ELDRIDGE — For a team with no seniors on its roster, North Scott showed some poise in the closing minutes of its season-opening 56-53 win over Iowa City Liberty on Tuesday at The Pit.
The seventh-ranked Lancers held the Lightning without a field goal for the final five minutes of regulation until the visitors made a pair of long-range 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds to close the gap.
“Our energy down the stretch was exactly what we needed,” said Devvin Davis, who is in her first year as the Lancers’ head coach. “Then we finished some free throws to put us up, and I think that was key at the end.”
After a scramble for the basketball led to a steal and a layup for Liberty’s Madeline Casey that trimmed North Scott’s lead to 46-44 with just over five minutes remaining, the Lancers buckled down on the defensive end.
And Cora O’Neill, who left the game with a calf cramp after that same scramble for the ball, came back in and made three key foul shots that pushed the Lancers’ lead to five with 1:21 left.
“Both my legs were kind of twitching a little bit, but I kind of just pushed through,” O’Neill said. “I knew it was crucial because it was close.”
North Scott (1-0) led by eight points after a Hattie Hagedorn free throw with 20.8 seconds remaining, but Liberty’s Bella Tafolla made a pair of long 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds. The last one cut the lead to three with 1.2 seconds on the clock. The final inbound play went to North Scott’s Bailey Boddicker, who didn’t handle it cleanly, but the Lightning couldn’t get off a shot before the final buzzer.
“We’ve been preaching energy and just having that grit in a game, and that’s what they came out and did from minute one,” Davis said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better effort."
Lauren Golinghorst scored a career-high 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Lancers. O’Neill’s 12 points were also a career best, and she contributed seven rebounds. Hagedorn had 10 points.
Jasmine Barney scored a game-high 24 points for the Lightning (1-1) to go along with 10 rebounds and six steals. Ava Meyer scored seven first-quarter points, but missed nearly the entire second quarter with foul trouble and then was limited to three points after halftime.
"We had them kind of scouted out a little bit, but we’ve never seen them and we’ve never played them, so we had to bank on that we were going to get defensive stops. We did our job,” Davis said.
Davis, who spent eight years as the top assistant to T.J. Case before taking over the head job this summer, picked up her first head coaching victory. The Lancers will open Mississippi Athletic Conference play next Tuesday at Davenport North.
“They’re kind of similar coaches,” O’Neill said of Davis and Case. “I’m really proud of her for getting her first win. I love T.J. and Devvin both, but I think it’s going to be a good season.”