North Adams hangs on for 38-37 win in district semis –
By Mark Carpenter –
The district championship game has become a familiar spot for Coach Rob Davis and his North Adams Lady Devils and on Saturday, they will again battle for the Division III district title. The Lady Devils again earned that trip to the finals with a heart-stopping 38-37 win on Feb. 24 over the Ironton Lady Tigers, in a district semi-final contest played at Waverly High School.
Saturday’s game was a tight one from beginning to end, with the Lady Devils rallying from an early seven-point deficit and then overcoming three missed free throws in the game’s final minute to hang on for the thrilling one-point victory.
“We knew the game was going to be really physical,” said Coach Davis in his postgame radio interview. “The officials let them play today and I thought we did a great job defensively.”
The Waverly High School gymnasium can be a toug place for shooters and that was the case early on Saturday for the North Adams squad as they could only muster two baskets in the entire first period, one of those on their first possession by Avery Harper. Ironton then reeled off the game’s next nine points, with an old-fashioned three-point play by Alexis Wise giving the Lady Tigers a 9-2 lead. A Grace McDowell three-pointer at the 2:48 mark proved to be the final points of the first quarter that ended with Ironton on top 9-5.
After the Lady Tigers got the first two of the second frame, a Taylor Hesler steal resulted in a three-point play by Brooklyn Stout to make it 11-8. Ironton’s Alexis Arden drilled a three-pointer to put her team up six, but a later trifecta by Madee Shipley pulled the Lady Devils within 15-13. A bucket by Harper tied the game and the two teams swapped buckets in the half’s final minute to go to the halftime break deadlocked at 17 apiece.
The back and forth continued as the second half began with McDowell getting behind the Ironton press for an easy two and a pair of a basket and free throw by Wise putting Ironton back in front. A nice drive and reverse layup by Lakyn Hupp flipped the scoreboard again and was the start of a 6-0 North Adams run that gave the Lady Devils their biggest lead of the game to that point at 25-20.
That prosperity was short-lived, however, as the Lady Tigers scored the game’s next six and grabbed a 26-25 lead with 1:26 left in the third period, but back bounced the Lady Devils to get a stick back from Harper and a Hupp three-pointer to swing the momentum and take a 30-26 lead into the final eight minutes.
Early in the fourth quarter, baskets by Hesler and Delaney Harper extended the North Adams advantage to six at 34-28 with 4:47 to play. The Lady Tigers responded with a pair of buckets by Arden, but North Adams answered with a bucket and two free throws by Avery Harper to go back up by six.
A Wise free throw with 2:54 to go made it 38-33 before things got really interesting and really stressful for the large crowd on the North Adams side of the gym. After the Lady Devils held the ball and ran some time off the clock, they turned it over with 1:17 to play, followed by Ironton missing a three-point attempt. Hupp was fouled with 57.8 seconds left, but missed the front end of the one-and-one, and the Lady Tigers capitalized with a basket by Haylee Stevens to cut the North Adams lead to 38-35.
The Lady Tigers then fouled Hesler and she also missed the front end of the bonus and when Wise got loose on the other end for a wide-open layup, the lead was down to one. On the inbounds, McDowell was fouled with 13.9 ticks left, and for the third time in succession, the Lady Devils missed the first shot of a bonus situation, giving Ironton a shot to win or tie.
A nice defensive play by McDowell to tip a pass out of bounds left the Lady Tigers to inbounds with 3.2 seconds left. The throw-in came to Wise who dribbled into the front court and surrounded by defenders got off a clean three-point attempt that was off the mark as the buzzer sounded and the jubilant Lady Devils had escaped and advanced with the 38-37 triumph.
Leading the way for the winners was again Avery Harper, who put up an impressive double double of 16 points and 13 rebounds. Harper was the only Lady Devil in double figures, but the winners got numerous contributions from others, especially on the defensive end. Laky Hupp and Brooklyn Stout finished with 5 and 3 points respectively, but their contributions in defending Ironton’s Wise were instrumental in the victory, with Stout picking up 3 steals along the way. Taylor Hesler tallied two baskets but again was multi-valuable in her role as the team’s point guard. Grace McDowell also scored 5 for the Lady Devils.
“Stout was just outstanding for us today,” said Coach Davis. “She came in and gave us some really great minutes. We got a big bucket from Delaney and everyone played their role today and it was a total team effort.”
Now the North Adams road leads back to the district finals, a place they have been before, but never advanced beyond. That ask will not be an easy one as North Adams, now 20-3 on the year, will face the #1 seeded Fairland Lady Dragons. That match up with a trip to the regional tourney on the line will take place at Waverly High School on Saturday, March 3 at 3:30 p.m.
“As the old saying goes, they put their pants on the same way we do,” said Davis. “We will have a week to prepare and we will see what we can do. They’ve got a good team, there’s a reason for them being a number one seed. It’s time for us to get that district championship.”
9 8 9 11 –37
5 12 13 8 –38
Ironton (37): Schreck 1 0-0 2, Wise 7 4-7 18, Hannan 1 0-1 2, Williams 2 0-1 4, Stevens 1 0-0 2, Arden 4 0-0 9, Team 16 4-9 37.
N. Adams (38): Hesler 2 0-1 4, Hupp 2 0-1 5, Stout 1 1-1 3, M. Shipley 1 0-0 3, McDowell 2 0-1 5, D. harper 1 0-0 2, A. Harper 7 2-2 16, Team 16 3-6 38.
Ironton (1): Arden 1
N. Adams (3): Hupp 1, M. Shipley 1, McDowell 1