From the time unbeaten Northview forged a 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter in its girls basketball matchup last night at Clay, there was little drama in this game until the very end.
That s when the Wildcats (14-0) - ranked 10th in the Division I state poll, put the finishing touches on a 59-34 win to make Jerry Sigler just the fourth coach in Ohio high school girls basketball history to record 500 victories.
To chants of “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry,” Sigler finally wiped off his intense game face and acknowledged the visitors half of the crowd behind him with a wave, a nod and a smile.
“It s just a phenomenal accomplishment and I m excited,” said Sigler, 500-131 in his 28th season with the Wildcats. “There s just so many things that all had to come into place for this. So many great players, so many great [assistant] coaches with me, and so much support from our fans and our parents.
“It s a combination of everything, and the fact that I ve been able to stay there long enough and continue to be enthusiastic with the game. I think that s a big part of it.”
Northview, which returned all five starters for this season from a 24-2 team that reached the D-I regional finals last year, now looks to cap a Northern Lakes League title with a 20-0 regular season.
Senior guard Nikki Smith, daughter of Whitmer football coach Bruce Smith, broke out of a recent individual slump to lead Northview with 17 points. She will have played more games than any Wildcat Sigler has coached by season s end.
“It s so thrilling because I know how much time and effort he puts into it,” Smith said. “Coming from a coach s daughter, I know the hours he has to put in. He deserves it. In my four years, he s never been outcoached by anyone.
“Even though we [she and Sigler] battle with each other, that s because our personalities clash a little bit. But I will always tell him how good of a coach he is. It s a privilege to be a part of this milestone.”
The Wildcats, who led 14-3 after one quarter and 29-14 at halftime, also got 13 points from senior guard Brooke Amstutz, and nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds from junior forward Julia Dempster.
“It s a great accomplishment,” Clay coach Roger Achter said. “It proves two things: he s had some outstanding players and he s an outstanding coach. That s a great accomplishment. Heck, I hope I can stick around that long.”
Northview s triumph gained some revenge for the Cats, who were beaten the last time they played at Clay early in the 2001-02 season.
Northview was 21-of-48 from the field, including 6-of-16 from 3-point range. The Wildcats outrebounded Clay 36-26, and forced 22 turnovers while committing 20. The Eagles (11-4) were 13-of-40 from the field.
Senior guard Kate Achter, the City League s leading scorer at 25.1 points per game, was limited to 11 points.
“People say Don t think about it, but up until this game it was always in the back of our minds,” Smith said of the milestone. “We didn t want to let him down. Clay is really good team and Kate is an awesome player. Now ... we can focus on making our ultimate goal, which is to go 20-0.”