By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
ELNORA — Meghan Knepp didn’t have time to think, she just let it fly.
Trailing by one point with two seconds to play in regulation at the Cougar Den Tuesday, the North Daviess girls basketball team looked as if it were about to suffer its first loss of the season. After a missed Shoals free throw and trailing 30-29 with two seconds to play in regulation, North Daviess head coach Ron Knepp took a timeout, and drew up a play for his hottest shooter at the time, Meghan Knepp.
Knepp had scored eight of the Cougars 11 points in the quarter, including one three-pointer. Junior forward Sabra Smith took an inbound pass inside half court and immediately found Knepp on the left wing, and she did the rest. Knepp’s quick catch and shoot found the bottom of the net as time expired, giving the Cougars (5-0) a thrilling 32-30 victory.
Knepp said there was no time to think, she just wanted to make sure the play was executed properly.
“I was thinking I better hit this shot, or my coach is going to be really mad,” said Meghan Knepp who led North Daviess with 13 points.
The Cougars jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the first quarter behind five points from Smith and two from Taylor Mallett. The Cougars appeared to be on its way to an easy win, but Shoals didn’t get the message. The Jug Rox outscored the Cougars 10-3 in the second quarter, and then 13-9 in the third quarter to take a 23-19 lead entering the final quarter. With under four minutes to play, Shoals held what looked to be a commanding 28-22 lead, but struggled mightily from the foul line down the stretch. Jaylan Hilderbrand missed three of four free throws in the fourth quarter and five of six overall opening the door to the North Daviess comeback in the final minutes. Smith added 12 points, Mallett had five and Larynda Keith added two.
“We saw Hildebrand was struggling to make free throws,” Ron Knepp said. “It was an intent of ours to be very agressive with her. If you get the steal you get it, if you put her on the line, then you put her on the line.”
Ron Knepp said despite the struggle offensively, the key to the comeback was the intensity on the defensive end.
“Our defense has been our bread and butter,” Ron Knepp said. “We felt that we could keep them under 30 (points), that’s a goal we had coming into the game. We felt like if we could keep them under 30, we could win the game. We felt we could score more than 30 points, it took 32 full minutes to score 32 points.”
Ron Knepp said that these types of close games are something you can’t simulate during the offseason, and it’s a learning experience to pull them out during the season.
“It’s tough this early in the season for Shoals or us,” Ron Knepp said. “You don’t have these types of games in the summer. In the summer people don’t play alot of defense. When you get into the first part of November, and you start getting defense and coming down to the end of games, that’s alot of pressure. We want to grow from this win.”
North Daviess will welcome Washington (2-2,) today into the Cougar Den. The Hatchets will pose an enormous test to the Cougar defense, which has only allowed an average of 22 points per game this season. Washington has scored 47.8 points per game.
“Is their high powered offense going to be better than our defense,” Ron Knepp said. “We’re going to see if we can keep them in the 30s. We need to keep them in the 30s to make it a game. If they’re up in the 50s, they are going to win that game, if they’re down in the 30s we can make it a game, and if it’s close anything can happen.”
Shoals 0 10 13 7Ñ 30
North Daviess 7 3 9 13 Ñ32
Shoals (30) - Wagler 0 0-1 3 0, Hilderbrand 1 1-6 0 3, Hart 0 0-0 4 0, Albright 1 0-0 4 2, Hawkins 1 1-1 1 3, Harder 3 1-2 1 10, Sanders 5 0-2 2 12. Totals 12 3-12 15 30
North Daviess (32) - Knepp 5 1-4 2 13, Keith 1 0-0 4 2, Hollis 0 0-0 1 0, Smith 5 2-7 4 12, Spears 0 0-2 1 0, M. Schwartzentruber 0 0-0 2 0, Fitzgerald 0 0-0 0 0, Mallett 1 3-4 2 5. Totals 12 6-17 18 32
3-point goals: Shoals 3 (Sanders 2, Harder 1), North Daviess 2 (Knepp 2)