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Girls basketball: Wheeler holds off Bowman at Hanover tourney

Bowman Academy's RodnikkMcCormick tries get ball from Wheeler's Nicole Skopeljduring thier game WildcWinter Classic Cedar Lake Ind. Thursday December 27

Bowman Academy's Rodnikka McCormick tries to get the ball from Wheeler's Nicole Skopelja during thier game in the Wildcat Winter Classic in Cedar Lake, Ind. Thursday December 27, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 29, 2013 6:41AM



CEDAR LAKE — The wheels were turning quickly in Wheeler coach Dustin Nelson’s head as the first period ended.

“We didn’t want it that fast,” Nelson said. “We knew a 68-point, type game wouldn’t really be in our favor. Bowman did a real nice job of establishing tempo early, but we got it slowed down.”

The Bearcats trailed by seven after eight minutes, rallied to take an 11-point lead in the final period, then held off a late Bowman rally for a 45-41 win in the opening round of the Hanover Central Tournament on Thursday.

The Bearcats (5-5) advanced to Thursday night’s semifinals to face Hanover Central (7-3). The host Wildcats, who clobbered Morton in the first round, 78-53, must play without leading scorer, Blayr Poston, who broke her left hand during practice last Saturday. She’s expected to miss four weeks, but told the Post-Tribune she might return earlier if she’s able to change to a soft cast.

Wheeler, meanwhile, was pleased to survive and advance.

“It’s the first close game we’ve won against a nice team,” Nelson said. “Joshlynn King is a real nice player. She’s very strong physically and is tough around the basket.”

King, however, picked up three early fouls and was forced to sit most of the second period. Wheeler took advantage, outscoring Bowman 16-10 in the quarter to trail 27-26 at halftime.

“Once we slowed the tempo down, things started going more in our favor,” Nelson said. “Early on their little guard (point Diamond Harvey) was killing us.”

In addition to changing up its zones, Bowman (1-7) employed a triangle-and-two defense on Wheeler junior forward Nikole Finch for about half the game.

Finch still finished up with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“We tried to run some of our normal stuff out of that,” Nelson said. “They limited Nikole’s looks, so we knew we needed someone else to step up for us.”

That someone was sophomore guard Allie Stevenson, who finished with nine points, including seven in the pivotal second period.

“Allie was a backup for us last year, but she’s really learning how to manage the game,” Nelson said. “She’s did a nice job for us.”

Another sophomore guard, Shannon Eden, had 10 points. Bowman coach Janora Holmes was disappointed her team couldn’t get rolling offensively the second half.

The Eagles scored only four points in the third and fell behind 36-31.

“We wanted to get a spark going on offense, especially after (King) was sitting out the second quarter,” Holmes said.

King scored a game-high 14 points and had 11 rebounds. She single-handedly brought Bowman back from a 42-31 deficit by scoring eight points in a span of less than four minutes.

The Eagles trailed 44-41 with 28 seconds left, but Finch — who stopped an 8-0 Bowman run with a key bucket with 1:55 left — hit one of two free throws with 18 seconds to go, making it 45-41. It was only the third game King played this season. She missed three games with a strained knee and two for academics.



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