WESTFIELD — In the first half, it looked like the Cowanesque Valley Lady Indians (11-11) had the secret formula for beating the top team in the NTL in the Northeast Bradford Lady Panthers (18-3), and went into halftime with a 20-18 lead after Paisley Nudd hit a deep two-pointer with only five seconds remaining in the half to give the Lady Indians a lead after two quarters of play.
The Lady Indians were unable to contain the Northeast Bradford Lady Panthers in the second half though, and after allowing 34 second half points, fell by a score of 52-41.
During the first half, the Lady Indians defense stole the show and after falling behind from the back-to-back three-pointers from the Lady Panthers, they used a full-court press defense to create a number of opportunities that allowed them to get themselves back in the game.
After falling behind 6-1, the Lady Indians scored seven unanswered points to push the lead to 8-6. Kailey Wells hit a big three-ball during the run, and the Indians were right back in the thick of things.
Northeast Bradford lived and died by the three-pointer in the first half, and after hitting two more to end the quarter and push the score to 12-9 heading into the second.
The Lady Indians got the first bucket of the quarter to close the gap to just one at 12-11, but the next two minutes of basketball was a stalemate, with neither team finding the nylon over the stretch.
After a defensive stretch by both teams, Makayla Vargeson knocked down a free-throw to end the scoring drought and tie things up at 12 each.
The Lady Indians went on a small 8-2 run, and were able to stretch their lead out to 17-14. The run ate up about half of the second quarter.
The Lady Panthers were able to strike back, and scored four unanswered points and with only a little over a minute left in the half, Northeast found themselves up 18-17.
After a made Cowanesque free-throw, the game was tied and it looked like the Lady Indians might just take the tie into halftime and regroup, but with just five seconds left Nudd pulled up from 17 feet to knock down the go-ahead basket and rode into halftime looking poised to complete the upset.
In the second half, the Lady Panthers rallied back, and doubled their halftime score in the frame thanks to a big quarter where they scored 18 points with six different players contributing baskets.
The Lady Indians stayed alive, and Kaitlyn Streeter knocked down two three-pointers in the frame to keep her team afloat, with the Lady Panthers entering the fourth with a 36-32 advantage.
Unfortunately for the Lady Indians, they couldn’t keep the Northeast team at bay for another quarter, and were outscored by the Lady Panthers 16-9 in the fourth, and dropped their eleventh game of the season, 52-41.
The Lady Indians put together a very respectable performance, and had seven players score during the game, in one of their most balanced approaches of the season.
Vargeson led the way for the Indians and scored 13 points and hit a three-pointer in the fourth when her team was attempting to rally. Streeter scored eight points and Nudd scored seven including a clutch three-pointer at the end of the half that gave the Indians a halftime lead.
The Lady Indians next contest was extremely important, and with a win over North Penn-Liberty (2-19) would clinch their spot in the district playoffs.
The Lady Indians put together a gritty performance and won by a score of 56-18.
The Lady Indians used a 14-0 first quarter to give themselves a lofty cushion, and were able to keep pouring it on until the final buzzer as they amassed their third highest scoring total of the year with 56 points.
The Lady Indians were led by a stellar three-point shooting performance by Nudd, who connected on a game-high four deep-balls and scored a game-high 17 points in the win.
Wells also had the hot-hand for the Lady Indians, as she scored 12 points and hit on two three-pointers.
Ackley also scored in double-figures with 10 points for the Lady Indians. With the win, the Lady Indians move to 11-11 on the season, and the final spot in the district playoffs.
They will need to continue to feature a balanced scoring attack if they want to cause some damage in postseason play.