Northview's Miriam Justinger gets past Central Catholic's Michelle Murnen in the third quarter of the Wildcats' district semifinal victory. Justinger led the Wildcats with 19 points.
Central Catholic had Northview right where it wanted it when the Irish's Sydney Delp and Jamie Sob-czak knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter of a Division I district semifinal Thursday night at Northwood.
Central owned a five-point lead at that stage of the game while snatching control of the momentum to start the final quarter.
However, maintaining the lead over the Wildcats wasn't easy, and Northview rallied back in a seesaw contest to escape with a 68-64 victory over Central.
The Wildcats, paced by Miriam Justinger's team-high 19 points, went on an 8-2 run late in the game to pull away from an Irish team that kept pace by nailing eight 3-pointers on the night.
"It was a great high school game," Northview coach Jerry Sigler said. "It's what you want to see at this level. We're just happy and fortunate to be moving on."
Northview will play Notre Dame Academy on Saturday in a district final at Perrysburg.
Justinger led a pretty balanced attack for Northview (21-1).
Kendall McCoy, a six-foot freshman, helped Northview's cause by pouring in 15 points, including 10 in the second half, despite picking up three fouls before halftime.
Maddie Fries, a 5-4 freshman, came off the bench and scored 10 points after senior starter Skylar Rose left the game early in the second quarter with a knee injury. Rose had scored nine points before suffering the injury while fighting for a loose ball.
Jessica Jessing made the most of her 6-3 frame near the basket, grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with nine points.
Yet, Sigler credits Fries, the smallest player on the roster, with making the biggest impact in the game.
"Maddie Fries came in for us and probably won the ballgame for us," Sigler said. "She hit some big shots and played some great defense."
The Irish, who lost to Northview by nine points back in January, made it obvious they came ready to play and were believing anything was possible against the Wildcats the second time around this season.
Northview's Maddie Cole (44) battles for a loose ball with Central Catholic's Michelle Murnen (33) and Sydni Harmon. Northview is now 21-1 on the season, while the Irish finish the year at 13-9.
Sobczak led the confident bunch by scoring a game-high 24 points, including three 3-pointers. Deonna Murdock pumped in 17 points and also made it difficult for Northview on defense.
However, the Irish couldn't close out the final quarter quite like the way they opened it to take the lead for good.
"I was real proud of our kids," Central coach Marty McGurk said. "They did everything we asked them to do. They fought, played hard and battled the whole time. We talked about playing hard and playing smart and they did.
"I'm just so proud of our kids. They came up just a little bit short."
Central (13-9) led by as many as five points during the second quarter before Northview put together a run of its own to regain the lead before eventually taking a 34-32 lead into halftime after Jessing put back her own miss during the final seconds of the first half.
It was clear by halftime that neither team would back down in a game that would result in the end of the season for one team.
With Rose not able to return to the court the Wildcats made it their mission to pull together in the second half and do whatever was necessary to help make up for Rose's absence.
"I'm really proud that we had some people step up tonight because that's exactly what we needed," said Jessing, who grabbed nine boards after halftime. "We weren't prepared for [Rose's injury], but we had people step up to the plate, and I was really proud of them."
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.