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North Miami hangs on late to beat Caston

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FOUNDATION: North Miami’s Maryann Freeman (21) posted a double-double of the highest importancein Tuesday night’s non-conference girls’ basketball game against Caston. Freeman scored 20 points and pulled down 17 boards, 15 on the offensive end, including an offensive rebound and three-point play with four seconds to play to secure the Warriors’ 59-56 win over the Comets.
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MIRROR: North Miami’s Taylor Tinney (C) tries to trap opposite number Brianna Hubenthal (R) along the baseline during Tuesday night’s game against Caston. Tinney would force a turnover on a later trap by drawing a charge but struggled on the other end of the floor, only scoring eight points in the 59-56 win.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

 

There are double-doubles and then there are double-doubles where every point and rebound mattered in the outcome. 

The last of Maryann Freeman’s 20 points and 17 rebounds were enough to get North Miami over the line against Caston Tuesday night as the Warriors, despite shooting 21-of-83 from the floor, eked past the Comets 59-56. 

Despite another close-run outing, North Miami head coach Lori Working said the team continued to find ways to win. 

“We told the girls we’ve played a lot of close games and down the road, this will help them,” Working said. “It’s making them grow as players and me as a coach. 

“We got to the locker room and the girls were down because they felt the game should have been a bigger spread but they keep finding ways to win at the end. Hitting free throws was huge tonight, something we’ve been emphasizing.” 

Coming off an overtime win over Whitko on Saturday, the hosts sprinted out of the gates with Taylor Tinney hitting a jumper, Hannah Hall knocking down a three and Freeman landing a three-point play for an 8-0 lead. 

The advantage, however, slowly evaporated as the quarter went on and vanished when Jordan Clingler hit from close range to tie the game at 9-9 with two minutes left in the period. 

Just as quickly as the start, however, North Miami scored nine unanswered to close the quarter as Freeman connected off an offensive rebound, Hall scored off a steal, Freeman added another basket from inside and Bailey Keim hit a three at the horn for an 18-9 finish. 

In response to Freeman’s work in the post, the Comets switched from a 2-3 zone to a compact variation, sitting three players in the paint and using the other two to keep the ball pinned to one side of the court.

 Caston dared the hosts to beat them with midrange shooting and North Miami struggled to do so. 

The lead slowly evaporated as the Warriors only scored a single basket in the period while Emily Holt steadily helped the Comets close the gap, scoring nine points in the period to bring the visitors to within two at halftime 25-23. 

Working said the zone was a new look for the players and reinforced one of the objectives the team worked through during practices.

 “A lot of times, Bailey, Hannah and Maryann are attacking the basket and coach (Don Helmick) did a good job of forcing us to hit outside shots,” Working noted. “Normally, Bailey, Hannah and Taylor can hit those shots. 

“We went from Whitko’s man-to-man to seeing zone almost the whole time. We work on variations in practice because while you don’t know what another team will throw out, you still have to win on the boards, at the free throw line and execute on offense.” 

Hall opened the second half with a jumper but baskets from Sophie Jellison and Clingler tied the game at 27-27. 

North Miami would not give up the lead and used another late burst keyed by a Freeman three-point play, a three from Keim, a jumper from Tinney and a steal and layup from Keim to take a 42-33 lead into the final quarter of play. 

Freeman hit two free throws to start the fourth quarter but six-straight from Caston trimmed the gap to five at 44-39. 

Two putbacks from Freeman increased the lead to nine but a three-point play by Holt and baskets from Brianna Hubenthal and Aubrey Dague around a Tinney jumper shrank the gap to four at 50-46. 

Keim knocked down two free throws before Holt answered on the other end.

Tinney connected on a long two to restore a six-point cushion but Jellison pulled down an offensive rebound following a timeout, hitting both free throws to make the score 54-40. 

On the inbounds, Keim broke off her intended route and Hall hit her in stride for a layup yet Hubenthal answered with a three to cut the score to 56-53 and Dague nearly pinched a steal, only to be out of bounds. 

“That wasn’t the play we had drawn up,” Working said about Keim’s layup. “That’s where the coaching back in junior high and fundamentals got us. 

“Bailey recognized what was going on and did it on her own. Hannah read it and made the throw.” 

Tinney was fouled on the other end, missing both free throws, but three offensive rebounds were secured by the Warriors before Freeman finally connected for a three-point play with four seconds left to secure the win despite Hubenthal’s three at the buzzer. 

Working was pleased to see the team close things out late, adding the experience would be important in future crunch situations. 

“This is character building because the girls learn more from this than they do a blowout,” Working pointed out. “This makes the girls think and will help the girls down the line. 

“We haven’t blown anyone away and have had to work hard for wins. Each kid has to be able to do good things for us and in the last quarter, when the pressure was on, they did that.” 

North Miami begins a three-game conference run over seven days, starting with Tippecanoe Valley on Friday. 

Working said the team understood they were going to be playing a good team with a strong scorer in Sophie Bussard but needed to get after it from the opening tip. 

“(Bussard) is going to get her points because she’s a good shooter,” Working said. “(Tippecanoe Valley head coach Chris Kindig) always has his girls prepared. 

“We have to get the girls fired up because that game is huge. It’s our second TRC game and we have to play smart.”