By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
It wasn’t exactly the performance Ron Knepp was hoping for, but a win is a win.
Knepp, the North Daviess girls basketball head coach watched his team struggle offensively for much of the night before pulling away for a 29-15 opening night victory against Washington Catholic.
The Cougars started the season with an encouraging 9-2 lead after the first quarter, but if Knepp thought his team struggled to find a rhythm in the first period, what happened next was baffling. The Cougars defense held the visiting Cardinals to only three points in the second quarter, but North Daviess could only manage one single point giving them a 10-5 halftime lead.
“To score nine points in the first quarter of the first game, I was thinking that’s good, but at the same time we had seven turnovers in that quarter,” Knepp said. “I’m thinking the second quarter we’ll get better at taking care of the ball, and we come out and put one up on the board. That’s tough to recover from when you only score one point in a quarter.”
Both teams came out in the third quarter and played well offensively as North Daviess outscored the Cardinals 9-7 to hold a 19-12 edge. The 16 combined points in that quarter was one more points than the teams combined for in the entire first half. As difficult as it was on offense for Washington Catholic, head coach Michael Hopkins thought the game was still up for grabs before the Cougars won the final quarter 10-3. The Cardinals got six points from Elizabeth Perkins and five points from Sarah Wild.
“It was a five or six-point game with six minutes to go, and we’ve missed eight or nine free throws,” Hopkins said. “We’re right there in the game. That’s a game that we could have held on and made it close to the end. They finished it, they closed it out, and opened up a lead.”
North Daviess was led by forward Sabra Smith with 13 points and Meghan Knepp with 10 points.
The turning point in the game may have come from Smith. Midway through the third quarter, North Daviess held a slim 12-8 advantage when Smith turned a loose ball into a putback and a three-point play pushing the lead to 15-8. Knepp stressed that his team needs to be patient on the offensive end and good things will happen.
“It’s early, but we need to find an offensive flow to get some easier looks at the basket and score the basketball,” Knepp said.
Despite a tough opening loss in the Michae Hopkins era for Washington Catholic, their first-year head coach was encouraged by the defensive intensity they showcased while holding the Cougars to only 29 points.
“I think our man to man defense when we focus and play together as one unit I think it’s pretty good,” Hopkins said. “I learned that if we have to we can pressure the ball, and we’re somewhat quick up top. Our post players did a good job of boxing out. We had a couple breakdowns, but that’s going to happen over the course of a game. I was pretty pleased with our defense.”
North Daviess 9- 1- 9- 10 - 29
Wash. Catholic 2- 3-7- 3 -15
North Daviess (1-0)
Smith 5 3-4 4 13, Knepp 2 5-6 2 13, Mallett 2 0-0 3 4, Spears 0 2-4 1 2. Totals: 9 10-14 17 29
Washington Catholic (0-1)
M. Wichman 1 0-0 4 2, H. Wild 1 0-1 3 2, Abel 0 0-1 2 2, S. Wild 1 3-4 5 5, Perkins 1 4-6 3 6
Totals: 4 7-12 18 15
3-point goals: North Daviess 1, Knepp.