Baskets proved hard to come by during Tuesday’s matchup between highly-ranked Northwest and Hastings St. Cecilia.
The teams combined for 13 more rebounds (85) than points (72).
But Erin Sorahan knocked down what may have been the biggest opportunity of the game.
The senior’s 3-pointer with 3:43 left sparked Class B No. 2-rated Northwest to a game-closing 9-2 run and a 41-31 victory over the C-2 No. 3 Hawkettes.
Sorahan’s trey came just 14 seconds after Clare Hamburger’s 3-pointer on the other end had pulled St. Cecilia (9-1) to within 32-29.
A basket each from Shelby Schacher and Katie Placke and two McKenzie Brown free throws helped Northwest (11-1) close out the win.
"Erin hit a huge three to widen the gap there," Northwest coach Mike Herzberg said. "Obviously with McKenzie at the free-throw line, that’s a good thing."
The Vikings shot 16-for-54 (29.6 percent) from the floor while the Hawkettes were 12-for-49 (24.5 percent).
St. Cecilia coach Jahn Kile credits the defenses for those numbers.
"Both teams played pretty good defense, and they’re long enough that when they contested our shots, it’s tough," he said. "I thought they did a good job of staying in front of us.
"Even when we penetrated, there was help defense coming, and they did a great job of playing defense and holding us to 31 points."
Herzberg also felt that St. Cecilia’s defense has a big impact on his team’s shooting performance.
"They’re a good club defensively, and I think we pressed at times on a few possessions," he said. "That might have been some of our shooting percentage.
"But give them credit. They play hard, and they came in here expecting to win. I’m proud of my girls because when we needed to make plays that last three-and-a-half minutes, we made plays."
St. Cecilia led 11-10 going into the second quarter, but Northwest opened with an 8-1 run and never trailed again.
The Hawkettes hung right behind the Vikings but never could generate a run to retake the lead.
"We talked about needing to get a run and get the lead," Kile said. "When we start believing a little more, then we can do it. It just seemed like we could never get that 6-0, 7-0 run that you want to have."
Northwest almost stretched its lead into double figures twice in the middle quarters only to see St. Cecilia claw its way back.
"We never could get away from them," Herzberg said. "We’d be up four or six, and we couldn’t get up eight or 10 because they’d hit a shot.
"We forced it and times and maybe didn’t take the best shot, and they just kept playing hard."
Kile said little plays made a big difference in the game. He pointed towards the final plays of the first two quarters.
At the end of the first, Sorahan’s tip of a Brown miss went in at the buzzer to cut St. Cecilia’s lead to 11-10.
At the end of the second, a St. Cecilia basket came just after the buzzer, and the Vikings maintained a 20-17 advantage at halftime.
Kile said it wasn’t an easy loss for his players to take.
"It’s hard," he said. "They’re competitive enough that they’re ticked off."
Only two players finished with double-figure points compared to four with double-figure rebounds.
Brown finished with a game-high 18 points, but she uncharacteristically struggled to a 6-for-28 shooting performance. She did score seven unanswered points to give the Vikings a 32-24 advantage early in the fourth.
Brown also had 12 rebounds. Kennadi Keezer had 13 boards and Placke 12.
Hamburger led the Hawkettes with 16 points while Morgan Nikkila collected 10 rebounds.
Herzberg said this win along with Saturday’s victory over then Class B No. 4 York have provided his team with some good lessons.
"We have to make sure we’re ready every night, and I think we were ready," he said. "Every possession counts. Those possessions we did make plays in the first and second (quarters) ended up being big towards the end of the game.
"We can continue to grow every night. The opponent is different defensively, so we need to make sure every night to attack their weakness. Sometimes that’s on the inside, sometimes that might be on the outside. I think we did that good at times tonight, but maybe not for 32 minutes."
Northwest 41, Hastings SC 31
HASTINGS ST. CECILIA (9-1)
Sheehy 1-7 0-0 2, Hamburger 6-13 2-5 16, Farmer 1-9 0-0 3, Wright 1-3 0-2 2, Nikkila 3-16 1-4 8, Schwenka 0-1 0-0 0, Skoch 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-49 3-11 31.
Placke 2-5 0-0 4, Sorahan 4-8 0-0 9, Brown 6-28 4-4 18, Rathke 0-1 0-0 0, Keezer 3-8 1-4 7, Schacher 1-3 0-0 2, Schleicher 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 16-54 6-10 41.
Hastings SC 11 6 7 7—31
Northwest 10 10 8 13—41
3-point field goals—HSC 4-21 (Sheehy 0-3, Hamburger 2-5, Farmer 1-5, Nikkila 1-8), NW 3-20 (Placke 0-2, Sorahan 1-3, Brown 2-12, Rathke 0-1, Schacher 0-2). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—HSC 36 (Nikkila 10), NW 49 (Keezer 13). Assists—HSC 7 (Nikkila 4), NW 7 (Placke, Brown 2). Turnovers—HSC 13, NW 14. Total fouls—HSC 13, NW 13. Technicals—none.
Hastings SC boys 44, Northwest 38
Alex Sheehy’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:07 left broke a tie and sent Class C-2 No. 5-rated Hastings St. Cecilia to a 44-38 win over Northwest Tuesday.
Sheehy added a free throw with 27.3 seconds left and Brooks Asher added two with 11.4 seconds to clinch the win.
"I thought our composure was really strong the whole fourth quarter because we’ve been in a lot of close games up to this point," Bluehawks coach Kevin Asher said. "The last 1:20, I thought our kids did a good job. We had a couple of travels in there before that, but it didn’t shake them.
"We called a timeout and said we really wanted to look for the flare screen on the backside, and I thought when Sheehy got the ball, he’s a pretty solid shooter when nobody’s out there."
Northwest coach Ryan Rathke didn’t leave disappointed with his team’s performance.
"I loved the effort," he said. "I thought the kids gave great effort all the way through. We were down six (in the fourth quarter) and came back to tie it up.
"Sometimes you’ve got to tip your hat to your opponent and them knocking the three down. That was a big shot that he hit right at the end of the game there."
St. Cecilia (9-3) led 36-30 with 3:26 to go, but the Vikings knotted it up at 38 on a pair of Darrek McNelis free throws with 1:34 left.
But the Vikings (4-8) didn’t score again.
Rathke said mistakes on defense hurt Northwest in the final period.
"Defensively, we gave up some easy buckets inside," he said. "We had a lack of communication. They did some slip stuff on some screens that they hadn’t done in the first half, but we should be able to handle that.
"A big part of the game in the second half was that we were giving them easy buckets inside."
Hastings St. Cecilia knocked down its first four 3-pointers of the game to lead 12-6 midway through the first quarter. But the Bluehawks needed 18 minutes to score its next 12 points and trailed 22-15 at halftime.
Northwest, however, was limited to six points and four shots from the floor in the third quarter and saw its lead cut to 28-26 entering the fourth quarter. St. Cecilia opened the final period with a 10-2 run to go up 36-30.
"Offensively we were scoring inside (in the first half)," Rathke said. "They made some adjustments there. They were sagging in the second half taking away our post entries."
McNelis scored 11 of his game-high 16 points before halftime.
"McNelis really tore us up in the first half," Kevin Asher said. "Their interior is bigger than us and a little stronger. I thought we needed to do a better job of doubling off from post to post instead of guard to post because our guards weren’t strong enough to get a good double team on him.
"We doubled and kept the ball out of the low post, and that really helped. Our post defense was a lot better the whole second half, and our posts on offense played better as well."
Zach Kitten led St. Cecilia with 13 points while Sheehy finished with 12. Thomas Skoch scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter.
Hastings SC 44, Northwest 38
HASTINGS ST. CECILIA (9-3)
Sealey 1-2 0-0 3, Asher 2-6 2-2 8, Kitten 5-9 3-5 13, Skoch 2-5 4-6 8, Sheehy 3-7 3-6 12, Teano 0-2 0-0 0, O’Keeffe 0-1 0-0 0, Poppe 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 13-32 12-21 44.
McNelis 6-9 4-6 16, Schliep 2-7 0-0 4, Shultis 2-3 0-2 5, Koepp 2-7 2-2 6, Dahlkoetter 0-1 0-0 0, Ellsworth 3-3 0-2 7, Daws 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-2 0-0 0, Glause 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-32 6-12 38.
Hastings SC 12 3 11 17—44
Northwest 14 8 6 10—38
3-point field goals—HSC 6-14 (Sealey 1-2, Teano 0-2, Asher 2-4, Sheehy 3-6), NW 2-8 (McNelis 0-1, Schliep 0-3, Shultis 1-2, Ellsworth 1-1, Brown 0-1). Fouled out—McNelis. Rebounds—HSC 20 (Kitten 8), NW 24 (McNelis 10). Assists—HSC 9 (Sealey, Asher 3), NW 12 (Koepp 4). Turnovers—HSC 6, NW 11. Total fouls—HSC 12, NW 18. Technicals—none.