Metro champs: NU girls take home a win
With two minutes and 34 seconds remaining in the game, Nevada Union sophomore point guard Caroline Reeves shook her defender, took a hard dribble to the basket, pulled up and banked in an eight-foot jumper from the left side of the lane.
Reeves’ basket broke up a nearly seven-minute scoring drought for the Miners, essentially popping whatever tension had built among her team on offense. From that point on, the Miners cruised to what could be their first outright league championship since 1999.
With the Miners’ 51-39 win against Kennedy Wednesday night in Ali Gymnasium, Nevada Union improved to 10-1 in the Metro League with Kennedy dropping to 9-2. With just one game remaining this season, the Miners are assured of a championship, but will have to win at Yuba City Friday to avoid dropping into a co-championship with Kennedy.
Last season the Miners beat Yuba City in the final game of the regular season to split the league title with the Honkers, in a game that was eerily similar to this season’s Kennedy game.
Like last season, the Miners were unshakable on the free throw line, calmly hitting 9-of-12 free throws in the final 1:10 of the game.
Nevada Union trailed for just 1:16, after Kennedy scored the game’s opening basket with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter. Senior guard Mackey Purkey responded, however, with a 3-pointer with 5:25 on the clock to put the Miners ahead.
A minute and half later Purkey swished another shot from behind the arc to put the Miners up 8-2. Teammate Sarah McAtee took it from there, however, finishing the quarter with three straight baskets – one she converted into a three-point play after being fouled – to put Nevada Union up 15-6 after one quarter.
Kennedy pulled to with six going into halftime with Nevada Union leading 25-19.
The Miners increased their lead to double digits with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter, leading 36-24. It was at this point that the Miners’ offense went stale.
Kennedy went on a 10-0 run to cut the Miners’ lead to two at 36-34, while at the same time Nevada Union struggled offensively unable to score again until Reeves’ shot with 2:34 remaining in the game.
“Neither team could really get any flow, with all the calls being made like travels and illegal screens,” Nevada Union coach Duwaine Ganskie said. “We looked awful from about mid-way through the third quarter until about mid-way through the fourth quarter. We had no continuity on offense and were off balance in our sets.
“Caroline hit that big bank shot to get us off 36 and that bucket really loosened us up.”
Reeves finished with a game-high 15 points, with McAtee finishing with 10 points and six rebounds. Seven Miners scored in the game, with Christian Woodruff, Maria Viola, Olympia Jacobs and Reeves all pulling down four rebounds.
Kennedy coach Brandon Yung echoed Ganskie’s thoughts about the officiating making it hard for either team to get into any kind of rhythm.
“The tempo of the game changed with all the foul calls and it was hard to get an up tempo game going,” Yung said. “All the stoppage of the play stifled our momentum.”
The Cougars host Grant Friday, a team they beat 78-71 earlier this season, with Nevada Union traveling to Yuba City. The Miners beat the Honkers 53-41 at home. If the Miners lose, Nevada Union and Kennedy will split the league title.
“I’d never hope anything bad on any team,” Yung said when asked how hard he’d be rooting for Yuba City Friday. “I hope Nevada Union plays a good game, but it would be nice if Yuba city played just a little better.”
Kennedy went into the game ranked No. 3 in the Division I power rankings with Nevada Union at No. 4. With the Miners beating the Cougars now twice this season, Nevada Union may have a shot at a No. 1 seed.
To contact sportswriter Stacy Hicklin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4244.
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