Tiger girls lose another heartbreaker to Hayward to end seasonThe Hayward Hurricanes are beginning to get a reputation. On Jan. 31, they handed the Northwestern High School girls basketball team
The Hayward Hurricanes are beginning to get a reputation. On Jan. 31, they handed the Northwestern High School girls basketball team a 27-25 loss that ultimately cost the Tigers a share of the Heart O’ North Conference title. Thursday, the Hurricane girls put an end to the Tigers’ season in Hayward, defeating NHS 39-37.
“I am really proud of what the girls accomplished this year on the court,” said Shawn Leith, NHS head coach. “They pulled together as a team and ended the season with one of the best records ever in Tiger girls basketball history, 18-4.”
NHS should still have a strong team next season, but three key members of this year’s record team will be moving on: seniors Alex Baillie, Gretchen Grube and Nikki Hughes.
“The seniors will be sorely missed; they have been in this program since fifth grade and it’s been fun watching them grow up and turn into the great players and students that they are,” Leith said. “They not only are great athletes but all around a classy group of girls — humble in victory and gracious in defeat.”
The Tigers nearly came away with a victory Thursday by holding Hayward to a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter while launching a comeback. Those two free throws, made by Jordan Aderman, proved to be the difference in Hayward’s two-point victory. Hayward also had a strong advantage at the free-throw line overall, making 9-of-13 shots to 4-of-14 for NHS.
In the first two quarters, Hayward led but the Tigers remained close. By the end of the third quarter the Hurricanes had begun to pull away, up 37-29. NHS halted Hayward’s momentum in, however, with Anna Morgan and Grube providing scoring in the post.
Northwestern came up one basket shy of victory despite the effort, but Leith was proud of the character the Tigers showed.
“It was a tough game to lose at Hayward, but the girls never quit and battled back twice on (Hayward’s) home court to make it a game when Hayward went on a couple runs,” he said.
Grube and Morgan led NHS in scoring, both with 11 points.
“Gretchen Grube did a great job in the post and really was a force inside,” Leith said. “She posted up strong all night and had some strong moves on the block. Anna Morgan played great as well, hitting some key shots when Hayward went on those runs and played through a nagging knee injury in the process.”
Lindsay Garay finished with seven points, including a crucial 3-pointer in the second quarter.
“Lindsay Garay probably hit the biggest shot of the night in the second quarter when Hayward went on an early run,” Leith said. “The girls were looking tired and exhausted, then Garay hit a three. It lifted our spirits and we only went into halftime down by two points.”
Lindsay Taipale and Baillie both added three points for the Tigers and Hughes finished with two.
“Nicole Hughes played tremendous; she is our rock in the point guard position,” Leith said. “She handled the press and allowed us to run our half-court offense. Alex Baillie did a tremendous job defensively many times, guarding the HON conference scoring leader from Hayward (Samantha Quandt) and held her to only seven points.”
Stepping up to fill the scoring void for Hayward was Morgan Lee, who hit a trio of 3-pointers and scored 17 points in just three quarters played.
“All in all, an incredible year for these girls,” Leith said of the Tigers. “I have never had a group of girls work so hard in practice and never complain. It’s disappointing to lose, but again, when you play like they did last night and when they put themselves in a position to tie or win on the last possession, there’s not much else you can ask for.”