Northview didn't enter the season as the odds-on favorite to win the Northern Lakes League girls basketball championship.
But the Wildcats continue to roll through NLL opponents toward an inevitable league title, including last night's 65-51 victory over Perrysburg at home.
Nikki Smith led Northview with a game-high 21 points while Julie Dempster produced one of her best offensive efforts of the season, scoring 10 of her 15 points in the first half. Brooke Amstutz contributed 12 points and Niki McCoy nine.
The Wildcats, 16-1 overall and 11-0 in the NLL, are a league win away from at least a share of the championship with three games remaining. They led 31-20 by the end of the first half and never looked back.
“They played hard,” Northview coach Jerry Sigler said. “I can't ask for any more effort from them.
“Dempster really stepped it up tonight. Nikki Cooper played great defense and, well, Nikki Smith was her usual self.”
Perrysburg, which slipped to 14-3 overall and 9-2 in the league, could have pulled to a tie with Northview with a win over the only team that had defeated the Yellow Jackets in league play. Allison Vallas paced Perrysburg with 18 points, Laura Markwood added 12 and Jenny Langevin eight.
Markwood, Perrysburg's best inside scoring threat, was limited to three field goals.
“Northview is very good,” Perrysburg coach Mark Schrock said. “They came with their best game tonight. We were a little overwhelmed for a while. They're a very good defensive team.”
The Wildcats made that apparent during the opening moments of the third quarter. Owning an 11-point lead at the half, the Wildcats started the second half by scoring the first eight points to increase their lead to 39-20. Dempster scored the first basket of the half before Cooper and Smith followed with consecutive 3-point baskets.
The Wildcats made it clear that they weren't going to allow the Yellow Jackets to creep back into the game, and increased their lead to as many as 25 in the second half.
“That was the last thing that we talked about at halftime before we came back out because we've had a tendency to fall asleep whenever we have a big lead,” Sigler said.
Sigler said Dempster's play against Markwood really impressed him considering his 5-11 junior forward was involved in an automobile accident earlier in the day. Dempster, a state finalist in track, showed she was ready and able to play.
“I didn't even know she was going to be able to play since she was involved in a car accident and missed the early morning shoot-around,” Sigler said. “She's really a very good athlete. I thought she was able to do a lot of things for us tonight because of her quickness.”
Schrock said the game plan going in was to try and limit the Wildcats' scoring opportunities. More specifically, limit Smith's supporting cast.
“We were hoping they'd have an off shooting night,” Schrock said. “But it wasn't just Nikki Smith that scored. She got hers and they also were able to get some scoring from others.”
Northview takes on Anthony Wayne tomorrow night and a win for the Wildcats would clinch at least a share of the NLL championship.