It was senior point guard Larynda Keith's final home game and the North Daviess girls basketball team was determined to make sure she went out with a victory.
The Cougars (13-3, 5-0 Southwestern Indiana) defeated Union Dugger (5-9, 2-5) 48-39 Thursday evening on senior night at the Cougar Den.
The Cougars started quickly as they ran out to a 13-8 advantage after the first eight minutes of play, keyed by junior Sabra Smith¹s eight points.Dugger was able to slow the Cougars offensive rhythm early by getting to the foul line, and converting six of its eight attempts.
In the second quarter, the Cougars began to impose their will on the visiting Bulldogs. After a basket from Cali Hale, which cut the lead to 13-10, North Daviess went on a 10-2 run to push its advantage to 23-12. The Cougars got five points from Meghan Knepp, and four points apiece from Smith and Keith to take a 30-20 lead into halftime.
"The difference was less fouls in the second quarter," said North Daviess coach Ron Knepp. "We could get a rhythm going, and in the first, third and fourth quarters it seemed like they spent a lot of time at the foul line." Coming out of halftime, Smith connected on a 3-pointer to push the lead to 33-20, and the Cougars would extend the lead to 38-25, the most they would lead by the entire night before settling for a 40-27 lead after three quarters.
Smith added five more points, and North Daviess outscored Dugger 10-7 in the quarter. The Bulldogs put together a 7-0 run to start the final quarter to cut the lead to 40-34, and they appeared to have gained the momentum for the first time. Ron Knepp attributed the sloppy start to the quarter on a packed schedule over the past two weeks. Thursday's game was its fourth game in the past nine days.
"Some nights you have that," Ron Knepp said. "We have played a lot of games in a short amount of time, and we have more games coming. Sometimes in the middle of that span, you find games like this, where you don¹t have your best game." Meghan Knepp ended the spurt by connecting on a 3-pointer to push the lead to nine points, 43-34. That was as close as the Bulldogs would get, as the teams split the final 10 points for the 48-39 final.
Ron Knepp was pleased to see Meghan Knepp and Smith step up and pull out a game they might have let slip away in seasons past.
"That's the way it¹s been for us all year for us," Ron Knepp said. "We have had teams that we play with them, and then they come back, and make runs on us. It seems like we have always won the fourth quarter. The girls dig down and find a way to win. You have kids like Sabra (Smith) and Meghan (Knepp) stepping up and taking those shots, and that's leadership." Thursday evening's finality was a special night for the North Daviess coach in his fourth season as he will soon say goodbye to Keith, a player Ron Knepp won¹t ever forget.
"Words cannot express what she has done for this program," Ron Knepp said. "When she started is when I started, and we took a lot of lumps those first two years. Last year we were able to get to nine wins and this year to already be at 13 with four games left to play is huge. She (Keith) has been a driving force behind all of that. She has broken the career assist mark at North Daviess, she has already broken the season record for assists, and we still have four games left and the sectional. She does a tremendous job running the show for us, and I'll be honest with you, I wouldn¹t mind if she¹d stay another year."
UNION DUGGER 8 12 7 12 - 39
NORTH DAVIESS 13 17 10 8 - 48
Union Dugger (39)
Secrest 0 1-2 1 1, Jobe 2 2-5 0 7, H. Smith 3 5-5 3 12, Hale 2 0-0 0 4, Kendall 1 0-0 0 3, Reynolds 1 1-2 1 3, Sullivan 3 3-6 3 9. Totals 12 12-19 8 39.
North Daviess (48)
Keith 2 0-1 3 4, Knepp 5 0-0 1 14, Smith 10 2-2 3 23, Hollis 0 0-0 1 0, Mallett 2 0-0 4 4, Moore 1 1-1 1 3, Fitzgerald 0 0-0 1 0. Totals 20 3-4 14 48.
3-point goals: North Daviess 5 (Knepp 4, Smith), Union Dugger 3 (Jobe,
Kendall, H. Smith