McDERMOTT — Defense, rebounding, and a will to win late.
Those three things are ultimately what propelled the Northwest Lady Mohawks to a 32-30 win over visiting Minford in Southern Ohio Conference Division II play on Monday night.
Oh, and a pair of clutch free throws from junior guard Ava Jenkins — whose team-high 10th and 11th points came with just 13 seconds to play.
The result was a bounce-back win for the Lady Mohawks, which captured their sixth victory in eight tries and improved their league record to 4-1, while the Lady Falcons fell to 1-7 and 1-5 in league play.
Junior forward Kloe Montgomery and Jenkins aided the Lady Mohawks on the glass and on the defensive end as well.
Montgomery grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds and had four steals, as she and Jenkins helped Northwest — as a team — limit Minford to 10 points or less in each of the four quarters.
“Defense is what we did well tonight, we played probably as good of defense as we could,” Northwest coach Dave Frantz said, after the win. “Ava to me is one of the best defenders in the league, and she showed it tonight. Lot of basketball smarts on that girl, and also her quickness. Hitting those free throws at the end, those were big and that’s a lot of pressure on a kid. And what can you say about Kloe Montgomery? She played her best game she’s ever had for us. Against a bigger girl who was working her hard, her defense and rebounding were both really good.”
Assisting the Lady Mohawks on the glass was senior Valerie Copas, who grabbed 15 rebounds, and senior Haidyn Wamsley, who had six.
Copas and Wamsley, Northwest’s two leading scorers through its first eight games, combined for just 10 points — something that Minford coach Shane Davis was pleased with in his Lady Falcons’ effort.
“Defensively, I thought we manned up really well. We played some really good man-defense, switched off well and communicated on the floor,” Davis said. “I thought our effort was there and we played defense as a team. Still struggling to score, and they got us on rebounding. I think they had more offensive rebounds than we had, period.”
In the second half, no lead was larger than four points — as neither team could pull away to make it more than a two-possession game.
A crucial moment for both sides was when Minford senior Ally Coriell scored back-to-back buckets to give the Lady Falcons an 18-15 lead late in the third quarter.
Then, before the end of the period, a Montgomery two, a Jenkins three, and a Terah Webb two put the Lady Mohawks on a 7-0 run and gave them a 22-18 lead after three.
Minford took one final lead at 28-27 on a Livi Shonkwiler bucket — one of four in the fourth for the Lady Falcon senior.
“We made the 7-0 run and the thing we’ve got to be better at is finishing,” Frantz said. “When you make a run and take a lead, don’t let up. We didn’t try to slow it down any, but the shots quit falling. They made some adjustments, Shonkwiler scores eight in the fourth quarter — that’s a good ball player that comes up when the chips are down.”
Minford is one of several area teams which have suffered multiple postponements due to COVID-19 quarantines.
Its next chance at halting its current seven-game skid is a home game against Eastern on Thursday (Jan. 7).
The Lady Falcons picked up a victory against the Lady Eagles back on Nov. 23 — a 51-38 decision in what was their first game of the season.
“I think tonight, we’re starting to come back into it,” Davis said. “We hit strides. This team just needs to play together, getting used to each other offensively. I think as we play more, we’re getting better and making strides every day.”
As for Northwest, its rest of the season schedule for the next five or so weeks is very similar to many area teams — three games a week with multiple league games each and every week.
“Counting this week, we have five straight weeks of at least three games a week,” Frantz said. “We want them to rest, get their sleep. Oak Hill on Thursday and a makeup with Waverly on Saturday — it does not get any easier.”
As Frantz alluded to, Northwest is back in action on Thursday at Oak Hill — in its fifth game versus the Lady Oaks over the last two seasons.
The Lady Mohawks won the first battle between the SOC II rivals, 47-40 in overtime, in a Saturday morning tip back on Dec. 19.
Tip time for Thursday’s tilt is set for 6 p.m.
* * *
Minford 3 9 6 12 — 30
Northwest 6 5 11 10 — 32
MINFORD 30 (1-7, 1-5 SOC II)
Bella Reffit 1 0-0 2, Kynedi Davis 2 0-0 4, Ally Coriell 4 1-5 9, Livi Shonkwiler 5 1-2 11, Haley Knore 0 0-2 0, Addyson Akers 1 0-0 2, Micah Thacker 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 14 2-9 30; Three-point field goals: none
NORTHWEST 32 (6-2, 4-1 SOC II)
Terah Webb 1 0-0 2, Valerie Copas 1 5-8 7, Haidyn Wamsley 1 1-2 3, Ava Jenkins 4 2-4 11, Reagan Lewis 1 0-0 2, Faith Jewett 0 0-0 0, Audrey Knittel 0 0-0 0, Kloe Montgomery 3 1-4 7; TOTALS 11 9-18 32; Three-point field goals: 1 (Ava Jenkins 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved