Riana Miller could barely wait for the tip-off of last night's Northern Lakes League rematch between Northview and Southview.
Northview's 6-3 junior had the second date with Southview circled on the calendar. The first time the two teams met Miller played her worst game of the season, finishing with three points.
Miller redeemed herself in a major way by scoring a game-high 18 points and grabbing a dozen boards along the way to lead Northview to a 58-53 victory at home.
"The last time we played Southview I played really bad, so I knew I had to step up," said Miller, who also blocked a couple of shots and altered a few others.
Miller had plenty of company in turning back a gritty Southview team that erased a 13-point deficit in the second half to make the Wildcats (13-1, 9-0) nervous down the stretch.
Lisa Johnson came through with 15 points, including 13 after halftime. Niki McCoy, who owns a team-best average of 17 points per game, provided 14 as Northview was limited to seven players because of injuries.
"We knew we had to play hard against them," Miller said. "Then we got kind of relaxed at the end and let them come back."
McCoy wasn't completely caught off-guard by Southview's effort.
"You can never underestimate them because they're a good team," McCoy said.
"I think our team kept playing hard. We made a few mistakes, but we never gave up playing."
Southview was outscored 20-10 in the decisive third quarter. The Cougars (11-3, 7-2) played catch-up for the final eight minutes. Mandi Lisk paced the Cougars with 15 points, Jessica Hausfeld had 11 and Bahiyjaui Allen came off the bench for 10.
"It's like that in every game where we have a two to three-minute lull," said Southview coach Todd Bostater.
"Having been in that situation before, we told our kids at the end of the third quarter, 'Don't quit and don't give up.' We started to attack the basket more because we had nothing to lose."
The Cougars' full-court pressure during the fourth quarter led to nine Wildcats turnovers. Southview outscored Northview 27-19 in the last quarter, and came within a 3-point basket of tying the score during the final seconds.
But Lisk missed a 3-pointer 9.6 seconds remaining. Johnson, who rebounded Lisk's misfire, secured the win with a pair of foul shots. The Wildcats made 15 of 20 free throws compared with 3 of 13 for the Cougars.
Watching the double-digit lead shrink in the final quarter was a case of dj vu for Northview coach Jerry Sigler. The Wildcats blew a similar advantage and barely escaped with an overtime win in their first meeting this season.
"It was pretty much the same way the last game," Sigler said. "We played in the fourth quarter not to lose and they played to win.
"We did some poor coaching in the last four minutes of the game. I was tentative tonight about making adjustments."
NOTE: Longtime Northview athletic director Larry Jones, who plans to retire in June after 39 years of working in Sylvania Schools, was honored at halftime. Today was officially declared Larry Jones Day in Sylvania.
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