Posted: Friday, December 4, 2015 12:29 am | Updated: 12:33 am, Fri Dec 4, 2015.
By AARON KENNEDY firstname.lastname@example.org
ROSSVILLE – The Rossville girls’ basketball team battled back from a 7-point deficit to regain the lead late in Thursday night’s home game, but a clutch 3-poniter made by Maci Heimlich snapped the Hornets’ eight-point run with 21.5 seconds left to play.
Heimlich’s deep shot, which was contested by two Hornets, proved to be the game-winner, as Rossville went on to lose 44-41 to the Vikings.
“It was a hard fought game,” Rossville head coach Chad Geheb said. “We knew North White was going to be good coming in. They were 5-1 coming in and won 16 games and a sectional last year. Most of their team is back this year. We thought coming in that we could battle, compete and get a win.
“Our effort was great,” Geheb added. “We battled and competed, and I am proud of my kids.”
The Hornets had a chance to tie or extend the game, but the first trip ended in a turnover. With Rossville forced to foul, Heimlich made one of two foul shots to extend the Vikings’ lead to three points with 4.6 seconds left, and a last-second, desperate shot from well beyond the arc by Maggie Deboy bounced off the rim, ending any hopes of playing an extra period.
After the lead changed hands five times and the two teams tied four times through the first three quarters, Rossville held a 33-26 lead at the end of the third.
Held in check for much of the game, North White junior forward Audrey Minix stepped up big for the Vikings, scoring the first nine points of the fourth quarter before Heimlich capped the 11-point run with a 3-pointer.
Despite being held scoreless for about five minutes and 20 seconds, the Hornets responded with a run of their own. Senior Taylor Zink got Rossville back on the scoreboard with a free throw. Zink then stole the ball away on the ensuing North White possession and was fouled trying to lay the ball in on the other end. She made both shots this time, and then Deboy was fouled while scoring. The sophomore point guard for the Hornets converted the old-fashioned 3-point play and was later fouled trying to score after pulling down an offensive rebound. She made both attempts from the line, and the Hornets led 41-40 with 1:28 left on the clock.
Heimlich and Minix did almost all the damage for the Vikings, combining for 39 of North White’s 44 points. Heimlich hit seven 3-pointers in the game, and the Vikings made more shots from perimeter (8) than inside of the arc (6). When the Hornets appeared to be ending the opening quarter with an 11-9 lead, Heimlich sprinted down the court and hefted a deep shot at the buzzer that found its mark. She made another one of her 3-pointers with just three minutes left in the second period. Without it, the Hornets would have taken a 23-15 lead into the half.
“We knew Minix and Heimlich were good players,” Geheb said. “They made some shots. The end of the first quarter was a tough one and then the bank-in at the end of the game to take the lead. But, she is a good player. I believe that you make your own luck. If you play hard, you get breaks once in a while.
“Defensively, I thought we did a really nice job,” he added. “It doesn’t seem like it when their two best players got 24 and 15, but I thought our kids played hard. What we were trying to do we did pretty well in the half court with the exception of maybe rebounding. We knew that rebounding would be difficult. Minix is really good on the boards for North White. In the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, that really hurt us. She got some offensive rebounds, put-backs and got to the line. She was 5-of-5 at the line.”
Minix scored nine of her 15 in the fourth quarter.
After starting the season with three straight wins, the Hornets had the last two get away from them in the fourth quarter.
“Those are two close games where we were right there in the fourth quarter and let it slip out of our hands,” Geheb said. “That is something that we will have to learn from and get better at. Hopefully, we start to see some different outcomes in the future.”
Deboy finished with a double-double in the loss, scoring 10 points and pulling down a team-high 10 rebounds. Keely Criswell also finished with 10 points, while Julia Malson added seven points and nine rebounds, and Zink finished with seven points and two steals.
VIKINGS 44, HORNETS 41
Irey 1 0-0 2, Minix 4 7-9 15, Heimlich 8 1-4 24, Maple 1 0-0 3, Ball 0 0-2 0. Totals – 14 8-15 44.
Criswell 5 0-0 10, Malson 1 5-6 7, Zink 2 3-4 7, Roberts 1 0-0 2, Deboy 3 4-5 10, Heath 2 0-0 5. Totals – 14 12-15 41.
North White 12 6 8 18 – 44
Rossville 11 12 10 8 – 41
3-Point Goals – North White 8 (Heimlich 7, Maple), Rossville 1 (Heath). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – North White 28, Rossville 34 (Deboy 10). Total fouls – North White 15, Rossville 14.