NAPPANEE — With 0.8 seconds left and the Black Swish down three points, junior Morgan Olson pulled down Penn’s missed free throw and immediately called timeout. On the inbounds play needing to go the full length of the court Olson threw the ball just pass half-court to senior Savannah Bley. Bley turned and heaved the ball toward the basket.
The ball hit the rim, bounced off the backboard and onto the floor as the buzzer sounded.
An exciting finish to a strong game, Penn held off NorthWood for the 39-36 win last Tuesday at the Panther Pit. Constant lead changes with neither team having more than a seven-point lead at anytime during the game ended up being just as good a contest as everyone anticipated it would be.
NorthWood started quickly with a nice high-low game between Bley and Olson. This led to some quick foul trouble for the Lady Kingsmen; however NorthWood couldn’t capitalize going 3-7 from the foul line in the first quarter. Penn led 13-10 after one period with the help of a 3-6 effort from behind the three point line.
Sophomore Jordyn Frantz showed her defensive skills by stopping penetration and blocking three shots in the first quarter alone. The Black Swish came out with a 9-2 run to start the second quarter. Frantz lead the charge with four points and two assists during the run. Penn called a timeout with 2:29 left in the first half and NorthWood leading 19-15.
Coming out of the timeout the teams traded baskets. With 40 seconds left in the half Olson grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup on the other end, giving the Black Swish their largest lead of the night. Olson finished the half with 10 points and Bley with 9.
Penn bounced right back hitting a shot at the buzzer to cut NorthWood’s lead to 23-18 at halftime. Penn ended the second quarter 0-5 from three point land.
Penn came out in the second half packing in their defense to try and stop the combinations of Olson and Bley. They were daring someone on the Black Swish other than the two bigs to beat them. Four-and-half minutes into the second half NorthWood was still looking for its first points. Penn’s Jennifer Mater hit a three-pointer to give Penn the lead at 25-23.
“I didn’t think we came out real aggressive the third quarter,” said head coach Steve Neff after the game. “We can’t do that against good teams. We’ve got to stay aggressive especially when we had the lead at halftime. We wanted to build on that and didn’t.”
After a NorthWood timeout the Black Swish come out with five quick points to regain the lead. They were unable to hold onto the lead as Penn was 4-5 from three-point range in the third quarter, and ended with the 35-31 lead.
In the final quarter Penn ran their offense and only taking the most open shots. With the lead they wanted to shorten the game as much as possible.
“We will work on our endurance and work on more balanced scoring,” said Neff. Frantz hit a three from the top of the key to spark life back into the Black Swish.
Coming down the stretch Penn missed three consecutive one and one opportunities giving just enough life to NorthWood. With less than a minute to go NorthWood called timeout trailing 39-36. They were able to get an open three-point attempt out of the timeout, but it came up short.
“We actually ran the play,” Neff said. “If Jordyn (Frantz) wasn’t going to get it then Maddie (Swartz) was going to get it in the corner. We got a wide open three. We just didn’t knock it down.”
“They’re (Penn) a quality state team,” Neff said about playing a quality team early. “We wanted to win, but this team has to focus in on their own identity. I think that helped a little bit tonight. We want to be playing well when sectional time comes around.”
Penn hit just enough three-pointers to pull out the win. NorthWood will look back at the free throw line, going 9-16, at their missed opportunities. NorthWood, now 3-1, will host Elkhart Memorial Dec. 7 starting at 7:30 p.m.
• Penn 39, NorthWood 36
PENN — Taylor Lutz 4 0-1 11, Jennifer Mater 2 0-1 5, Maya Solomon 0 0-0 0, Jessica Alexander 2 0-0 4, Kathryn Knutson 0 0-0 0, Olivia Carlton 4 0-0 11, Camryn Buhr 0 3-4 3, Kaitlyn Marenyi 0 0-0 0, Claire Carlton 2 1-2 5
NORTHWOOD — Maddie Schwartz 0 0-0 0, Jordyn Frantz 2 2-4 7, Savannah Bley 4 5-10 13, Inger Yoder 0 0-0 0, Taylor Fielstra 0 0-0 0, Taylor Stutzman 0 0-0 0, Morgan Olson 7 2-2 16
Scoring by Quarters
Penn 13 5 17 4 — 39
NorthWood 10 13 8 5 — 36
3-point goals: Penn 7-15 (Lutz 3-4, Carlton 3-7, Mater 1-2, Knutson 0-1, Marenyi 0-1). NorthWood 1-4 (Frantz 1-1, Bley 0-1, Schwartz 0-2).
Fouls: Penn 14, NorthWood 14.
Rebounds: Penn 23 (Buhr 6, Alexander 4, Lutz 4). NorthWood 28 (Olson 10, Frantz 8, Bley 7).
Assists: NorthWood 8 (Fielstra 2).
Steals: NorthWood 4 (Frantz 3).
Turnovers: Penn 7, NorthWood 12.
JV score: Penn won 51-15. (NorthWood: Haley Roe 9, Ashley Yoder 6)