2nd-half surge sends 'hungry' Raiders to winJanuary 8, 2019
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
DUBOIS — Leading 26-23 late in the third quarter, the Southridge girls basketball team searched for something that would help separate the Raiders from Northeast Dubois for good.
Enter sophomore Kennedy Nalley. The 5-foot-4 guard used her defensive pressure to force back-to-back Northeast Dubois turnovers, which led to easy buckets on the other end for the Raiders. Southridge kept its foot on the gas the remainder of the second half, as the Raiders outscored the Jeeps 30-14 to pull away for a 45-29 win in Dubois.
Nalley didn’t realize how important her two forced turnovers were going to be down the stretch for the Raiders.
“I was just trying to get a steal,” Nalley said with a laugh. “I didn’t really get a chance to guard her in the first half, and I knew she used her right hand all the time. I knew she was weaker with her left, so I just tried to get that.
Southridge head coach Steve Rust said the big plays by Nalley late were “the momentum shift” the Raiders (4-11) needed.
The game started with the Jeeps and Raiders locked in a tight battle. Southridge jumped out to a 9-6 lead in the first quarter, as sophomore guard Monica Steckler scored four quick points and freshman forward Myah Montgomery knocked down a three-pointer.
However, the Jeeps (3-14) closed the lead to 9-8 to end the quarter, as junior guard Madison Cave knocked down two technical free throws after the Raiders were whistled for a player’s jersey number incorrectly listed in the official scorebook.
Northeast Dubois started to get a little breathing room early on in the second quarter, as the Jeeps went on a 7-0 run to take a 15-11 lead, thanks to a three-pointer from Hadley Fuhrman and back-to-back buckets from Cave and Mia Smith.
But the Raiders quickly rallied before the halftime break, as buckets from Steckler and Nalley tied the game at intermission.
“One thing we talked about at halftime was that we had a lot of good looks in the paint, but we had to work on a better [offensive] flow,” Rust said. “We always stress intensity on defense, but once we take it down to the other end of the floor, we need to relax and execute our offense.”
The beginning of the second half didn’t start in the Raiders’ favor, as the Jeeps opened up a three-point lead after Smith made her first three-point shot of the season. But then, things started to open up for Southridge.
The Raiders tied things up on a free throw from Neukam, and then took the lead at the 3:41 mark on a shot from Montgomery. Southridge stretched its lead to seven points later in the quarter on a shot from Neukam, and held a 31-25 lead at the end of the quarter.
“We had a three-point lead at one point in the third quarter, but we had some mental lapses where we made some unforced errors,” Northeast Dubois head coach Andy Chinn said. “They took advantage of that, and you have to give them credit for doing that.”
Southridge put things away for good in the fourth quarter, as the Raiders jumped out to a 41-25 lead in the first few minutes of the final frame when Montgomery, Neukam and Grace Sickbert all got shots to fall. The Jeeps didn’t score until the 3:18 mark in the quarter, and by then it was too late, as the Raiders ended up pulling away for a 45-29 victory.
Monica Steckler and Myah Montgomery both finished with 12 points to lead Southridge, while Mady Neukam added 11 points. Hadley Fuhrman led Northeast Dubois with 14 points, while Mia Smith added seven points.
When he found out he had three players score in double figures in the victory, Rust was ecstatic.
“I haven’t had that much in my three years here (at Southridge), but we’ve already had it happen a couple times this year,” Rust said. “That really opens up our scoring, and it opens up other people for easy baskets, and we saw that start to happen in the second half.”
Steckler added: “It really made their defense have to work on more than one person. It made it much easier to score as a team.”
Southridge, which won its first game since Dec. 6, noticed many similarities in Tuesday night’s victory that the Raiders saw earlier this season in the team’s three-game winning streak.
“Our intensity was good on the defensive side of the ball, and we came into each of those games with a real hunger to win,” Rust said. “What we have to do from this point forward is that we have to always come out with that hunger.”
For Northeast Dubois, the Jeeps are hoping to bounce back after they recorded two straight wins against Boonville and Shoals prior to Tuesday night’s defeat.
“We have to try our best to keep everyone believing that our end goal is still in reach,” Chinn said. “We’re still trying to piece together a four-quarter game, but hopefully in a few weeks we’ll be there.”
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