CENTER – Stats, averages and metrics all pointed to the girls’ basketball game between North Miami and Taylor Monday night to be a hotly-contested outing.
For 28 minutes that largely held true but the final score said otherwise as the Titans closed the game on a 13-1 roll, seeing off the Warriors 58-42.
North Miami head coach Lori Working said old habits cropped up that shouldn’t be at this part of the year.
“I’ve said this before but with girls’ basketball, you never know who is going to show up to play,” Working said. “We went back to the old North Miami in the third quarter and just didn’t play.
“When you get to this point in the season, you should be making good passes, working the ball, crashing the boards and other things that come naturally because you know what to do. We weren’t hitting from the outside and it was a tough night.”
Taylor started off the game by knocking down back-to-back threes from Emma Good and Alison Pemberton, followed by a Kelsi Langley basket for an 8-0 start.
Langley added two free throws before Hannah Hall hit a three and a free throw, followed by a pair of Maryann Freeman free throws to trim the deficit to 10-6.
Trailing 12-6 after the opening period, Freeman started the second quarter with a three-point play, followed by a basket from Bailey Keim and Taylor Tinney’s sole point of the night to tie the game at 12-12.
Good hit a three at the other end but the Warrior senior trio scored the next eight points while using the press to disrupt the hosts, taking a 20-15 lead.
Freeman scored to end the half, giving the visitors a small 22-19 lead to work with heading into the break.
Keim scored to start the second half but the Titans would score the next six points as Langley and Good scored around two Ashlen Kropczynski free throws to take a 25-24 lead.
After Keim’s next basket, Taylor went on an 11-0 run as Kropczynski hit back-to-back baskets, Good hit a three and a layup and Langley potted two shots at the line.
North Miami went back to the press and trimmed the gap to four at the end of the period behind a Hall three-point play and a layup off a Keim steal.
Free throws from Hall and Keim pulled the Warriors with two points at 38-36 with six minutes to play, only for Good to drain a three at the other end.
Good missed out on a three-point play, though Langley would score off the free throw miss to quickly make it 45-36.
“We came back a little bit on them but whether it was an out-of-bounds play or we went man-to-man, we gave them open looks,” Working said about the fourth quarter. “You can’t do that.
“We told them time and time again at practice to not give up the baseline and they gave up the baseline. Tony is a good coach and coaches them well about using the fake and going to the baseline.
“When you give that up, two things happen: they either score or someone is picking up a foul, so I wouldn’t give up the baseline,” Working added.
Freeman hit a free throw, Keim scored off a steal and Hall added a basket off a Titan turnover to bring the gap down to four at 45-41.
The North Miami press, however, was waning in effectiveness and Taylor shredded it with impunity late on as Good and Langley scored 10 of the final 14 points in the game, giving the Titans a resounding win in the end.
“When we were down 10-0 in the first quarter, we went on a run using the press to get steals and stuff but coming out in the second half, (Taylor head coach Tony Oliver) made adjustments,” Working said when asked about the press. “We changed some things up and did some things different but you have to have that heart every time you come out and we didn’t play with heart.”
Good led all scorers with 22 points while Langley claimed a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Kropczynski chipped in 10 points.
Hall led the Warriors with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Keim had 13 points and nine rebounds and Freeman scored 10 points and snagged 10 boards.
North Miami, now 9-5 on the season, hosts Argos Thursday at 6 p.m. with Working stating that the girls had to bring it if they wanted to play with the Dragons.
“You have to bring you’re A-game,” Working said about playing at this time of the year. “(Elizabeth) Edmonds is a nice player for (Argos), so we have to play smart and stay out of foul trouble because we’re not deep.
“They’ll play tough defense and they’ll get after it. They’ve done a nice job, they have a nice record and we’ve told the girls this was going to be a tough week for us, so we have to be ready to play basketball.”