Advertisement

PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Gates' late bucket continues Northridge's season, Concord falls in Sectional 4 quarterfinals

Jan. 30—MIDDLEBURY — A game-winner in the final seconds highlighted Tuesday's quarterfinal action at the IHSAA Class 4A Northridge Sectional, hosted at Northridge Middle School's "Middlebury Madhouse" Tuesday night.

The revenge-seeking Raiders (22-3) kept their season alive with a comeback against Warsaw (14-8), while Penn (17-6) stuck to the status-quo in its win over the Concord Minutemen (9-13).

#8 NORTHRIDGE 57, WARSAW 55

With a standing-room-only crowd eager for an exciting finish, Northridge played the role of heartbreaker for visiting Tiger fans in attendance.

Holding the last possession, the Raiders began the final series with 22 seconds on the clock in a game knotted at 55.

Senior Morgan Cross got the action started with eight seconds left on the clock. Driving down the center of the lane, she was met by Warsaw's Alexis Neely and Brooke Winchester. Noticing the double-team, a back-cutting Gaby Gates charged from the left corner. Cross found her senior teammate underneath, watching as Gates kissed the ball off the glass for a 57-55 lead with two ticks left on the clock.

An erupting crowd celebrated the score. It was the second lead for the Raiders since early in the second quarter. A final heave was intercepted by Northridge's Sabrina Miller, and the buzzer sounded with a leaping Northridge sideline appropriately celebrating the win.

Northridge head coach Doug Springer was waiting for this moment.

"This summer we played in a tournament and we put the ball in Morgan's hands, down one, and she missed a layup," Springer said. "She was devastated. We said if we ever have a chance to win another game, the ball is in your hands."

"It was great execution by those two seniors who have played a lot together."

Gates described her vision of the winning score afterward.

"I saw two people on Morgan and I was in the corner and I was like 'I gotta cut,' so I back cut and Morgan always knows where I'm at," Gates said. "She threw it right away and I made it."

Cross finished with a team-high 20 points. Gates added 10.

The story was much different less than a month ago.

"I just turned 45 on Saturday and I think I just got more gray hair," Springer said following the 57-55 thrilling win over the Tigers. "Honestly, it's fun. That's why I coach to see the joy on their faces to know what we have fought for since January the fifth when we lost down there. We talked that we wanted another shot at them."

The Raiders got their revenge from losing 65-52 in early January. That game determined the Northern Lakes Conference title and was Warsaw's sixth-straight win over Northridge.

On Tuesday night, the Tigers tried running away just like they had in the first meeting. An early 8-0 run to start the game triggered a Raiders timeout. Rieyln Goodwin responded for Northridge, nailing a three as the homestanding Raiders took a 13-9 deficit into the second quarter.

Both teams traded similar-looking 8-0 runs in the second period, leading to the visitors holding a 28-24 advantage at the break.

Goodwin again led the charge out of the locker room, scoring eight points in the quarter, but letting the Tigers take a 44-38 lead into the final eight minutes.

Off the bench, Cam Conley lit a spark under the Raider's seats. Nailing the triple and a driving floater through the front of the paint, Warsaw's lead shrunk to three with just under seven minutes to go.

"They can make those shots any point of the time, it's just once they see that shot they're going to knock it down," Cross said of her teammates adding to the comeback. "As soon as they touch the ball, we have faith in each other."

Cross, noticeably all over the court Tuesday corralling rebounds and loose balls, scored a layup and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to create a 50-49 deficit. Sabrina Miller knocked down her first 3-pointer of the night with a deep shot at the top of the key, but Joslyn Bricker evened the score at 55 before the final possession.

The win meant something more than just keeping their season alive.

"Not being able to beat Warsaw in our three years, it feels amazing to finally get that last win when we needed it most our senior season," Gates said.

Springer echoed his team's resilience Tuesday night.

"They have three, maybe four division one players with Neely ... phenomenal players," the Raiders coach said of the Tigers. "But our balance, our depth laid it out. I thought Cam coming in, being the sixth-man, Lily Scholl, our freshman came in the first half and gave us some needed minutes."

"Our kids ... I can't express their fight, their togetherness and their trust in each other. I told our girls, I'm just glad I get two more days with them. It's a special team, special bond, special chemistry. We get two more days to continue to fight with our family."

The Raiders shot 21-of-45 from the floor and 5-of-13 from distance. They also added a 10-of-15 showing at the charity stripe. Cross led the way with 20 points and four steals. Goodwin followed with 15 points, trailed by Gates (10), Miller (7) and Conley (5).

Warsaw's Brooke Winchester was the main source of the Tigers offense, scoring 22 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. Bricker added 16 points followed by Brooke Zartman (6), Neely (4), Braylie Chastain (4) and Kelsey Wrenn (3). The Tigers shot 21-of-52 from the floor and 7-of-26 from beyond the arc. They were 6-of-9 at the line.

Northridge faces Elkhart Friday in the beginning of two games that night.

PENN 51, CONCORD 19

Concord hung tough early with Penn in a scrappy game to follow Tuesday night.

The Minutemen's defense were the beneficiaries of early misses to begin the game. Just four minutes in, a 2-2 stalemate had taken hold of the action.

Penn continued its defensive changes, turning over Concord 17 times in the opening half. At the break, the Kingsmen weren't able to grow a larger lead, taking a 21-10 difference into the locker room. Shelby Emerick led the team with five points at the break.

The second half showed up all Kingsmen. Holding a 30-18 lead, Penn jumped on a 21-1 run to end the game, holding Concord without a basket in the final frame.

Goshen will face Penn Friday in the semifinals.

Concord head coach Brandon Abel voiced his pleasure in the first nine-win season since 2020, adding that growing off that will be a focus in his second season.

"We grew a lot this season," Abel said. "I think if you look at tonight and what we have coming back. It's how can you become stronger offensively."

"Early on, I think after the Merrillville loss, I have Kambrya in my class and I said, 'Kam, if we can get to 10 wins this season after having a five-win season, that's huge,'" Abel added. "We we're right there, Goshen was in overtime, Edwardsburg was in our grasp, the South Side game ... there was just a lot of games that we were right there. We won two games in the NLC, five games in January ... we lose two players off that roster so hopefully this was a step in the right direction."

PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL

IHSAA Class 4A Sectional 4 — hosted at Northridge Middle School

Game 1:

Warsaw — 13 15 16 11 — 55

Northridge — 9 15 14 19 — 57

Northridge faces Elkhart in the semifinals Friday

Game 2:

Concord — 2 8 18 13 — 51

Penn — 13 8 8 1 — 19

Penn faces Goshen in the semifinals Friday

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at matt.lucas@goshennews.com.