MCDERMOTT – If you would have watched the first quarter of New Boston’s 63-60 win over Eastern Monday night and left, you would have just assumed that New Boston was going to roll to a big victory, giving them a berth in the sectional final.
Leading after the first quarter 17-6, the Tigers had all the momentum, closing the quarter on a 17-2 run. But, despite Eastern’s best punch to come back from being down double digits at two different points in Monday night’s contest, it was New Boston who came away with a three point sectional semifinal win.
“It was really an up and down game,” said New Boston head coach Kayla Wiley following Monday’s win, “At the beginning we started to pull away, but to begin the second they started to bring the pressure and we let them control the tempo which cost us. And from then on out it was like a three point shooting contest, for them at least.”
The three point shooting contest Wiley is referring to happened because of two players: Eastern junior Mackenzie Greene and freshman Abby Cochenour. After the first quarter in which the Eagles only put up six points, Greene and Cochenour caught fire, literally. The dynamic shooting duo combined for 12 three’s, six of which came in the final frame.
Even though New Boston’s attempts to limit Cochenour and Greene were halted by excellent shooting from the pair, it was the balanced scoring attack of the Tigers that helped propel them to victory.
Freshman Kenzie Whitley scored a team high 19 points, junior Lexus Oiler finished with 18, and junior Taylen Hickman finished with a career high 14 points in the Tigers win.
“If you watched us earlier in the year, we struggled scoring,” said Wiley when asked about her team’s balanced scoring efforts. “It’s an up and down game for us, we like to get out in transition. So does Eastern, which is probably why the score was so high. I think honestly our girls are more focused. We’ve been winning a lot more lately, so their demeanor is up. They’ve been focusing a lot more in practices, and we’ve been able to hit a lot of more shots that way.”
With Whitley, a freshman, leading New Boston in scoring with 19, Wiley loves the growth and development she has seen from her youngster over the course of the season, culminating in a great game on Monday.
“Along with Cochenour from Eastern, Kenzie is going to be a freshman you’re going to be watching from here on out. On the offensive end for us she’s often times the point guard for us in high intensity situations. And not only that, we have to put her on their best player, their quickest player. She’s doing a great job and I hope she continues to work and grow and by her senior year, look out.”
Wiley remarked a few weeks ago in a text conversation that she would love to get a tournament win for this team, to boost their confidence and continue playing in tournament style environments. After Monday night’s win, Wiley got her wish for her and her team’s season to continue for another game this Thursday against the one loss top-seeded Notre Dame Titans.
“I always tell the girls that how you play the next game carries over, how you practice carries over to the next day. I think with us winning down the stretch, I couldn’t have picked a better time for us to start winning than late in the season. We play a very tough out of conference schedule, and I think that and us winning later in the season and us focusing in more, I think that says that we’re ready to play Notre Dame now.”
The Tigers and Titans will do battle at Northwest High School Thursday, tipoff is slated for 6:15 p.m.
NB: 17-12-17-13 – 63
Eastern: 6-20-16-18 – 60
NB: 24 FG, 4 3PT (Whitley 2), 11/18 FT. Scoring: Whitley 19, L. Oiler 18, Hickman 14, Easter 9, S. Oiler 3
Eastern: 24 FG, 12 3PT (Ab. Cochenour 8), 0/0 FT. Scoring: Ab. Cochenour 36, Greene 16, Ad. Cochenour 4, White 4