North Montgomery girls basketball coach Ryan Nuppnau used that phrase regularly after his Chargers team led, fell behind, came back and survived to win their first game of the Class 3A sectional 36-34 over Frankfort.
The fact that all of that happened in the last seven minutes of the game helped lead to the sense of relief for the coach and his staff, as North breaks an 8-game losing streak at the end of the regular season to win their first game of the sectional and advance to Friday night’s semifinal against Greencastle.
The Chargers, who move to 10-13 on the season, led fairly comfortably through the first three quarters. They were up 21-10 just under midway through the third period, and carried a 27-20 lead into the fourth.
Things all changed in the last eight minutes.
The Hot Dogs, who fall to 2-21 as their season ends, found their way to the rim, turned Chargers mistakes into points, hit six-straight free throws and in three minutes the game was tied at 28.
“Give a lot of credit to Frankfort,” Nuppnau said. “We got beat off the dribble and didn’t make any adjustments, and that hurt us down the stretch.”
Grace McClaskey hit a bucket. Frankfort hit one to tie it at 30.
Emily Sennett hit her only 3-pointer of the game and the Chargers led by three.
A free throw and then a trey by Frankfort’s Lizbeth Cruz Sandoval gave the Hot Dogs a 34-33 lead with 1:20 to go.
With just under a minute left, North’s Madi Welch stepped to the line and hit two free throws and the Chargers were back up by a point.
After a couple of possessions and turnovers by both teams, North’s Maddie Moseley went to the line and hit one more free toss to make it 36-34 with :17.4 left.
With both teams now out of timeouts, there was no way to set up any plays, and it went two turnovers for Frankfort around one for North and the game ended.
“Give Frankfort a lot of credit,” Nuppnau said. “They wanted it badly, “But we managed to keep calm and keep our cool enough. Emily’s (Sennett) three was big, and Madi’s (Welch) free throws sealed the deal. We got ourselves in a bit of black hole with the ball – we got too deep into their zone – in the second half. We haven’t been in many close games this season, but we practice them, and I thought the girls responded well without our having any timeouts.”
Another positive for the Chargers was their rebounding, as they doubled-up Frankfort 56-28.
“There was a point of emphasis in practice to crash the boards,” Nuppnau said, referring to a decided disadvantage against Western Boone last Friday. “With Frankfort playing a zone, and with us missing so many bunnies, we needed a lot of offensive boards. We also passed the ball well against their 1-2-2 zone. We tell the players all the time that good passes lead to good shots, and bad passes lead to bad shots or turnovers.”
North was led in scoring by Welch and Sennett with 10 each. Moseley had five points, eight boards, three steals and four assists. Lydia Dugard hauled in 13 rebounds, and Sennett grabbed nine.
The Hot Dogs were led in scoring by Jordan Frazier with 11 points and Sydney Cesare with 10.
Next up for the Chargers is Greencastle in the semifinals Friday. The Tiger Cubs own a 21-point win over North earlier in the season.
“We have a couple days to prepare,” Nuppnau said. “We know them. We have to control the paint, and we have to get defensive rebounds. Their big senior (Allison Stevens) is really tough. They shot really well against us, so we need to contest their shots more.
Stevens averages 16.5 points and 8.2 rebounds a game to lead the Tiger Cubs.
The game is the first of the two semifinals at Danville Friday.
Crawfordsville plays Danville tonight in the first of the two second-round games.