Northwestern pulls together, gets past pesky Immaculate in Class M
WINSTED - Northwestern needed someone to step up down the stretch Tuesday night in its Class M first-round matchup with Immaculate. Luckily for the Highlanders virtually the entire team answered the call.
Emma Beltrandi scored 16 points and Rasa Hamel added 15, including a pair of clutch free throws with 10 seconds to go to lift the 14th-seeded Highlanders to a 45-42 victory over the No. 19 Mustangs on Tuesday night.
The Highlanders (16-7) move on to face No. 3 Haddam-Killingworth in the second round Friday night while the Mustangs' season ends with a 12-9 record.
"We played together and I thought the kids played within themselves," Northwestern coach Fred Williams said. "If we do that we can be successful."
Coming out of the rugged SWC, Immaculate (12-9) wasn't intimidated and went right at Northwestern. The Mustangs had an early 7-2 lead but the Highlanders battled back and were up 21-20 at the half. The game was tied, 30-30, entering the fourth quarter and that's when Northwestern really pulled together.
"We were nervous at first and we knew they were quick," Hamel said. "We started to pull together at the end. There were a few times when I was thinking that we had to catch up but we pulled it out in the end."
In the end it was a total team effort that made the difference. The Highlanders took the lead for good, 40-38, on a pair of free throws by Beltrandi with 2:37 to go. The Highlanders got the ball back after Liz Newkirk got on the floor to force a jump ball and a free throw by Hamel on the ensuing possession made it 41-38 with two minutes to play.
Newkirk made a pair of baskets in the fourth and made a handul of other key plays on defense while Kathleen Wysocki scored on a layup off a nice give-and-go with Arielle Oemcke to put Northwestern up 43-40 with 46 seconds left.
Danielle Cerrone (14 points) scored on a drive to cut the Highlanders' lead to 43-42 with 32 seconds on the clock and Northwestern ran the clock down to 10 seconds before Hamel, a first-team All-Berkshire League player, was fouled. The senior calmly sank two free throws and Cerrone came down and missed a three and the putback was no good before the horn sounded.
"Rasa was able to do a little bit of everything for us, she really can play all five positions and Emma has been playing her best basketball of the season and really improving her game over the last few weeks, when we really need it," Williams said.
Immaculate 7-13-10-12 - 42
Northwestern 6-15-9-15 - 45
Immaculate (42) - Danielle Cerrone 5 4-5 14; Kathryn Kerins 1 0-0 2; Jena Mazzucco 4 5-6 13; Amanda Loya 1 0-0 2; Jaclyn Daily 4 0-2 8; Taylor Guth 1 0-0 3. Totals 16 9-13 42.
Northwestern (45) - Rasa Hamel 6 3-4 15; Kathleen Wysocki 1 1-2 3; Liz Newkirk 3 0-0 6; Emma Beltrandi 6 4-5 16; Arielle Oemcke 2 1-1 5. Totals 18 9-12 45.