It took overtime, but Northwest establishes early lead in the PAC.
The Royals jumped out to an early eight point lead, but the Indians chipped away at it slowly and surely, eventually forcing OT, then taking the win 56-54 in a crucial conference matchup.
It was a sloppy start, as both teams air-balled their first two from behind the arc. The usual sharpshooting CVCA squad still managed to end the first quarter with a 14-7 lead after a Sidney Marshall three ball at the buzzer. The Royals did a great job of keeping the Northwest bigs off balance until late in the quarter when Bottomley got a few deep touches and scores.
Bottomley battled foul trouble most of the game before eventually getting DQ’d with three minutes left in regulation. Northwest PG Gianna Kuhn also battled fouls for a lot of the game. That allowed sophomore Ashlyn Stark to step in and she took full advantage. As Northwest started imposing their will on the undersized Royals underneath they were able to close the halftime gap to four.
CVCA did a tremendous job on Cudnik and Marecek, Northwest’s top two guards, holding them both scoreless in the first half. Cudnik did not stay quiet for long as she got moving right after the half en route to scoring 10 for the game. Cudnik and Stark helped get the Indians within a bucket going into the 4th quarter.
Thats when it got wild as Nina Shaffer answered with a three after the Indians tied the game. After Northwest took their first lead of the game, Gia Casalinova answers with an old fashioned three point play to tie it up again. Not long after a Bottomley and 1 of her won, Casalinova buried a pair of free throws that eventually was the deciding points sending it into OT.
The bench came up big again for Northwest as Stark got the extra period started and Marecek added a steal and score to set the pace. CVCA got a big three from Sidney Marshall, her third of the night en route to 12 points to cut the deficit to a point. Northwest would answer right back and put some distance between themselves and the Royals until a late when CVCA cut it again to two. They had a chance to tie late but would end up traveling.
CVCA seemed to be a step ahead of Northwest early, seemingly almost knowing everything they were trying to run. Northwest adjusted and probably pulled some new wrinkles out in order to take the win. Gia Casalinova had another spectacular game as she finished with a game high 17 points. The Indians were led by Bottomley’s 14. Carly Spradling added 11 points while Ashley Cudnik chipped in 10.
Santa was there, the Grinch was there, there was a gingerbread man, but most importantly sophomore Ashlyn Stark made an appearance. She played her heart out, despite being small, she made a big impact on the game. It was a grand finale for those parents as they are no longer permitted to attend games at Northwest, forcing the Indians to play on the road for the foreseeable future, including the looming showdown with Marlington on the 30th!