TROY — The season came to a sudden end for the Northmont girls basketball team after a 61-44 loss Saturday to Springboro in the opening round of the sectional tournament.
It was the Lady Bolts third loss to the Lady Panther who scored victories of 54-28 and 54-41 over Northmont during regular season play.
The Lady Bolts turned the ball over too many times and shot a dismal 5-11 from the free throw line. Amari Bradford led Northmont with 20 points including a trio of 3-point field goals while Kaitlyn McCrary posted 13 points before fouling out with 3:26 remaining.
Springboro exhibited crisp ball handling skills and distributed the ball well with eight players contributing points. Peyton Nation led the Lady Panthers with 16 and Jordan Hobbs had 15 to pace the attack.
The Lady Panthers took a 5-0 lead and led 20-9 late in the first quarter. Bradford scored to cut the deficit to nine entering the second period.
McCrary scored the first basket of the second quarter and then came up with a steal for a layup. Bradford knocked down a shot to cut the gap to 22-18 with 3:55 left in the first half.
Springboro went on a 9-0 run to hold a 31-23 lead at halftime.
All of Northmont’s scrappy and determined play evaporated in the third quarter. The Lady Bolts failed to score a single point as Springboro opened up a 44-23 lead entering the final quarter, effectively putting the game out of reach.
“We went zone in the third, they missed some shots and some free throws and it took us a while to get started in the third quarter offensively,” said Springboro coach Tom Benjamin. “Obviously, if you get a head start like we did that quarter you get the chance to pull away and we did. That’s a good thing.”
Springboro caught Northmont flat footed to open the fourth quarter. All five players set up in Northmont’s half of the court while Hobbs broke to center court, took the inbounds pass and raced uncontested for a layup.
Aside from the disastrous third quarter Northmont’s defensive strategy caused the Lady Panthers some headaches.
“They gimmicked us a little bit,” Benjamin noted. “They played some triangle and two, some box and one and some zone. I thought we got to the free throw line some in the second half in the second part of the third and fourth quarters and that is always good.”
Springboro knocked down 16 of 18 from the foul line, but it was Hobbs and Nation that got the team off to a quick start scoring nine and seven points respectively.
“We made some shots in the first half and scoring 31 in the first half is a good total for us,” Benjamin added. “We have to find more people that score, that’s what we have to do. We have two people that have been our primary scorers and we have to find a couple more people that can get us some points.”
A total of eight Lady Panthers scored in the victory as Springboro improved to 18-5 overall. The Lady Panthers advance to face Vandalia-Butler (16-7) on Thursday at Troy High School at 7:30 p.m.
Northmont concludes its 2019-2020 campaign with an overall record of 7-16.
NMT 11 23 23 44 – 44
SprB 20 31 44 61 – 61
Northmont: Kaitlyn McCrary 5-1-13, Amari Bradford 8-1-20, Dasia Turner 1-1-3, Gabby Kline 2-0-4, Ashley Besingi 1-2-4. Totals: 16-5-44.
Springboro: Haley Crozier 2-0-5, Jordan Hobbs 6-2-15, Olivia Majors 0-7-7, Peyton Nation 6-3-16, Peyton Wells 1-2-4, McKel Nation 2-0-4, Julia Secrist 2-4-8, Jenna Daniel 1-0-2. Totals: 20-16-61.
Three-point field goals: Northmont 5 (Bradford 3, McCrary 2); Springboro 3 (Crozier, Hobbs, P. Nation).
Records: Northmont 7-16, Springboro 18-5.
Reach Ron Nunnari at (937) 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @RonNunnari