FRANKFORT —Unfortunately for the Lady Mohawks, it was a classic case of too little —and way too late.
That’s because, amid playing a waiting game before actually playing the game itself on Wednesday, Northwest’s furious comeback bid to capture its first girls basketball sectional championship in eight years fell just short — as the 10th-seeded Lady Mohawks lost at seventh-seeded Adena by a narrow count of 47-43 in a Division III semifinal tilt.
The Lady Mohawks, which struggled mightily through an epic scoring drought of six minutes and only two points in a disastrous second quarter, made the most of an impressive rally attempt at Adena High School —and set some dramatics up for the final 34 seconds.
Northwest’s Ava Jenkins dropped in a corner-pocket three-pointer with that much time to play —more importantly slicing the Lady Warriors’ advantage down to 46-43.
Then, after a timeout, Reagan Lewis nearly made the play of the Lady Mohawks’ season —stealing an Adena inbounds heave for a pass against full-court pressure.
But in trying to make a play, and keeping possession of the ball, Northwest committed a turnover —and Adena’s Jadyn Smith was fouled with 27 seconds showing, and with the Warriors well into the double-bonus free-throw situation.
Smith, who didn’t make any field goals but ventured to the free-throw line a whopping 14 times including 10 in the consequential fourth quarter, sank her final of nine foul shots — a split for the 47-43 lead.
Lewis then missed a three-pointer with nine-and-a-half seconds left followed by a Jenkins miss, and that meant Northwest was once again denied in a second consecutive sectional final — both under the newly-utilized super-sectional format incorporated by the Southeast District.
With the loss, the Lady Mohawks fell to 15-7, while the Scioto Valley Conference champions and senior-less Lady Warriors advanced — raising their record to 17-3.
A year ago, on a neutral floor at Valley High School, 12th-seeded Oak Hill knocked out the fifth-seeded Lady Mohawks —as Northwest won 20 games last year and graduated just one senior.
But that graduation loss of Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association second-team all-district performer Keirah Potts was key, and Northwest —despite the remainder of its roster returning — never got to celebrate a sectional title.
The Lady Mohawks’ last sectional championship remains 2013, as 2006 was the most recent one before then.
“Really wanted to cut a net down with these girls, because that’s been their thing. They really wanted to do that so bad. But I guess it just wasn’t meant to be,” said Northwest coach Dave Frantz. “I really think the world of these kids, and I hate it for them that we didn’t get to cut down a net tonight and celebrate a sectional title.”
They almost did, outscoring Adena 30-21 in the second half — and overcoming a pair of 16-point (29-13 and 31-15) third-period deficits.
Over the final dozen minutes, Northwest won the scoring battle 26-16 —as Jenkins, better known for her on-ball defense, tallied 10 of her team-high 13 points in the second half.
She finished with five total field goals and 2-of-3 free throws, as her old-fashioned three-point play with 2:27 to go made it 42-35 — before she banged home her three-point goal, getting the Lady Mohawks their closest since a 12-11 deficit at first-quarter’s end.
Lewis then made the steal, and Frantz furiously tried to call a timeout with Northwest in possession, but unfortunately the turnover resulted first.
“Ava (Jenkins) with ice in her veins knocks that three down, and I was screaming but I just couldn’t get a timeout called quick enough on the steal,” said the coach. “That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes.”
Northwest’s Haidyn Wamsley, with two twos and three treys to tie Jenkins with 13 points, swished two trifectas in the second half — as fellow senior Valerie Copas overcame foul trouble to score all six of her fourth-quarter points on two field goals and 2-of-5 foul shots.
Lewis, on three baskets, also scored six — as Kloe Montgomery, before fouling out with six-and-a-half minutes remaining, mustered five.
The eight-in-the-rotation Lady Mohawks were seriously impacted by foul trouble, as Copas picked up a first-half three — and Montgomery her final four through the first nine-and-a-half minutes of the second half.
With 2:45 remaining, the Lady Warriors were officially in the double bonus — as Adena, at the same juncture, just had three personals whistled on it.
For comparison’s sake, Smith shot 5-of-10 in the fourth-quarter alone — while Northwest made and attempted those exact same amounts (5-of-10) for the entire game.
Adena enjoyed 26 trips to the charity stripe and sank 17, as Emma Garrison was 5-of-6 and Keira Williams a fourth-canto 3-of-5.
Garrison tossed in 11 points which included three field goals, as Adena converted seven of its first eight free throws through the opening three quarters.
But of those three stanzas, the Lady Mohawks managed Montgomery’s bucket at the 2:18 mark for their only second-period points.
In fact, for an eight-minute and nine-second stretch in the first half —that basket and Montgomery’s split of first-quarter freebies were Northwest’s only markers.
After trailing 7-2 at the 4:40 mark of the first quarter following Wamsley’s first three, the Lady Warriors reversed the course —and found themselves firmly ahead at 26-13 at halftime.
For those into counting, that’s a 24-6 run over a 12-minute and 40-second span —which included five consecutive Northwest turnovers, including two offensive fouls to start the second quarter.
Oh, and couple that with Warrior freshman Caelan Miner coming in off the bench and splashing four three-pointers.
In fact, those were the Lady Warriors’ only four three-balls, as Miner tacked on a third-quarter two-pointer —for a game-high 14 points.
Frantz said the poor start was a combination of what Adena did —and his Lady Mohawks not having any practice time since Saturday’s sectional semifinal win.
“The second quarter killed us tonight. We couldn’t get anything to fall. When you haven’t been in the gym in four days and your hand is forced that you still have to play a game that’s scheduled on time, it’s tough and I don’t think it’s fair to the kids. I’m not taking anything away from Adena, because they are a very good team and a well-coached team. Coach (Andrew) Day does a nice job with their girls,” he said.
The Warriors shot a sizzling 68-percent from the field on 17-of-25, including 4-of-8 from three-point range.
Sydney Fogelsong’s four field goals resulted in eight points, as Williams with a four-quarter bucket finished with five.
Both teams played eight players and posted five in the scoring column.
Frantz praised his girls’ grit and fight —and their outright refusal to quit when Wednesday’s waiting game, and early on-court outcome, didn’t go their way.
“These girls fought and scrapped and I can’t say enough about them. We were down 13 at halftime, and we (coaching staff) went in and told them that they are not quitters,” he said. “I think the second half we proved to everybody that we’re not quitters.”
The Lady Mohawks still have two Southern Ohio Conference Division II bouts remaining, at West and at Waverly —with West hosting Northwest in a makeup matchup on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Those will be the final two games for Northwest’s three seniors —Wamsley, Copas and Terah Webb.
“All three of them fought tonight like they have for all four years. Terah (Webb) made some gutsy plays at the end, Val (Copas) started trying to take over in the fourth quarter, and I think Haidyn (Wamsley) came out for five seconds the whole game,” said Frantz. “I really feel for my three seniors. They really played their butts off, they are like daughters to me and I can’t say enough about them. Wouldn’t trade them or our seven underclassmen for any group in the whole world. I am keeping these 10.”
Northwest 11 2 13 17— 43
Adena 12 14 9 12 — 47
NORTHWEST 43 (15-7)
Terah Webb 0 0-0 0, Valerie Copas 2 2-5 6, Haidyn Wamsley 5 0-0 13, Ava Jenkins 5 2-3 13, Faith Jewett 0 0-0 0, Reagan Lewis 3 0-0 6, Audrey Knittel 0 0-0 0, Kloe Montgomery 2 1-2 5; TOTALS 17 5-10 43; Three-point field goals: 4 (Haidyn Wamsley 3, Ava Jenkins 1)
ADENA 47 (17-3)
Caelan Miller 5 0-0 14, Kiera Williams 1 3-5 5, Jadyn Smith 0 9-14 9, Makenna Lovely 0 0-0 0, Sydney Fogelsong 4 0-1 8, Makaela Lovely 0 0-0 0, Emma Garrison 3 5-6 11, Cheyanne Ater 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 13 17-26 47; Three-point field goals: 4 (Caelan Miner 4)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved