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Published: 3/2/2003

No. 1 Irish KO'd

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Northview's Niki McCoy scores two of her 12 points against Central Catholic last night. Northview's Niki McCoy scores two of her 12 points against Central Catholic last night.
VOIGT / BLADE Enlarge

Northview had one blemish on its record going into last night's Division I girls district basketball championship and now it is forgotten.

The unranked Wildcats made top-ranked and previously unbeaten Central Catholic their 20th straight victim with a 52-49 victory before a crowd estimated at 2,700 at Perrysburg High School.

Northview (23-1), which lost 62-49 to Central back in December, went ahead early before allowing the Irish to climb back in and eventually take a 45-40 lead with 5:01 left in the game.

But Central's ice-cold 20-of-70 shooting mixed with the Wildcats' patient tenacity enabled Northview to close with a 12-4 surge and capture its second straight district title.

The Wildcats will play Wooster in a regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ashland University.

Brooke Amstutz topped Northview with 18 points and calmly sank two free throws with 16.7 seconds to play for the final margin.

“We worked hard together as a team,” Amstutz said, deflecting credit. “It was not just one person, it was our entire team.

“We respect Central and knew they were good, but we just worked even harder to beat them because they were so good. No one ranked us in the polls but that's OK because we still know we're good.”

With leading scorer Kelly Helvey (16 points) fouling out to send Amstutz to the line for those crucial tosses, Central's chief 3-point threat was gone. Trey attempts from Sonya Coleman (11 points) and Corri Helldobler in the closing seconds failed to go in.

That was the theme for the 23-1 Irish, whose starting backcourt of Helvey, Coleman and Helldobler shot a combined 13-for-47.

“When you're not knocking down shots, you're not going to win,” Central coach Steve Pfahler said. “They did. They hit 'em. We got into a good rhythm [in the third quarter] but then we just continued to bomb away and we were never patient enough in our offense. They did a great job defensively limiting us to the kind of shots we got.”

Some of those shooting woes certainly were attributed to the Northview defense.

“We knew if we held our composure that we'd be able to play with them, and we did,” Northview coach Jerry Sigler said. “We wanted to make sure that every shot they took was contested. We didn't do a great job on the boards. If we did it might've been a bigger margin.”

Offensively, the Wildcats managed a respectable 21-of-46 from the field, while also outrebounding the Irish 41-40. This enabled Northview to overcome 19 turnovers while forcing just nine.

Ahead 15-13 after one quarter, Northview used a 9-2 run to open the second to take a 24-15 lead on a Julia Dempster drive with 2:03 left in the half.

But Helvey, who had gone to the bench earlier in the quarter after committing her second foul, returned to help rally her team before the break.

Central finally pulled even on a Helvey trey at 5:24 of the third quarter, and went ahead 35-34 on another 3-pointer from Helvey with 48 seconds left in the period.

After the Irish took their 45-40 lead, Northview's Niki McCoy scored from inside, Nikki Cooper converted a three-point play and Amstutz scored for a 47-45 lead with 3:26 remaining.



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