Northeast Dubois eliminated in semifinalsFebruary 7, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
OAKLAND CITY — The Northeast Dubois girls basketball didn’t have the kind of regular season success they would have liked. They won six games all year and endured a lot of hard lessons as the players worked to find their way on the court. None of that mattered Friday night when they faced the Springs Valley Blackhawks in the Class 1A sectional semifinal. The Jeeps (6-18) played their best game of the season and battled in a way that wasn’t expected of them. However, they fell just short in a 45-42 loss to the Blackhawks.
“These girls wanted to prove people wrong, and they did,” said Jeeps coach Andy Chinn. “That’s a great team we just played. Our girls executed on both ends of the floor, really bought into the game plan and that was a total team effort by all 14 girls.”
The first half couldn’t have gone any better for the Jeeps. Not only did they get the benefit of dropping in four 3-pointers, but their defensive scheme was also effective at limiting Blackhawks (18-5) senior center Jewel McCormick, who finished with just three points in the first half. By forcing the rest of the Springs Valley roster to try and pick up the slack, the Jeeps were able to take control of the game, knockdown open shots and earned themselves a 24-20 halftime lead.
The shooting well dried out for the Jeeps in the third quarter, as freshman guard Rhylan Kalb was the lone player that found the bucket. Meanwhile, McCormick started waking up from her slump, scoring the Blackhawks’ last six points of the quarter to give them a 30-27 lead going into the fourth. Sophomore forward Hadley Fuhrman, realizing what was at stake, decided to take matters into her own hands.
“Coach said just go out and be aggressive,” she said. “I wanted to do it for my seniors, put it all out there and hope for the best.”
She started with a 3-pointer and followed up by going 2-for-4 during consecutive trips to the free throw line to shrink the deficit to seven. She then used a putback, a drive and another trip to the foul line to shrink it further to 41-37. McCormick used her final bucket to give the Blackhawks more breathing room, but Fuhrman came right back with a three that closed the gap to 43-40 with just over a minute left. The Jeeps received another break late when they converted a McCormick turnover into a second-chance score for freshman forward Reagan Knies that made it a one-point game with less than 20 seconds left.
Misfortune struck when Fuhrman was called for stepping out of bounds on the walk up the court to take the lead. The Jeeps immediately fouled junior center Shakira Harford, who missed the first free throw on a one-and-one trip and gave the Jeeps one more chance to advance to the sectional final. The last shot from the sophomore forward sailed over the cup and was recovered by senior guard Ellision Burton. Burton drilled her two free throws, and the Blackhawks survived the rally.
Fuhrman had 18 points and eight rebounds. McCormick also finished with 18 along with five rebounds. Harford totaled 11 points and five rebounds.
“We played our hearts out, we played for our seniors,” said Fuhrman. “We did everything coach could’ve asked, we just ended up short.”
Chinn was proud of not just how the Jeeps played Friday night, but also for how they competed and grew throughout the regular season, in spite of the losses the team endured. The Jeeps didn’t let their win-loss record influence their competitive drive, and fought with everything they could until there was no more time to play.
“We never looked at this game like we were the underdogs,” he said. “We look at them like they were our equal, and we had every intention to win that game. It just didn’t bounce our way at the end.”
Chinn is hopeful for the future of the Jeeps. They only graduate two seniors from the team in Madison Cave and Haley Reckelhoff. He said it’s “night and day” comparing where the players started Nov. 5 against Heritage Hills to where they finished on Friday night. He and the rest of the team look forward to getting back to work and continuing the next stage of development together.
“We had two freshmen in there that were playing middle school basketball a year ago,” he said. “We had two sophomores in there. We had the junior class stepping up. People are taking these roles and running with them. It’s so fun to watch kids in an environment where they can succeed.”
“We’ll keep grinding,” added Fuhrman. “Our freshmen helped us out a lot this year, and our whole team will be back except (the) two seniors. We’ll get back to work and have a good season.”
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