NEW MARKET — With her teammates in foul trouble, and the ball in her hands — Natalie Manion helped seal a county and conference win for Southmont in a 55-45 defeat of North Montgomery on Thursday night.
The win is the fourth-straight for the Mounties over the Chargers as they took a step toward a third-straight county title, and earned a pair of Journal Review County Chase points.
“We worked really hard, we shared the basketball, and balance of scoring for us,” Southmont coach Dustin Oakley said. “Just great team basketball.”
Sidney Veatch helped give the Mounties (9-7, 1-3) a 31-21 lead at the half with 10 points and nine rebounds, before securing her 10th double-double of the season in the second half, but along with fellow starters Belle Miller, Addi Charles, and Claire Remley, was limited in the second half with foul trouble.
Cue Natalie Manion.
The junior scored nine of her game and season-high 18 points in the third quarter to help spread the Southmont lead to 12 at 39-27, and buried 6-of-10 free throws in the final stanza to seal the deal.
“I know I’m good enough, and I need to produce more offensively for my team,” Manion said. “Coach Oakley has been after me to drive the ball more. I made two in the second quarter and that gave my confidence a boost. It kind of clicked for me, and I took it on myself. I want to help my teammates in any way I can, and that has to be on both ends of the floor.”
Manion completed the effort by recording her first double-double of the season with 12 rebounds.
“She was super aggressive, and took care of the ball,” Oakley added about Manion. “She didn’t score on Tuesday, so I thought she responded very well tonight.”
North Montgomery struggled offensively, scoring just 15 points in the middle two quarters, but had a number of chances to climb back in the game in the fourth quarter.
Maddie Moseley cut the lead to 45-40 with a 3-pointer at the 3:00 mark, and Emily Sennett cut it to 50-45 with a triple at the 1:18 mark, but the Chargers (9-8, 2-2) were unable to get any closer down the stretch.
“We kind of let it slip out of our hand in the fourth quarter, and weren’t quite able to get it back,” North Montgomery coach Ryan Nuppnau said. “We were able to fight back to get it to four or five points and we weren’t able to get it any closer. Our girls played hard, and Southmont played hard too. It was a typical county game.”
The Chargers trailed 14-12 after a quarter, and quickly let the Mounties climb past their defensive season average of 40 points per game just a minute into the fourth quarter. Southmont scored at least 14 points in three of the four quarters, and got to the free throw line 33 times — converting on 16 of them. North Montgomery was 13-of-19 from the charity stripe, but just 15-of-56 from the field, while Southmont was 18-of-49.
“We’ve been harping on the girls of just talking,” Nuppnau said. “There were some defensive transitions here and there that we just didn’t do a good job of talking and finding where the ball was. They got at least three or four easy baskets just because we weren’t talking. Little things like that in a tough game you have to take care of.”
Moseley led the Chargers with a double-double, scoring 13 points, and grabbing 14 rebounds. Lydia Dugard and Sennett each reached double-figures with 12 and 10 respectively.
Veatch added 11 for the Mounties, while Remley chipped in nine, Miller six, and Bailey Thompson six off the bench.
North Montgomery travels to Greencastle on Tuesday, while Southmont rides a three-game winning streak into a home date with Attica next Thursday.
“The last three games we’ve put up 70, 54, and 55,” Oakley said. “Our offensive is clicking. We have some really aggressive girls, confident girls, and we have executed three games in a row.”