NORTH CRAWFORD - It was a whirlwind of challenges this past week for North Crawford girls basketball team. When the dust finally settled after three games, the team would find themselves back in the win column once again when they hosted Seneca on Monday.
Beginning at non-conference game against Boscobel on Monday, Jan. 11, the Trojans hit the ground running. But after a tight 17-12 ballgame, the team's fortunes took a turn for the worse when their starting point guard Angie Herfel was sidelined shortly after halftime with a concussion.
The Trojans showed tremendous grit against a much larger Bulldog squad, but the resulting turnovers proved too costly, and the team would eventually fall 51-30.
The game featured a balanced attack, led by Elizabeth Stovey with nine points and fellow freshman Sarah Bransky with six points and three steals.
With Herfel recovering and unable to practice, and freshman Sophie Ambrose still healing from an ankle sprain, the team traveled to Ithaca to face the Bulldogs on January 14 with a roster of eight players. Although the Trojans would continue to find ways to contribute on offense, the team looked out-of-sorts against their scrappy conference opponent.
Stovey and teammate Kloee Chamberlain would finish the contest with identical stat lines: nine points and 11 rebounds apiece, while the guard duo of Sarah Bransky and Sarah Hanson each provided five points and two steals.
These performances would not be enough to rattle the Bulldogs, however, as North Crawford would go on to lose by a score of 47-30.
Looking to regroup before their match-up with conference rival Seneca on Monday, Jan. 18, the Trojans hosted a Senior/Parent Night to honor their graduating players and celebrate the supporting families of the program.
With the stage set, the evening proved to be quite an exciting ticket. Down 21-10 just after halftime, the Trojans turned up the pressure on the young Seneca squad. Spurred by a flurry of aggressive steals, the North Crawford team rallied steadily over the course of the second half.
When the Trojans finally seized the lead with just over four minutes remaining, they were determined to hold on. Seneca kept it close in the final seconds, but the Trojans were able to seal the comeback at the free throw line for a rousing 35-31 victory.
It marked the first win over Seneca the program has had in nearly a decade.
"Special night," said coach Michael DiPadova after the win. "To be short-handed in terms of the roster, I'm very proud of this team and the way we battled. We just needed to activate, get more aggressive with the offense. Our press helped give us that jumpstart - that was pure hustle."
Kloe Chamberlain led the charge with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Elizabeth Stovey continued her impressive season with a double-double, providing 11 points, 12 boards and four assists, as well as three key steals in the final minutes that helped turn the game around for the home team.
Sarah Hanson and Sarah Bransky each added some clutch free throws to their resume, combining for eight points, five steals and five assists between them.
Making the most of her return to the starting lineup, junior Faye Brassington looks to have found her jump shot, knocking down four points and showing a constant spark of energy on the defensive end.
It was a tough loss for Seneca, who led at halftime 21-10. The Indians were forced to quarantine in December for aaobut two weeks only to return in January to face some of the better teams in the conference.
It looked like their opportunity for a victory had arrived Monday night at North Crawford, but it was not to be.
“We jumped out to a 21-10 halftime lead, but ww were unable to sustain the lead due to cold shooting and turnovers created from their full court pressure in the second half,” Seneca coach Kim Redman said later. “We had a lot of really good looks, but were unable to make the shots.”
Leading scorers for Seneca were Taylor Snyder with eight points, Kendra Chambers with seven points, Grace Check with six points and Ella Greene with five points.Jorja Clark and Nirea Klema each scored two points and Bryonna Caya had one point.