The South Nodaway girls basketball team was able to end the Platte Valley Invitational with a trophy after it overcame early-game jitters to beat Osborn 35-29 in the third-place game on Friday in Bearcat Arena.
Playing in the larger gymnasium seemed to hamper both teams’ shooting early on as the Longhorns didn’t score until nearly six minutes into the game when senior Liz Turpin connected. Fortunately, the Wildcat offense was also struggling against the Longhorn defense and South Nodaway ended the first quarter with a 4-2 lead.
“We really haven’t come out of the gate and started a game fast all season yet,” South Nodaway coach Aaron Murphy said. “I don’t think it was nerves or anything, I think we are just trying to figure out what team we are. We are still developing offensively and defensively.”
South Nodaway senior Alex Buckles finished the second half with four straight points to extend the Longhorn lead to 13-7 at halftime.
The lead grew to double-figures at 22-11 in the third quarter when sophomore post player Miya Wiederholt began to take over for South Nodaway. Wiederholt had seven of her team-high nine points in the third quarter.
“She has been our most consistent offensive weapon,” Murphy said. “She is going to get her points in. It may not always look the best, but you know she can find a way to get the ball in the hoop.”
Turpin picked up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter and Murphy was forced to put one of his senior captains on the bench.
“She is a captain and a four-year starter,” Murphy said. “Her experience calms the nerves of some of the more inexperienced girls. She is a huge asset for us to have on the floor.”
Osborn went on a quick 7-0 run to close the gap to just four points.
The lead was 24-20 early in the fourth when Murphy went back with Turpin. She rewarded his trust in her not to pick up another foul by quickly converting on a steal and an and-one to extend the lead to 27-20.
“Trust is it,” Murphy said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to coach her for three years now and I know she understands the game. She knew that if she played careless, she was going to have to sit for the rest of the game and watch her teammates battle. She is a competitor and I knew she’d be smart.”
The Wildcats were eventually able to trim the lead to 29-26 in the closing minute, but in the final 33 seconds of the game, sophomore Kaylin LaMaster went 4-of-6 from the foul line and Buckles was 2-for-2.
“There is a lot of confidence in Kaylin whenever she is up there at the free throw line,” Murphy said. “She hit some big, big free throws in some big games last year for us.”
In addition to Wiederholt’s nine points, Turpin had eight, sophomore Alyson Jones had seven and LaMaster had six.
South Nodaway and Osborn will have a rematch on Tuesday night in Osborn.