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Green Ridge starts fast, holds off NW

December 4, 2012
Green Ridge High School

Green Ridge opened the Northwest Boys and Girls Basketball Invitational with a 61-46 win over the host Lady Mustangs on Monday night.

The Lady Tigers jumped out to a 21-8 lead after one quarter and held off a pair of Northwest runs.

“We have to work together in the offense, look for open people, find the holes, find the cuts so we can work as a team,” said sophomore forward Libby Dove.

Four Lady Tigers scored in double figures led by Dove’s 15 points. Samantha Unkel, who played for Northwest last season, added 12. Clare Chamberlin scored 11 and Ragin Dillon added 10.

“With other teams scouting and trying to stop Clare, we’ve had to get more people opportunities,” said Green Ridge coach Don Mayes. “They’ve stepped up this year. This is the second game we’ve scored over 60 and we’re spreading it around pretty well.”

Paige Norfleet led the Lady Mustangs with 17 points, 11 of those coming in the third quarter.

“She finally stepped up as the point guard,” said Northwest coach Ryan Schlender. “We’ve been having problems with ball handling and she stepped up and started beating her man. She attacked the basket like crazy.”

The Lady Tigers enjoyed a 42-32 rebounding edge, including 17 offensive rebounds leading to 13 second-chance points.

“That’s Clare and Libby and Ragin and Hali (Niceswander),” Mayes said. “That’s just their want-to. They do a really good job of not giving up on the play. It seems like for the last four years I’ve had Clare, she always seems to get the offensive boards. Now I’ve got Libby coming up as a sophomore and she’s the same way. They never stop going after the ball.”

On defense Green Ridge caused 19 Lady Mustang turnovers. Chamberlin grabbed three steals and Dove had two.

“We’ve been doing good on the stealing end,” Dove said. “We have to stay out of foul trouble, which we get into a lot, but our steals have been high this year and it’s helped a lot.”

The Lady Tigers on average have allowed 32.5 points per game this season, down from 45.8 points per game last year.

“We’ve actually changed our whole defensive philosophy this year,” Mayes said. “We’ve worked on being a more aggressive man-to-man defensive team. In our first four games now we’ve averaged several steals a game and we’re not allowing as many points inside.”

After a pair of Lindsey Blaylock baskets gave Northwest a 4-2 lead, Green Ridge went on a 12-0 run sparked by a 3-pointer and a layup from Unkel, the layup coming off a Chamberlin steal. Chamberlin then blocked a shot on the other end and took it the other way for a layup, drawing the foul. She missed the free throw but Dillon scored inside off an offensive rebound to make it 11-4. Niceswander followed that with a 3-pointer.

Down 21-8 after one, the Lady Mustangs got back to within six points midway through the second quarter. Norfleet was fouled hitting a jumper and converted the 3-point play, and Caiti Alexander hit a pair of baskets in the paint and a free throw to make it 22-16.

“We finally slowed down and we started playing our pace of basketball,” Schlender said. “We were taking care of the ball, which we’ve struggled with the past couple games. We weren’t forcing our shots. We were getting the ball, taking it, attacking the basket and taking a good, open shot.”

The Lady Mustangs had several chances to get the lead down to four but a turnover and a miss rebounded by Green Ridge kept the lead at six before Dillon hit a basket cutting down the lane to increase the lead to eight.

Green Ridge scored on six of its last eight possessions of the half to take a 36-24 lead into the break. Dove scored six points during that stretch while BreAnna Peck hit a pair of jumpers.

Green Ridge started the third quarter with a 9-1 run capped off by a Niceswander 3-pointer with five minutes left in the period. After a Northwest basket, Unkel hit another 3-pointer to make it 48-27.

But Northwest answered with an 11-4 run over the rest of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth. Norfleet hit a pair of jumpers and a layup and went 5 of 6 from the free-throw line over that stretch, and the Lady Mustangs capped off the run with a basket from Jessi Zimmerman and a pair of Lakota Wiskur free throws.

Meanwhile, Green Ridge turned the ball over six times in that stretch and shot 1 of 17 from the field.

“They were trying to make too many spectacular passes instead of safe passes,” Mayes said. “When they started settling down and running our offense they saw that it worked.”

With four minutes left in the game and the lead down to 12 at 52-40, Dove hit a pair of baskets and moments later Dillon made a putback and Northwest didn’t threaten after that.

Green Ridge advanced to the championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Lady Tigers will face the winner of Thursday’s Bunceton-Otterville game. Northwest will face Malta Bend at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the consolation bracket.

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