By Chris McCarthy/Editor
The Glencoe High School girls basketball team went almost basket for basket against Saks on Friday (Feb. 13), but ultimately fell four points short of a berth in the Northeast Regional Tournament.
Maiya Northard scored seven of her game-high 32 points over the final 2:50 to lead the Lady Wildcats to a 63-59 victory in a Class 3A subregional game at GHS.
Trailing by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter, Glencoe eventually forced a 57-57 tie when Kaileigh Billingsley sank a pair of free throws with 1:15 remaining.
Saks regained the advantage 10 seconds later on Northard’s jump shot and made it a four-point lead when Allyah Simmons knocked down two foul shots.
The hosts quickly drove down the court, and Sally Tinker drew a foul with 50 seconds on the clock.
The junior forward hit both attempts to close the gap to 61-59.
Simmons nailed a free throw to put the visitors up by three points, however, and Glencoe couldn’t convert on its next possession.
Simmons missed a pair of three throws with16.2 left, but the Lady Jackets once again missed a shot and Saks got the rebound.
Glencoe still had a chance to tie the game with a three-point basket when Simmons’ shot was blocked, but Northard grabbed the rebound and scored to make it a two-possession lead and essentially secure the win.
The Lady Yellow Jackets ended the season at 15-10.
Glencoe head coach Yvette Sparks noted that her squad’s failure to get off to a fast start hurt its chances.
“We’ve shown anxiety and nerves at the beginning of each important game this year, and we’ve got to be able to shed that faster. [Saks] just took it to us, so kudos to them. The girls are learning that it’s not just about stepping in front [in defending a drive to the basket]. It’s about getting that right angle so you’re either going to draw a charge or cause her to change direction.’
Both teams didn’t perform well at the free throw line. Glencoe shot 54 percent (13-for-24), while Saks (9-14) went 16-for-32 (50 percent).
“We got in foul trouble, and once that happened, we became nervous,” said Sparks. “We were able to find the person to break their press for the most part, but when the layup or short shot wasn’t available, we should have pulled it out and looked for a better shot.”
Tinker led Glencoe with 23 points, while Billingsley and Jessica Rathje each had 15.
After the lead changed hands seven times during the first quarter, Simmons’ three-point basket with 20 seconds left gave Saks a 16-14 advantage.
Northard took over in the second period, scoring eight of her team’s 12 points. Her basket at 3:35 provided the Lady Wildcats with a 25-18 lead.
But Glencoe finished out the first half with an 8-2 spurt. Rathje’s layup with just over a minute left gave the hosts a one-point lead before Simmons’ free throw tied the game at 26-26 at halftime.
The Lady Yellow Jackets continued their momentum after the break. Tinker’s three-pointer just 17 seconds into the second half helped Glencoe take a 36-31 lead by the midway point of the third quarter.
Once again the hosts had little answer for Northard, however, who accounted for 12 points of a 16-7 Saks run that put the visitors up 47-43 entering the final eight minutes.
Tinker scored eight of her points in the fourth quarter to help Glencoe keep within single digits, but Northard’s clutch rebound and put-back in the final seconds proved too much to overcome.
Miracle Dennard added 20 points for Saks.
“I would have liked to gone on past today, but we had a great run and won the area [tournament], and I have the vast majority of the team coming back,” said Sparks. “I’m just very proud of the team for how far we came this year. We graduated six seniors last year, and these girls took on a new coach who had entirely different concepts. These girls had to adapt, and they did. They gave me everything that I asked for, every day. They established their roles and became better shooters and better ball handlers and communicated better and became a family.”