Girls basketball: Noll fights off Whiting rally in GSSC final
By John O’Malley Post-Tribune correspondent January 19, 2013 9:46PM
Updated: February 21, 2013 7:00AM
GARY — Bishop Noll never flinched — not even when Whiting managed to cut the Warriors’ 16-point second-quarter lead to a single point early in the final period.
As a result, for the second time in a week, the Warriors (17-1) defeated the Oilers (16-3) and captured their first Greater South Shore Conference title with a 56-52 win Saturday at Calumet.
“As a freshman, it feels so good to be able to win a game like this,” Noll guard Naomi House said. “I’ve never played in a game this big that meant so much in front of all of these fans.
“It’s great for our team because it’s been a decade since we beat a really good team like Whiting. We showed what were made of and proved that we’re the better team — not to be cocky or anything but we believed we could beat them again. Our defense was the key to this win.”
House drained four 3-point baskets and scored a team-high 16 points — eight in the opening quarter when Noll opened up a 21-7 lead. She added five crucial points in the fourth period, including a huge trey with 2:22 left, giving the Warriors a 50-43 lead.
Noll drained 6-of-9 free throws in the final quarter to hold off the pesky Oilers and capture the tournament trophy and cut down the nets.
“She’s a great athlete who has a good eye for the floor and she’s very unselfish,” Noll coach Vanita Gary said. “Being a freshman, we’re always trying to reinforce with her not to second-guess herself. We tell her to trust her instincts and the gameplan.”
Brenda Pennington, another first-year guard, scored 13 points and snared eight rebounds, while junior forward Asya Hobbs scored eight and did a good job limiting Whiting’s Brianna Blackwell to only eight total points — all in the second half.
Abby Bondi swished five 3-point baskets and scored a game-high 23 points to lead Whiting, while Citali Lopez scored 10 of her 17 points in the second half, including eight in the third period.
“You can’t get down to a good team like that (21-7) and expect to win,” Whiting coach Kevin Moynihan said. “You have to play four quarters of basketball at this level, but we didn’t fold. Our kids battled back and fought the rest of the game. They believed they could come back and still win.”
Whiting sliced Noll’s lead to 37-36 on a running bank shot by Blackwell early in the final period, but the Oilers never got closer.
“Winning the (GSSC) title means a lot,” Gary said. “It’s exciting. My heart’s still racing. It’s steps in the right direction for our
program. It means all our hard work is paying off.”
The two teams could very well meet a third time in the Class 2A Sectional, which would be even more intriguing.