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Norse easily handle Titans at home

By Eric Seaman

Plain Dealer Correspondent

From beginning to end, there was little doubt who would walk out of Northfield on Tuesday night with the win.

After jumping out to an early lead, the Northfield girls’ basketball team used a dominating third quarter to defeat the visiting Taylor Titans 63-25.

After an 8-4 run in the first four minutes of action on Tuesday, the Norse exited the opening period up 11-6 thanks to a decisive advantage on the offensive boards.

Widening the lead for the hosts was a 14-3 run in the second quarter that stretched over the beginning six minutes. Aside from easy layups after dribble-drives and fast break opportunities, the Norse also showed their stature on the defensive end with active hands in their 2-3 zone, which caused troubles for the Titans in the half-court.

“We’ve been talking to them the last couple nights about how we need to get their defense better and work on that,” Northfield head coach Melissa Allen said, “and this was a game where we would be able to do that. They kind of knew coming in that’s what we were expecting.

“A couple of games that we lost, our defense was lacking so we really wanted to push it tonight.”

Thanks to the Titans scoring the final five points of the first half, they were only down 25-14 at halftime.

Throwing a monkey wrench into the visitors’ comeback hopes, however, was a third quarter that featured 26 Norse points compared to Taylor’s two.

In the first minute and a half of the quarter, Northfield’s Ariel Dale got things going for the Norse with a corner three-pointer, a steal and subsequent assist on the fast break to Kelcie Thomson and a couple of free throws.

Teammate Abbey Ross would soon follow things up in transition with a long two-pointer, but Dale would continue her dominant play on offense with a three-pointer, a fast break layup and two free throws, all in less than two minutes of play. That would conclude Northfield’s 16-0 run to start the second half.

Taylor’s only points in the third would then be scored on back-to-back free throws by freshman Ashlen Kropczynski.

Norse freshmen Kyra Kennedy and Addi Baker would then score their team’s remaining 10 points of the third, all near the basket or on free throws, to put Northfield up 51-16.

Only two minutes into the fourth, after a 5-2 run by Taylor, Allen would return her all-junior starting lineup of Dale, Thomson, Ross, Ally Keaffaber and Melanie Beery onto the court.

Four minutes later after a Thomson free throw, a Beery post-up score underneath, a Dale three from the corner and a baseline jumper from Thomson, Allen returned her underclassmen into the game for the final two minutes.

Dale led all scorers with 27 points, outscoring the Titans by two all on her own. Twelve of her points came from behind the arc.

Following her up in the scoring column was Thomson, who scored 14. The rest of the Norse’s points came from Addi Baker, who scored six, Kennedy and Kenzie Baer with four points each and Ross, Keaffaber, Beery and Kearston Stout all contributing two points each.

Leading a distributed scoring effort by the Titans, who also had eight scorers on Tuesday, was senior Shaelah Eliason with six.

The Norse improved to 5-3 on Tuesday with the win, while Taylor continued its struggles early this season, falling to 1-10 under second-year head coach Tony Oliver.

On Friday, Northfield will travel to the other side of Wabash to face off against Metro rival Southwood for a boys-girls doubleheader.

After starting out his coaching career with two-consecutive wins, Southwood head coach Chad West followed it up with five-straight losses, including to Northwestern by a final score of 75-6 at home and falling on the road to Oak Hill (63-16) and TRC foe Rochester (61-30).

“They’re struggling a little bit,” Allen said, "so us playing great defense is really going to help us and make our offense play better.”

The girls’ matchup is scheduled to tip off at 6:15 p.m., with the boys scheduled to play at 8 p.m.