Northridge came out the victor in this one, 40-28.
The Knights came out on fire and took control early. Six seconds into the game, Knight center Amanda Gardner sprinted down the court, established position in the post, got the ball, and banked in a layup. Before a full minute had ticked off the clock, Knight forward Katie Manningley twice stripped the Vikings ball handler and raced down court for layups, the second of which she was fouled and converted a three point play the old-fashioned way.
From there, the Viking defense settled in and only allowed the Knights to score six more points the rest of the quarter. The strategy of jamming the middle and denying entry passes to the post were successful. The tactic also worked in forcing six Knight turnovers.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, the Northridge defense was just as formidable. The Knights used a fierce 2-3 pressure zone to attack the Viking ball-handlers before they could establish any offensive rhythm. The Knights forced eight turnovers to keep the Vikings at bay. The only points the Vikings were able to put on the board in the first quarter were on a pair of free-throws by reserve center Tyler McFarland.
“We started off slow.” said Viking Coach Melissa Fox, “That was a big key in this game.”
The game was hard fought the rest of the way, but the Vikings could never quite chip the lead all the way down.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Viking center Amy Black converted two free throws and dropped in a bucket to cut the lead to 28-19 .
“After the slow start,” said Fox, “I thought we really played well, a few things we could have done better, but we played them tough.”
Later in the final period, McFarland made another free throw to again draw the Vikings to within nine at 33-24. The Viking bench was alive and looking to make a final push.
The Knights called a timeout to regroup and it worked. Right out of the timeout, Knight forward Candice Clifford scored and was fouled and the Knights went on to the victory.
Manningley led the Knights with 11 points. Viewmont Guard Leah Ellertson had 11 for the Vikes.
The win improves the Knights to 2-7 overall and, more importantly, 1-1 in what is shaping up to be a tough Region 1.
The Vikings drop to 0-7 overall and 0-2 in region play. A chance to bounce back for the Vikings will be tomorrow night as they head up north to take on the Falcons of Clearfield.
Meanwhile, the Knights will head up to Plain City to take on the Fremont Silverwolves.