By Dave Pearce
For the majority of Thursday evening’s girls’ basketball game between North Posey and Forest Park, if you had asked Forest Park sharpshooter Ashley Reckelhoff the number on her jersey, she would have been torn between 10 and 12.
When Coach Marty Niehaus, Mount Vernon High School’s all-time leading scorer, picked numbers for the team, Reckelhoff was assigned the number 10. But once the ball was tipped off and play began, every time she looked any direction, a number 12 was in her way.
No. 12 is the number worn by North Posey High School senior all-around player Hannah Harness. Reckelhoff got 17 on the Lady Vikings but not a one of them was unearned. And with Harness scoring 20 in the process, it all came down to the rest of the team. And the Vikings were simply better than the Lady Rangers on Thursday evening, winning 43-33.
That win came on the heels of a one-sided 75-31 win over the South Spencer Rebels on Tuesday night and set up, in essence, the Pocket Athletic Conference championship game played on Saturday.
But the Lady Vikings had their struggles early against the Lady Rangers and actually trailed 9-4 at the first quarter break. But with a string of eight wins, North Posey Coach Tracy Stroud has become confident in his team and attributed his team’s early rebounding struggles to their tough defense.
“We were playing such good defense, and the first quarter they were just getting some bounces,” Stroud said of the Lady Rangers. “I thought we were close to the right positions and we knew they would come. We didn’t really have to say anything to them about blocking out or anything. They were shooting a whole bunch of threes and we knew there was going to be some long rebounds. I don’t think we missed block-outs. I think the ball just bounced their way a little there early on.
Reckelhoff opened the game with a 3-pointer from the corner and Harness quickly answered on a rebound bucket. On the next trip down the floor for the Vikings, Harness was fouled on a drive and hit both free throws.
But who would have thought that the Lady Rangers would score the final six points of the first period and take a lead into quarter number two?
But just like at South Spencer earlier in the week when the Vikings outscored the Lady Rebels 26-8 in the second quarter, the Viking offense came alive against the Rangers, as well.
After Heckelhoff scored the first bucket of the second period, Kayla Sanford came up with a loose ball and got it ahead to Kelsey Owen for two points. Hayley Harness was fouled on a shot and hit one of two free throws. Hannah then burned the Lady Rangers from outside for a 3-pointer and when Sanford buried a 3-pointer about half-way through the second quarter, the Lady Vikings had scored nine straight to take a 13-11 lead.
Niehaus called a time out to settle her troops. Neither team could generate much offense the remainder of the quarter as Rachel Ungetheim took the ball strong to the basket and was fouled but failed to convert either of the free throw opportunities.
Sanford then forced the Rangers into a five-second count and Emma Werry was fouled on her way to the bucket and converted both free throws to put the Vikings ahead 15-11.
The Rangers would hit a three before Hannah Harness came up with a steal and was fouled and converted one of two to put the Vikings up 16-13. The Lady Rangers got a deuce just before half to trail by only one at the half.
“She’s a pretty good shooter and she’s going to get some 3-point shots off in a game,” Stroud said of Reckelhoff. “She may go 4-of-7 or she may go 2-of-15.”
Although she led her team with 17 points, Harness said after the game, Reckhoff seemed as if she couldn’t miss.
“It seemed like she made everything she shot tonight,” Harness said. “We better play much better on Saturday against Gibson Southern than we played tonight or it won’t even be close.”
The Lady Vikings must have heeded Harness’s advice.
In a well-played and entertaining Saturday noon-time game, both teams came out of the gate fast, with neither seemingly able to…
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