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Published: Sunday, 2/20/2005

Northview, St. Ursula prevail in sectional finals

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
St. Ursula's Joan Anderson knocks the ball away from Southview's Mandi Lisk in last night's sectional championship. St. Ursula's Joan Anderson knocks the ball away from Southview's Mandi Lisk in last night's sectional championship.
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Three-time defending district champion Northview was one second from being eliminated from this year's Division I girls basketball tournament.

But that one second was enough for 6-3 junior forward Riana Miller to hit a short bank shot from the left block off a rebound, forcing overtime, and ultimately paving the way for a 59-53 Wildcat victory against upset-minded Start in a sectional final last night at Central Catholic's Sullivan Center.

The win advanced Northview (21-1) to Thursday's district semifinal here against St. Ursula Academy. The Arrows (14-7) moved on with a 71-56 win over Southview in last night's first sectional final here.

"I knew that we were going to leave it all on the floor," Northview coach Jerry Sigler said. "I didn't know if we were going to win or we were going to lose.

"The challenge was put to them that maybe they weren't as good as people thought they were and maybe they were going to get knocked off. Maybe we'll get knocked off the next game, who knows? But I know one thing, it'll be left out on the floor. We will not quit."

After Wildcat senior Niki McCoy tied the score 44-44 with

3:09 remaining, the Spartans responded with two baskets from 5-11 senior forward Sandi Brown at the 2:28 and 0:39 marks, giving Start a 48-44 edge.

Before fouling out with 14.3 seconds left with just six points, far below her average, McCoy pulled the Cats within two points on a layup with 25 seconds left in regulation.

After Start's Lisa Hickman was tied up for turnover by Northview's Danielle Bly with 12.5 seconds to go in the fourth, the Wildcats had one last chance to force overtime or win.

Make that three last chances.

Lisa Johnson, who topped Northview with 18 points and 12 rebounds, missed from the lane. Bly then missed on a putback try, but Miller (16 points) converted the second rebound.

"It's about time she makes one of those," Sigler said of Miller. "She missed enough inside tonight. But she's a young kid, and young kids make mistakes. We were fortunate."

In overtime, after Start's Keaira Marsenburg put her team up with a pair of free throws, Bly scored her first points on a clutch 3-pointer from the right corner 1:10 into the four-minute extra period for a 51-50 lead.

Johnson then made it a three-point edge on an eight-footer from the right baseline with 2:11 left, and Northview closed out the victory by hitting both ends of three bonus chances at the line, one each from Jen Yark, Ali Wallace and Bly.

"That's outstanding," Sigler said of the foul-line success. "We spent a lot of time today shooting foul shots, this morning and before we came here. We knew that foul shots were going to be a big part of the game. They always are in tight ballgames like this."

Brown topped Start with 17 points and Candice Coleman added 14 for the Spartans.

St. Ursula didn't get a chance to play in the City League girls basketball playoffs, but the Arrows are making the most of their tournament trek so far.

Bolstered by some red-hot shooting, especially after halftime, the Arrows (14-7) pulled away from Southview for their 71-56 sectional final victory.

St. Ursula hit 28 of 48 shots (58 percent) from the field in the game, including a 15-of-22 effort (68 percent) after the break to pull from a slim 33-30 halftime edge against the Cougars (17-4).

Southview, which had a first-round bye, stayed close until early in the third quarter, thanks in large part to the perimeter shooting of backup guard Jackie Freesen. Freesen had 13 of her team-high 19 points in the opening half, and was 5-of-6 from 3-point range for the game.

But St. Ursula, using an up-tempo pace offensively, connected on nine of its 14 third-quarter shots, then hit its first six from the field to start the fourth.

When Allison Florian scored in transition with 5:25 left in the game, that basket was the Arrows' eighth in a row without a miss and capped a game-breaking 19-7 run.

"We wanted an up-tempo game and we thought if we got them running a little bit and we could get 'em at our pace, we were a little quicker than they were," Arrows coach Tony Donofrio said. "We knew we had to hit some outside shots. They were going to try to take [Allison] Florian away inside, because they did it the first game [regular-season loss to Southview]. We were able to hit some big shots at some critical times, and that was to our advantage for sure."

Florian topped SUA with 21 points and nine rebounds, guard Jenna Blosser had 14 points, and Joan Anderson added 13.

"We're playing really well right now," Donofrio said. "What some people don't understand is that we were really hurt for a few games. Alli Florian and Joan Anderson were out for a few games at the end of the year. We're 14-7 and four of those losses were by [a total of] nine points."

"We're healthy right now and we believe we're a pretty good basketball team."

Liz Tansey contributed 13 points for the Cougars, who were 21-of-53 from the field, 8-of-12 from the line and outrebounded the Arrows 34-26. Southview committed 17 turnovers while forcing 10.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com or 419-724-6461.



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