FARMINGTON — Charity began at the foul line for Nokomis High School on Friday night.
The undefeated Warriors (2-0) reeled of 13 consecutive free throws in a tight fourth quarter to sidestep headstrong Mt. Blue with a 47-40 victory in a girls’ basketball game.
“Shocking,” Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said, “because we normally don’t do well foul shooting. Well, we do, but I honestly don’t even know what our percentage was. I feel like it was better than most times in most games. It was better here than I have seen.
“Very, very happy with Hanna, No. 30, Meservey, did a great job and she did a great job on (Lexi) Mittelstadt. I am really happy with Gabby Lord, my big girl, with rebounding and attacking the basket. I was happy with all of them..and Chelsea’s (Crockett) is my veteran and my freshmen came in and really gave me some strong minutes.”
Nokomis was holding on to a healthy 34-28 lead with the Cougars breathing down the Warriors’ backs going into a stressful fourth quarter.
That’s when the Cougars decided to tighten up their defense and press, shutting down the lanes for Nokomis. But Mt. Blue’s aggressive defense inside the paint only meant more trips to the foul line for the Warriors.
“They (Cougars) did a great job,” Paradis said. “They are really physical. They are tough and we know that and we are young. We lost some veteran people last year. I rotate freshmen into our lineups so we have 18 year olds going against 14 year olds. That’s a big difference. We knew that they would be tough. They are aggressive. They are in the passing lanes. So you have to be able to adjust…”
With 3:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, sophomore guard Lexi Mittelstadt (14 points) hit a pair of foul shots and fired off a crucial 3-pointer to tie the game at 35-35.
But that’s when Nokomis made its procession to the charity stripe and began dropping in shots without a hint of stress. Senior Chelsea Crockett (12 points) made six of the those fourth-quarter free throws and junior Gabrielle Lord (14 points) and Maci Leali (10 points) combined for seven points from the foul line. For the evening, Nokomis made good on 20 of its 26 free throws.
In the first half, the Warriors and Cougars kept pressured each other, with Mt. Blue building a 19-16 at halftime. Senior captain Rebecca Harmon had a double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds and scoring 15 points. Mt. Blue was also strong at the foul line, going 12 for 16.
“A huge game from our first game against Skowhegan,” Mt. Blue coach Fred Conlogue said. “We played a lot more composed. We had a few turnovers in the second quarter, which we were ahead by four, that took away some possessions.
“But all and all, it was a big step up from the way we played against Skowhegan. Our game plan was to alternate back and fourth (on defense) and stop Crockett, which we did really good. That whole team is amazing.
“I have to give them credit. We definitely disrupted them in the first half, but they figured out how to overcome that and came out on top and had composure and finished down the stretch.”
Mt. Blue’s Rebecca Harmon (12) battles for the ball with Nokomis’s Chelsea Crockett (14) as Harmon’s teammates Lexi Mittelstadt (24) and Mariel Damon (35) in a basketball game in Farmington on Friday night.Mt. Blue’s Jacelyn Daggett (32) drives around Nokomis’s Maci Leali (23) as her teammate (22) Gabrielle Lord in a basketball game in Farmington on Friday night.Mt. Blue Lexi Mittelstadt (24) waits for pass as Nokomis’s Makenzy Elderkin (34) tries to intervene in a basketball game in Farmington on Friday night.