Angola takes decisive first step to defending NECC tourney title, beats Fairfield 50-25

It took just over 15 seconds for Angola to bury their first three pointer on Tuesday night in the opening game of the Northeast Corner Conference Tournament. They never looked back.

It was the first step for the Hornet girls in attempting to defend their NECC Tournament title. They will now travel to Garrett tomorrow to continue their quest against the Railroaders. They wouldn’t run into rival Central Noble until the final round on Saturday if both teams make it.

Sarah Duvendack hit the opening shot and the Hornets’ stifling defense held Fairfield scoreless for the first four minutes of the game, leading 11-0 before the Falcons hit the scoreboard. The defensive charge was led by Hanna Knoll, who had tallied four steals out of Angola’s full court press before Fairfield hit a shot.

Angola junior Maizey Strand looks for a pass around Fairfield’s Brooke Sanchez during the first half of January 8’s NECC Tournament game.

“It always good to get a lead quick in case they go on a run. Playing like that defensively early helps us be intimidating from the start,” Knoll said.

After Angola’s game opening basket, the Hornets led a 90 second defensive stand in a man to man defense, not even allowing Fairfield to take a shot. Knoll would end the defensive possession with her first steal. She would do it again the next trip up half of the floor, finding Reace Peppler for the easy layup plus a foul. Peppler’s free throw made it 9-0 Hornets.

Right at the four minute mark of the first quarter, Morgan Sanchez powered to the basket for Fairfield’s first points of the game. Fairfield then looked to be fighting back on the power of their 3-2 zone, making Angola question even their wide open three point looks. But Janna Fee’s three pointer just before the first quarter buzzer made it 17-6 after the first quarter.

Angola’s Reace Peppler looks to a pass during a January 8 contest against Fairfield in the NECC Tournament.

“It is really important. If we can knock things down from the outside, the inside is going to open up and we can penetrate so our offense can really dominate,” Knoll said.

Knoll came out of the game midway through the second quarter with two fouls and six points. It changed the complexion for Angola but not the momentum. They led 23-10 at the half.

The Hornets extended their lead to 34-16 late in the third quarter on a Peppler three that ended somewhat of a drought for both teams. Chloe Dell of Fairfield and Peppler exchanged three pointers in the closing seconds of the third and Angola took a 40-19 lead into the final quarter.

Fairfield was able to get to the basket well in the fourth quarter, but struggled to make the post of their visits to the paint several times. Mackayla Sutsman’s free throw with 5:50 to play brought the game back within 25 points at 45-21 but they Falcons would never get any close than that.

Fairfield’s Morgan Sanchez drives against the defense of Angola’s Reace Peppler during January 8’s NECC Tournament game.

Knoll hit three triples on the game and scored a game high 12 points. Fee (11 points) hit a trio of triples as well and Peppler (11 points) hit two from three point range. Fairfield was led by Morgan Sanchez’s seven points.

“I am confident. I think we have all of the assets that it takes. We just need to get out and play and take it one game at a time.”

The tournament continues tomorrow, January 9 with semi final games then being played Friday and the title game set for Saturday at Lakeland High School. Westview was also a winner Tuesday night on the girls side to earn a trip to unbeaten Central Noble on Wednesday.

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