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Stunning rally pushes Nonnewaug past Northwestern

POSTED January 14, 2020
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                WOODBURY – I mean you really can’t make this stuff up.

                Nonnewaug was deader than the squirrel that can’t decide which way to go and ends up one with the tire and the pavement. Down 10 points with five minutes to go with a total of 22 points and having not scored in almost five minutes clearly seemed to support the suggestion that there was indeed a force field preventing the bottom of the net from being reached. Did we mention the Chiefs would shot 19 percent for the evening.

                No hope. Yeah, right. Geez, don’t we ever learn. By the time that final 300 seconds had gone by, the Chiefs were looking at a 36-32 victory over Northwestern Regional Tuesday night, having scored the final 14 points of the game while shutting the Highlanders out in the final quarter and final 9:08.

                “It was just all about mind set,” said Nonnewaug’s Ashley Hennessey who sank a gargantuan three-pointer to decide the game. “We wanted to win and we were very aggressive and worked hard on defense. Offense was hard but we found the right people and took our time.”

                The victory in the battle of the unbeaten puts Nonnewaug in the Berkshire League front runner position with a 6-0 mark (8-0 overall) while Northwestern is right behind with a 5-1 mark (8-1 overall).

                Unlikely and improbable comeback?  Sure. Impossible. Obviously not. It was a comeback born as much from Northwestern’s collapse as Nonnewaug’s grit. The Highlanders just fell apart. Seven turnovers, four missed foul shots and four missed shots. No answers.

                Meanwhile Nonnewaug crawled back. Abigail Scheurich scored off an offensive rebound to cut the deficit to eight and two Highlanders turnovers later, Samantha Conti hit a pair of foul shots to make it 32-26 with 2:53 to go. She then stole the inbounds pass and scored to make it a four-point game.

                Northwestern’s Skylar DiMartino (12 points) missed the front end of a one-and-one and Hennessey hit a free throw to bring it to, 32-29. Again DiMartino missed the front end of a one-and-one and again Hennessey responded at the other end with a pair from the line to make it a one-point game, 32-31, with 1:26 left.

                The woes at the foul line continued for the Highlanders as Natalie Brodnitzki was off base on a pair from the line, setting up Hennessey for the biggest moment of the game. With 50 seconds left she drained a three-pointer from the wing to put Nonnewaug ahead, 34-32, and giving her six points in a two-minute span.

                “It was an open shot and you have to take it when it is open,” said Hennessey. “Thankfully I made it.”

                After a Highlander turnover, Conti canned a foul shot. Northwestern then shot an air-ball with 12 seconds to go and Conti was fouled on the ensuing possession. She made the shot to nail down the win.

                “We got shut out the last period,” said Northwestern coach Fred Williams. “We were horrendous from the foul line, Nonnewaug was more aggressive than us and made shots when they needed to. We didn’t make shots and didn’t handle their pressure well.  They came on and got it done.”

                Nonnewaug coach Adam Brutting talked about his team turning it up a notch.

                “During a timeout we talked about working harder than we had been and putting more pressure on their guards and looking to trap. We got key turnovers and a big put-back (Scheurich).”

                Brutting was not getting involved in the front runner thing.

                “It’s eight games into a 20-game season. One game at a time,” he noted with a smile.

                What the game provided in unpredictability and drama, it lacked in execution. The game was a cornucopia of missed shots and turnovers, neither team finding any flow or rhythm.

                “Both teams worked defensively to make life miserable for offenses.

                Case in point. Nonnewaug shot 1-for-12 with five turnovers in the first quarter which saw Northwestern meander out to an 8-1 lead. The Highlanders caught the turnover bug in the second quarter (9) while still holding a lead, 18-16 at the half.

                Northwestern did manage a 10-2 run in the final four minutes of the third quarter to build up its 10-point lead. DiMartino canned four free throws and Morgan Plitt (11 points) drained the third of her three-pointer to fuel the run.

                In the end, artistic value be darned. A great win for the Chiefs. A loss that will sting for the Highlanders.      

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