FORT WAYNE – As it turned out, Taylor Wilsons pregame problems were not a sign of things to come for the Class 3A No. 4 Norwell girls basketball team. The senior was vomiting during warm-ups and through player introductions before Saturdays NHC matchup against Homestead.
By the end of the game, though, Wilson and the Knights came up big in a 53-46 road win over a shorthanded Spartans team Saturday.
Norwells senior guard hit seven free throws for all her points, including 3 of 4 in the fourth quarter when Norwell (5-0, 1-0) outscored Homestead (4-1, 1-0) 20-9.
I cant say enough about Taylor, Norwell coach Eric Thornton said. She held it together. We joked about (former Chicago Bulls star Michael) Jordan playing one of his best games after doing that, but of course, she doesnt even remember that. We were trying to pump her up that way; that this could be a good thing for her. A couple of times she even had to leave the court. She was toughening it out. What an example she is for us.
Wilson said she began to feel the effects of the flu Friday night.
I didnt think I would make it, but I wanted to give it a try, and I made it through, she said.
It is one of the biggest games of the year, so I needed to get through it.
Norwells momentum in the fourth started at the end of the third when Laken Chaney hit a half-court shot at the buzzer that cut Homesteads lead to 37-33.
The Knights got a quick basket to open the fourth and kept building from there.
That gave them a little bit of a run, and we didnt do a good job of getting the momentum back after that, Homestead coach Rod Parker said. We allowed them to steal that momentum and get the excitement.
Carlee Harnish led the Knights with 12 points, and Paige Frisch added 10. Olivia Geiger scored seven of her eight points in the fourth and added 12 rebounds.
The Spartans got 12 points from sophomore Sydney Buck and 11 from freshman Lindley Kistler. Homestead played without senior Emily Bley, who is still recovering from summer knee surgery. She was dressed and warmed up with the team but is still out indefinitely.
Theres no doubt we missed her leadership, Parker said of Bley. She is really needed in these big games like this against teams who have seniors and upperclassmen playing and have that leadership.
Norwell led 22-11 in the second quarter before a 22-1 run by Homestead gave the Spartans a 33-23 advantage in the third. The Knights were starting to turn the corner when Chaney hit her half-court heave as the buzzer sounded at the end of the third.
When you are down seven or eight or whatever, you can hit that panic button a little bit, but we didnt do that, Thornton said. We had some composure during times we had to have a basket. You ride that momentum from Chaneys shot at the end of the third quarter.