LINDEN — North Montgomery’s girls basketball team played like a winning team for the better part of three quarters, but in the end, Lebanon was too much as the Tigers rolled past the Chargers 62-44.
The Chargers infused a game plan out of the gate, knocking down shots and winning the rebound advantage.
“It was exciting to see,” Chargers coach Ryan Nuppnau said. “It was exciting to see the girls come together, play hard, play hard for each other, and play smart.”
Unfortunately the Chargers’ season long Achilles heel posed a roadblock in their hunt for a victory.
Turning the ball over has hurt North Montgomery (3-18, 1-5) all season, and 16 first half turnovers by the Chargers allowed the Tigers (9-10, 2-3) to take a 34-26 halftime lead.
Abbi Wirey scored seven of her 10 points in the second quarter, as Lebanon went up 21-16 early in the period. The Chargers responded to take a brief lead at 24-22 behind a pair of Kendall Humphrey’s 3-pointers, but the Tigers ended the half on a 12-2 run.
Despite the eight-point deficit, North Montgomery connected on 10-of-25 first half shots, including four 3-pointers, and out-rebounded Lebanon 29-16.
The difference the entire game proved to be Lebanon’s ability to take care of the basketball. Lebanon only turned the ball over five times, which included two in the final minutes of the game. Something first-year coach Nic Carothers made a point of emphasis following the Tigers 72-52 loss to Tri-West last Friday.
“Last game we had 36 turnovers, and 27 of them were unforced, so we really put an emphasis on we really need to take care of the ball, and take what the defense gives you and not just run the play,” he said. “There’s going to be opportunities to deviate, just make the best decision for the team, and they’re starting to do that now.”
The Tigers depth also began to tire the Chargers in the second half. A total of 10 players scored for Lebanon, as they stretched a 48-36 lead at the end of the third quarter to a 20-point advantage midway through the fourth. Gabby Brewer led the Tigers with 14 points. Ashlyn Terrill added eight.
“We try to play that the ball will decide who scores,” Carothers said. “And when the ball finds you when you’re open, you have an obligation to take that shot.”
Nuppnau attributed the lopsided second half to the Tigers finding alternative solutions to the Chargers game plan.
“We were out-sized and outmatched, and we were more worried about their bigs down low,” he said. “And so we were helping off of a couple girls and they did well, but we just lost track of a couple of shooters we knew we couldn’t leave, and a lot of their guards just got points off turnovers once they went to a man-to-man press and that just opened the flood gates for them.”
Emily Sennett led the Chargers with 15 points, while Tori Warren added six, and Kaitlyn Rice chipped in five.
Lebanon host Bethesda Christian on Monday at 7 p.m., while North Montgomery closes out the regular season next Friday at Western Boone at 6 p.m.