Another Taylor vs. Northwestern girls basketball clash went down to the wire Wednesday. This time, it was Taylor that found a way to win.
The Titans beat the Purple Tigers 43-35 Wednesday in the second semifinal of the girls Howard County Tournament to earn a spot in tonight’s championship against Western. Like the teams’ meeting on Dec. 13 (a four-point Northwestern win), the rivals took this game down to the wire. The difference was this time Taylor found ways to get things right in the closing minutes.
“I think the biggest thing is the fact we were more aggressive with the ball,” Taylor coach Dennis Bentzler said. “We’ve lost several games, three or four games ... where we lost the game in the last minute. I thought [on Wednesday] our kids wanted the ball, wanted to get to the free-throw line.”
Taylor led 33-29 going into the fourth quarter but suffered a stretch of 5:37 without scoring, spanning the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters. In that time, Northwestern tied the game on a pair of jumpers by Sydney Zeck and Olivia McClure. Taylor pulled ahead 35-33 on a pair of free throws by Cami Hansen, but Northwestern tied again on a rebound hoop by Brooke Treadway with 3:58 left.
The Tigers didn’t score again. Taylor’s defense came up with critical stops and the Titans went ahead with a piercing drive by Brie Boehler, and a free throw from Hansen to lead 38-35 with :52 left.
Northwestern had a chance to tie or trim the lead in the final seconds but Treadway was called for traveling when she fell to the hardwood after enduring a physical challenge for an offensive rebound. Taylor’s Hannah Mullinax was fouled a few seconds later. She missed her first shot, and Northwestern was whistled for a technical foul. Then the Northwestern bench was hit with a second foul. Mullinax missed her next freebie, but Brie Boehler was 3 for 4 on the technical free throws to put the game out of reach with :24 left.