Jordan Niles and Abbi Molner took turns putting the scoring on their backs in the first half. Niles opened the game with seven straight points, hitting a two-point field goal, a three-pointer, and a pair of free throws. Mount Everett was able to get a four-point advantage, but the Wildcats’ Christina Moore brought her team within two at the end of the first quarter, 13-11.
Niles stole the second quarter-opening inbound pass and was able to dish it to Sammy Cunningham-Darrah who drained a three-ball to put Twin Valley ahead 14-13. Molner kicked her scoring into high gear in the second quarter, with seven points. The Eagles switched to a full-court press and began to force Wildcat turnovers and wear down Twin Valley’s offensive production. But the Wildcats did what they have struggled to do this season and stayed in the game when the going got tough. Molner kept her team in the lead, scoring with 1:15 left to keep Twin Valley ahead 22-21. Molner also hit a buzzer-beater at the half to put the Wildcats up by their biggest lead yet, 26-22.
The third quarter showed resiliency by the Wildcats, with Coach Buddy Hayford using his timeouts liberally to keep his girls on track. Mount Everett went on a 7-0 run to open the third, including a big three-pointer from freshman guard Parker Snyder. “We were getting beat in transition,” said Hayford. “ We were also taking ill-advised shots, and those timeouts were necessary to get the point across.”
Twin Valley finally scored at the 3:50 mark when Moore scored off an offensive rebound. Twin Valley refused to let the game slip away to a team that defeated them by 15 only a month before, and down 33-31 with time winding down in the quarter, Molner hit her second buzzer-beater of the game, tying the game at 33.
The fourth quarter was a battle. Back and forth scoring for eight minutes left both teams bent but not broken. Twin Valley, however, gained the edge through offensive rebounding. Hannah Swanson recorded 21 rebounds on the night, with key boards coming in the quarter, allowing the Wildcats to run the clock and get to the free-throw line. Swanson’s 21 were more than the entire Mount Everett team, which had 19.
Mount Everett would stay in the game, but recorded penalty after penalty. The Wildcats could not make a free throw in the fourth and were 10 of 28 on the night. Hannah Herrick got Mount Everett within four with a minute to go, but Niles was there to seal the game with two free throws and the win, 45-40.
“It was a great win for them,” said Hayford. “It’s the second straight where we won in the fourth. The game before, we were down to Bellows Falls by four in the fourth quarter and won, and in this game we got contributions from every player on both ends of the court.”
Twin Valley was able to keep Deseraye Conaway and Brooke Morehouse quiet on the night, after last month when they shredded the Wildcats with a combined eight three-pointers. Both fouled out in the fourth with five and nine points respectively.
Molner led the Wildcats with 11 points, eight rebounds, and five steals. Niles had 11 points. Hannah Joyce led the Eagles with 10 points.
L&G 48, TV 46
WILMINGTON- Tuesday night the Wildcat girls played Leland & Gray. As one might expect, the house was packed, the fans were loud, and the game came down to the last shot.
Lexi Rienertson led Twin Valley early, scoring the game’s first two buckets. Twin Valley jumped out to an 11-5 lead after Jordan Niles sank the first of her four three-pointers on the night. The Wildcats forced turnovers early, and in the second quarter switched to a full-court press to try to extend their success. It worked, and with coach Buddy Hayford trying his hardest to yell over an enthusiastic crowd, the Wildcat defense kept the Rebels in check. Abbi Molner scored six points during the second quarter and Niles added another three for a lead that reached double-digits.
At the half, Twin Valley had a nine-point advantage, 25-16, but Leland & Gray began to chip away at the lead. Alex Morrow hit three free throws and Haley Buffum hit a two-point field goal to bring the lead down to four. But Niles, who had her highest scoring game of the season, scored five and Christina Moore added two to a 7-0 Twin Valley run that put their team back up by 11. Buffum would keep hitting free throws and key a 9-2 run that put Leland & Gray down four at the end of the third, 34-30.
Twin Valley was not able to rebuild a substantial lead in the fourth and went on the defensive. Molner nailed a three to open the fourth, but two buckets from Rebels guard Chelby Nystrom, including a rainbow three, tied the game. Leland & Gray took the lead for the first time on a Morrow free throw, and the Wildcats were caught in a dry spell at shooting. Niles hit a key layup to tie the game at 41, but Hannah Swanson’s shot for the win bounced off the back of the rim to send the game to overtime.
The Rebels went 5-8 from the line in the overtime period with all free-throw points coming from Ashley Goddard. Niles kept the Wildcats in the game with her last big three-pointer. Driving into the lane with one second left, Molner was fouled, and when she was unable to knock down the free throws to tie it, the Wildcats fell, 48-46.
Twin Valley has looked like a far more composed team in the latter part of the season, but has been unable to create a winning streak all year. “We’ve had some really close games over the last half of the season, but we’re trying to find consistency,” said Hayford. “We’re trying to get on a roll, and it’s been frustrating but play has certainly improved.”
The Rebels were outscored from the floor 42-27, but hitting 21 of 37 free throws proved to be killer, with Morrow and Goddard visiting the stripe 27 times. Twin Valley was only four of 11 from the line including a disappointing 0-4 in overtime. Leland & Gray also won the rebounding battle 27-26.
Niles finished with 16 points and three steals. Molner scored 10 points and collected three rebounds and three steals. Three Rebels finished with double-digit points: Buffum and Morrow with 13 apiece, and Goddard with 12.