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Chargers put away Bulldogs, advance to sectional final

LIZTON — North Montgomery took control early on and never let the lead get away in a 45-39 win over Monrovia in the IHSAA Class 3A Girls’ Basketball Sectional semifinal at Tri-West on Friday night.

The Chargers will play Tri-West in the sectional championship tonight at 7:30 p.m. North Montgomery’s first sectional final appearance since 2013. The Bruins beat Danville 54-44 in the second semifinal on Friday.

Monrvia’s (8-12) only lead came at 6-5 late in the first quarter. The Chargers (5-13) led 9-6 after a period, 23-20 at the half and led by as many as nine in the second half.

“It was big to get that lead,” North Montgomery coach Ryan Nuppnau said. “We came out and knocked down some 3’s to begin with,” “And played good defense really in that first quarter. Being able to get that lead and then maintain was huge, because then we got into foul trouble. So being able to maintain that lead and not allow them to take advantage to foul trouble was huge. The girls kept their composure throughout the game and knocked down free throws at the end.”

There was no shortage of whistles in the first half, but few that led to free throw attempts for either team and no players fouled out despite prevalent foul trouble.

Grace McClaskey knocked down her third 3-pointer to extend North Montgomery’s lead to 37-28 to start the final period, but Monrovia made a final push. A 5-0 run cut it to 37-33, and the Bulldogs twice cut the lead to two down the stretch, but the Chargers iced the game at the free throw line with a 6-of-10 effort in the fourth quarter. Hadley Broadwater scored all five of her points in the final five minutes, include a 3-of-4 mark from the stripe. The Chargers were 11-of-17 for the game.

Katie Rice led the Chargers with 12, while McClaskey added 11 and Madi Welch nine. North Montgomery connected on 15-of-37 field goals, including 4-of-8 from the beyond the arc. And while Monrovia’s pressure created 21 North Montgomery turnovers, a halftime adjustment by the Chargers on the boards was all the difference over the final 16 minutes.

“We did a good job,” Nuppnau said. “I know in the first half we gave up seven offensive boards, and there in the second half they only got three. That was a big key in the second half, and at halftime we emphasized that ‘we have to control the boards, we can’t give them second chance opportunities, and also we need to get more offensive boards, and putbacks,’ and we got in a couple of those situations down low, which was good to see.”

After holding a narrow 13-11 advantage on the boards in the first half, the Chargers dominated the second half with a 22-16 margin, including eight on the offensive end.

Mallory Willett led the Bulldogs with 11 points. Monrovia stayed in the game with seven made 3-pointers on 23 attempts. Overall they were just 13-of-48 from the field.

For the first time all season the Chargers are at full strength, now having their entire varsity roster over the last two weeks.

“It’s been awesome,” Nuppnau said. “The girls have played hard, practiced hard. The intensity has been there and the excitement has been there. And that’s neat to see here coming at the home stretch and when it matters the most. We are playing at the top of our game when it matters the most. We put ourselves in the championship game. Just being able to get ourselves in that situation is awesome. Now we need to turn it up a notch.”

The task Saturday night will be tough though, facing a Tri-West team that beat the Chargers 85-11 in the regular season. A game that took place in early December, but seems like an eternity ago, as the Chargers have been out with COVID-19 protocols and sidelined with injuries — to now being at full strength.

“No matter if it’s Tri-West or Danville, it’s going to be a tough matchup, but also we haven’t played them with a full force team yet, so I’m excited to see how we do against them,” Nuppnau said. “It’s also rewarding because all of the adversity and all of the frustration and all the ups and downs we’ve gone through this year, we were able to capitalize on those down-turns and we were able to get individual players more confident and better in themselves and each other. So when we finally brought the team together, we are much better. A lot of teams during those tough times could have folded, and they didn’t. This is the reward for them, getting to that championship game.”

North Montgomery 45, Monrovia 39

NM 9 14 11 11 — 45

MV 6 14 8 11 — 39

NORTH MONTGOMERY (5-13): Madi Welch 4 0-0 9, Hadley Broadwater 1 3-4 5, Nina Gable 0 2-3 2, Lydia Dugard 2 0-0 4, Grace McClaskey 4 0-2 11, Katie Rice 3 6-8 12, McKenzie Schroeder 1 0-0 2; Totals 15-37 11-17 45.

MONROVIA (8-12): Grace Whitaker 3 0-0 8, Flower Vare 1 0-0 3, Emily Crouch 1 2-3 3, Ashley Lewis 2 4-6 9, Mary Cox 1 0-0 2, Mallory Willett 4 1-5 11, Gracie Lee 0 0-0 0, Haley Mobley 1 0-0 3; Totals 13-48 6-13 39.

3-Point Shooting: NM 4-8 (McClaskey 3, Welch), MV 7-23 (Willett 2, Whitaker 2, Lewis, Mobley, Vale).

Rebounds: NM 35, MV 27

Turnovers: NM 21, MV 8

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