Brock Netter, Staff Writer
MCDERMOTT — Round two between Northwest and Oak Hill wasn’t remotely close to how round one played out.
But the result was still the same: a Mohawk victory.
The Mohawks tightened up defensively, recorded seven blocks on the night, and forced Oak Hill (7-6, 4-4 SOC II) to shoot less than 20 percent from the floor on their way to a 36-30 victory on Thursday.
“I think we put together a full game and our defensive effort was incredible,” Northwest coach Dave Frantz said. “We missed some shots early, but I told the girls to just stay with it because our defense will get us to where we need to be. When you can hold an Oak Hill team, who is coached by one of the best in the state and has a talented roster to just single digits in the first half, it speaks volumes about how we continue to play and trust one another.”
The last time both teams met, it came down to the final shot, one which came from the hands of NW’s Reagan Lewis. While a last second shot wasn’t needed this go-around, there was still late game fireworks.
Despite Northwest (12-1, 8-1 SOC II) leading by double digits for most of the night, Oak Hill got a few shots to fall and eventually cut the lead to 30-24 in the fourth quarter.
But when Northwest’s Keirah Potts buried a pair of free throws late in the game, it served as a dagger and put the Mohawks up by eight … a deficit too much for the Oaks to overcome down the stretch.
“I wasn’t happy that it got close late, but I trust these girls and I knew they would finish,” Frantz said. “Oak Hill had to foul and when I saw that they fouled Potts, I sort of relaxed because I knew she was going to hit both shots. She’s been big on the free throw line all season and we trust her in those spots. Even though we didn’t shoot that well, I have confidence in these kids.”
Oak Hill held one lead in the entire game, which was a 6-5 tally midway through the first quarter after 3’s from Caitlyn Brisker and Peyton Miller.
From that point, it was all about Northwest after Ava Jenkins hit two free throws, followed by a Potts jumper to put the Mohawks ahead for good.
Despite not putting on its best offensive performance in the second quarter, it didn’t matter to Northwest because it was all about the defense.
The Mohawks blocked four shots during the eight-minute stretch and held Oak Hill scoreless as they took a 19-8 lead into the break.
“Oak Hill is not an easy team to stop or keep down,” Frantz said. “Caitlyn Brisker is an elite talent, Peyton can shoot lights out if you give her space, Olivia Clarkson battles on every possession, and the list goes on and on. Our help defense and communication was really good. We wanted to keep the ball out of Caitlyn and Peyton’s hands all night, and we did a pretty good job of that.”
The Mohawks maintained their double-digit lead all the way through the third quarter while Oak Hill continued to struggle from the floor.
And by the time the Oaks got a couple shots to fall, the hole they had dug themselves was just too deep to dig out of.
“Honestly, I’ve been here 32 years and I can’t remember any team starting as well as we have,” Frantz said. “I’ve enjoyed coaching this group of girls as much as any team ever and we’re working together. There’s no jealousy, which is a huge thing. We’re an experienced team, but still a little young and we’re growing every day. But there’s still a ways to go if we want to complete our goal of winning the SOC.”
Potts and Valerie Copas each finished with eight points for Northwest, while Potts pulled down eight rebounds. Haidyn Wamsley had seven points and 10 rebounds, Kloe Montgomery added seven points and nine rebounds, and Jenkins had six points.
Brisker was the only player to finish in double-digit scoring figures with 15 points, while Chloe Chambers had five points and 14 rebounds for Oak Hill.
Northwest returns to the court on Saturday at home against West Union while Oak Hill hosts Minford on Monday in SOC II action.
Oak Hill: 8-0-7-15 — 30
Northwest: 11-8-9-8 — 36
Oak Hill: 10-54 FG, 3-12 FT, 4-20 3pt., 23 rebounds (Chambers 14), 8 turnovers, 3 assists. Scoring: Brisker 15, Chambers 5, Clarkson 5, Miller 3, Brooke Howard 2.
Northwest: 12-45 FG, 10-16 FT, 1-7 3pt., 35 rebounds (Wamsley 10), 18 turnovers, 7 assists (Wamsley 3). Scoring: Potts 8, Copas 8, Wamsley 7, Montgomery 7, Jenkins 6.