Shipley, and with 3:26 left in the third, the Lady Devils had their biggest lead at 40-33. After the Lady Blue Lions got a bucket from Haithcock, two baskets by Hupp and another McDowell three-pointer by McDowell ended the third period with North Adams up by double digits and with the home crowd on its feet, leading 47-35.
The Lady Blue Lions didn’t get a state ranking for nothing and they showed that in the final quarter, putting on a furious rally that nearly resulted in a miraculous come-from-behind win. After two Hupp free throws pushed the home team’s led out to 14, Washington quickly sliced that in half by scoring seven straight, turning the tables on the Lady Devils and engaging some serious defensive pressure that seemed to rattle the home team.
A basket by Haithcock with three minutes to play pulled Washington to within 51-46 and when she nailed a three a minute later, the home fans started to sweat a bit as their team’s lead was down to 53-49. As the Lady Devils struggled to just get the ball past midcourt, a basket with 1:40 to go by Taylor made it a two-point game. Avery Harper hit one of two free throws at the 1:19 mark to put the Lady Devils back up by three, but Washington responded with a pair of Haithcock free tosses to get back to within one.
Hupp was fouled with 22.8 seconds left and missed the front end of a bonus situation and with a chance to take the lead, Washington missed a three-point attempt and the put back, with a dual possession resulting, and the arrow pointing the North Adams way. On the inbounds, Harper was fouled with 3.6 seconds left and hit the first shot, but missed the second. Burns grabbed the rebound and streaked up the court, but here running three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark and the Lady Devils had held on for the exciting 55-53 triumph.
“This win should wrap us up the two seed in the sectional,” added Davis. “We’re going into the draw with two losses which should put us in a pretty good spot. The crowd was great tonight and a shout out to our Pit Crew, the best student section in southeast Ohio.”
The winning Lady Devils placed a pair of girls in double figures, Avery Harper leading the way with 18, with Grace McDowell adding 15. Lakyn Hupp added 9 as did Madee Shipley, all coming on three-point goals, three of the eight that North Adams tallied in the victory.
Washington was led by Hannah Haithcock’s 19 points, with the shifty Rayana Burns adding 15. The loss dropped the Lady Blue Lions to 16-2 on the year, their only other loss coming to Miami Trace, a team that also defeated North Adams in the season opener.
The Lady Devils were back in SHAC action on Thursday, Feb. 1 with a road trip to battle the 4-14 Lady Jays, then will face a stern test out of conference on Saturday when they will see a familiar tournament foe traveling to face the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates.
16 13 6 18 –53
13 15 19 8 –55
Washington (53): Burns 7 1-3 15, Garrison 2 0-0 4, Taylor 3 0-0 6, Hines 1 0-0 2, Wall 1 0-0 2, Conger 2 0-0 5, Haithcock 8 2-4 19, Team 24 3-7 53.
N. Adams (55): Hesler 1 0-0 3, Hupp 3 2-4 9, M. Shipley 3 0-0 9, McDowell 6 0-0 15, D. Harper 0 1-2 1, A. Harper 6 6-8 18, Team 19 9-14 55.
Washington (2): Conger 1, Haithcock 1
N. Adams (8): Hesler 1, Hupp 1, M. Shipley 3, McDowell 3