MINFORD – It wasn’t the prettiest of victories if you’re a Minford fan, but in the end, the Falcons grinded out a double digit victory at home over a much improved Northwest team, 55-43.
“It’s an ugly win,” said Minford head coach Shane Davis following the Falcons 12 point win over Northwest Thursday night. “I told the girls that an ugly win is always better than an ugly loss. I don’t know if it was if we overlooked or what.”
Davis continued to say that it wasn’t for the lack of trying on the Mohawks part, they gave them one heck of a game on the Falcons senior night.
“Not to take anything away from Northwest, he [Mohawks head coach Dave Frantz] had his girls ready to play. From tip, I actually think they won tip which is shocking to begin with, but they won tip and they were ready to get after it. Not to take anything away from them, he did a heck of a job getting them prepared for us.”
That quote from Davis is maybe an understatement. One of the most improved teams, if not the most improved team in the district in Northwest, hung within at least two possessions for most of the game. Even heading into the fourth quarter, Northwest held a one point lead over the Falcons as they hoped for a senior night road upset win.
But, in the end, it was the Falcons defense, and some young mistakes from Northwest, that propelled the Minford win. In the final frame, Minford outscored the Mohawks 17-4 to walk away with the twelve point decision.
Going into the fourth quarter trailing by one, it wasn’t a frustrating conversation that Davis had with his team, it was a reassuring one.
“I told them that we’ve worked too hard. We’ve worked too hard for this, it’s a long season, we’ve been working since October. We’ve got two seniors, let’s send them out on a good note. I got excited throughout the game, but I didn’t have to at that time, it was a calm conversation. They react to me and my energy, but it wasn’t needed at that time.”
Two of the key players that helped fuel the Mohawks lead through three quarters were two sophomores, Val Eury and Haidyn Wamsley.
In the first three quarters, if Eury missed anything she threw up, it was a surprise. The talented sophomore finished with a game high 18 points, 14 of which came in the first 16 minutes of play. Wamsley finished second in scoring for the game with 15 for the night. As long as the young Mohawks continue to grow and improve, look out for them as a perennial threat in the SOC II race in years to come.
On a night in which the two Minford seniors, Caitlyn Puckett and Ashley Blankenship, were honored, it was a sophomore filled night, including for Minford’s Livi Shonkwiler. Shonkwiler finished with 10 points to crack double digits and nearly double digit steals in one of her most impactful games of the season.
“Livi’s been one of our players who’s been there every night for us defensively,” said Davis. “She’s come along throughout the season on offense, but she’s always been there for us on that end of the court. She’s really good at help side, and she’s only getting better as the season goes.”
In their final games at home, senior Ashley Blankenship finished with a team high 14 points, and senior Caitlyn Puckett finished with 11.
Minford will face off against Waverly this Saturday before their sectional matchup on Monday at Valley against a much improved Portsmouth squad. Northwest is done for the regular season and will face off against Ironton on Wednesday at Valley in their opening sectional matchup.
“We go to Waverly on Saturday, and I know Coach Bonifield is going to have his girls ready,” said Davis. “We’ve got to go up there and take care of business. We get a draw in Portsmouth, and I know Coach Hughes is going to have her team ready, they’re much improved. Go up to Waverly and come away with a win, hopefully carry that momentum into Portsmouth, and go from there with whoever we might see.”
Minford: 14-13-11-17 – 55
Northwest: 13-12-14-4 – 43
Minford: 21 FG, 1 3PT (Tolle 1), 12/25 FT. Scoring: Blankenship 14, Puckett 11, Shonkwiler 10, Slusher 9, Tolle 6, Watters 5
Northwest: 17 FG, 3 3PT (Eury 2), 6/9 FT. Scoring: Eury 18, Wamsley 15, Potts 8, A. Jenkins 2