What you look for early in the season is far different than what you look for later on in the year. That was significantly apparent on Tuesday night as host Snider and Huntington North each opened their 2021-22 season.
It was a great test for both. While, beforehand, it seemed like it was more of a test for the Vikings, the range of styles that each teams played made it important for the foundation of each team.
That foundation was more important than the final score, which ended 45-42 in Huntington North’s favor on a buzzer beater.
Before we get into what made the whole game special for both teams, Bounce would be remiss to start anywhere but the finish. The Vikings got a timeout with 1.2 seconds left and coach Matt Hinds drew up a beauty of a play in a tie game. Taylor Double came off a pair of screens across the foul line, curled to the corner right in front of her own bench and buried a three pointer for the win. Great play, great moment. But I really do feel like there was a bigger message for both teams on Tuesday.
While it started predictably: Snider in a full court man pressure and Huntington North back in a 2-3 zone, it wasn’t just the defensive battle that we expected. Yes, both teams found great success in their own defense with Snider overpowering the Vikings often and Huntington North forcing the Panthers into overplaying and making mistakes with their midlevel pacing. But it was also a great chance to see the offenses find somewhat surprising success against the high quality defenses.
Huntington North was also willing to go to man to man in the game, which was surprising and still somewhat successful. Snider too changed things up midway through the second quarter, going into a trapping 3-2 zone that found its own successes and failures.
All of the changes in style and pace during the game were important to the bigger picture: both teams are going to contend for their respective conference titles.
With 5.1 seconds left in the first quarter, Snider ended what seemed like a stalemate with a Jyah LoVett and-one that extended the Panther’s lead to 11-6. LoVett was one of Snider’s great revelations on this night. The California transfer was great at getting to the rim and drawing contact. At the half, Snider had looked like they were starting to hold control again, but the Vikings pushed back.
Early in the third quarter, Molly Daugherty hit a three pointer to tie the game at 19 and it made both teams ramp up their defenses even more. While the score stayed low, as the Vikings always like it, there was nothing short of high intensity basketball. Taylor Double hit a three pointer to give Huntington North the lead 22-21 with 5:47 left in the third but again, it was Snider getting an offensive board and getting to the foul line on the next trip that pushed Snider back ahead on the hands of Joh’nea Donahue.
Double tripled it back to reach 17 points of her own on the next possession. Then Poole hit a three back. It was a lot of battling back and forth that kept each time on the edge of their proverbial seats.
Another great revelation for Snider on this night was Samantha Kabisch. With a vacancy recently left on the interior for Snider, Kabisch has been forced into a bigger role and she shined with it on Tuesday night. When she registered her fourth block late in the third quarter, it led to a leak out pass ahead to Donahue that pushed Snider back up by three. Kabisch was a great interior presence for Snider and really helped protect the rim, especially against Huntington North’s dribble drive when finding holes in the 3-2 zone.
On the other end, it was the freshman Daugherty that was a revelation for Huntington North. As good as Double is and everyone knows it, the thing for the Vikings is that they need a consistent number two threat. That looks like it could be Daugherty, a long presence that can be a rim protecter, a rim runner and also a deep ball threat. Her third three of the game and a Double and-one gave the Vikings their biggest lead of the game, 32-28, late in the third quarter.
Huntington North led 32-31 after three.
Jordyn Poole, who struggled to get her shot to fall in the first half, even on good moves and good looks, was huge late for Snider. It shows the maturity that Poole has developed now as a sophomore to not let a bad first half hurt her.
With under a minute to play, Grace Sell was wide open under the basket on an imbounds play to give the Vikings a 42-41 lead. Destini Craig was able to tie the game at the free throw line before Double put it to bed, finishing with a game high 23 points.
It was a fun way to start the season for Bounce and an informative way to start the season for both of these teams.
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