North Union Lady Cats’ tourney loss goes right down to the wire


Abbey Price, of North Union, leaps for a shot with a Johnstown-Monroe defender in tow during the Lady Cats opening round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III tournament. Price tallied 15 points during the 49-48 loss. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)

Saturday’s girls Division III sectional basketball game at North Union was no surprise for the eighth- seeded Lady Cats.
The back-and-forth battle with 11th seeded Johnstown-Monroe was a familiar contest.
The Lady Cats have lived in single-possession scenarios all season and sometimes you end up on the losing side.
NU’s tournament opener was one of those scenarios as their season came to an end by a score of 49-48.
Coach Bre Nauman said those are the type of games that will stick with her young players through the offseason.
“This was a learning experience above all,” she said. “They were crying in the locker room, but I told them to remember what this feels like next season if you don’t want to end up here again.”
It all started with the Jonnies taking an early 6-0 lead.
North Union’s Abby Price answered with five points on a pair of layups and a toss from the charity stripe.
The two teams matched each other point-for-point through the second portion of the opening eight minutes. That led to an 11-11 stalemate at the end of the set.
The Lady Cats took their first lead during the start of the second quarter.
Aubrey Benedict drove to the low post for a layup to push the Cats out front, 13-11. Johnstown answered with an eight-point run ( and led 19-13) thanks to a threep pointer from its top scorer Abby Adkins, who tallied 21 points for the game.
NU shifted the momentum its way, chipping away at the six-point deficit.
Price came up with a steal at the top of the Jonnies’ arc for a breakaway layup that tied the game at 19-19.
Johnstown, though, took a 23-21 lead at the half.
The back-and- forth contest continued in the third quarter.
Price worked her way down the lane for six points, while Benedict and Jordyn Hoffman both added a bucket.
NU’s defense was enough to keep the Jonnies shooters in check and take a 31-30 lead by the end of the third quarter.
Nauman said defense was something her team really lacked in the early part of the campaign.
“The second half of the year, we had a huge defensive turn-around,” she said. “They realized that we have to play strong defense to spark our offense.”
The two teams kept the game deadlocked through the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.
Benedict hit a layup that gave NU a 40-38 edge.
Jada Davis stretched that lead to 42-48 with a short jump shot.
The Jonnies’ Adkins answered with a three-pointer to pull with in 42-41.
Nauman said her team’s defense started to slip in the final quarter.
“In the first half, it showed that we caused some headaches for them by not giving them any clean looks,” she said. “However, it started to dwindle in the second half.”
Hoffman answered with her only three of the game to stretch NU’s lead to 45-41 with less than two minutes remaining.
Davis extended the Lady Cat’s margin to 48-43 with a traditional three-point play, leaving 38 seconds on the clock.
The Jonnies picked up two points from the free-throw line to put the score at 48-45 with 15 seconds left.
The Lady Cats mismanaged the ball, leading to the turnover. Johnstown took a time out to set up a play to tie the game.
Nauman said during the break she knew they were going to go to Adkins.
“We knew they were going to try and get the ball to their shooter (Adkins) the ball,” she said. “We talked about getting around the ball screen, but that is a tough shot. If it didn’t go in, then she is trying to earn it from the free throw line.”
The exact scenario played out on the inbound pass.
Adkins was able to get her three-point shot off and draw a foul. The trey tied the game at 48-all.
Adkins converted her shot at the line to give Johnstown a 49-48 lead.
The Lady Cats got off a last second shot off, but couldn’t convert the last ditch chance.
“That is what basketball is,” Nauman said. “It’s not the outcome we wanted, but we were able to get down the court and get a shot off at the end.
We just ran out of time.”
The Lady Cats ended their season with an 11-11 record.
Adkins 6-5-21, Wagner 4-4-12, Barb 3-0-6, Tripett 2-1-5, Townsend 1-1-3, Perfors 1-0-2. Totals: 17-11-49.
Three-point goals: Adkins 4
North Union
Price 6-3-15, Benedict 7-1-15, Hoffman 4-0-9, Davis 2-1-5, Parish 0-2-2, Moran 1-0-2. Totals: 20-7-48.
Three-point goals: Hoffman 1

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