Craig’s 31 lifts VikingsPublished 12:09am Saturday, December 10, 2011
Senior guard Maureen Craig scored a career-high 31 points to lead Niles to a 66-57 girls’ basketball win over visiting Benton Harbor.
The win squared the Vikings’ record at 2-2 and its Big 16 Conference West Division mark at 1-1.
The Vikings got off to a great start, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to grab a 6-0 lead.
Craig hit the first of her seven triples just 18 seconds into the contest and Alexis Arnold followed it up with her own trey just under a minute later to make 6-0.
After a free throw got the Tigers on the board, freshman Kalabrya Gondrezick cut the lead to 6-3, but failed to complete the three-point play.
Benton Harbor (0-2, 0-2 West) kept chipping away at the Vikings’ advantage and finally took a 9-8 lead on a rebound basket by Toshima Hall with 3:42 left in the opening quarter.
Niles would lead again at 10-9 on a back door cut and score by Taylor Brandstatter with just under three minutes to play.
But the Tigers would score six of the last eight points of the first quarter to lead 15-12 at the break. The final bucket came at the buzzer by Ashley Lewis.
The Vikings would outscore the Tigers 17-7 in the second quarter to reclaim the lead at halftime.
A Craig 3-pointer cut the Benton Harbor lead to 17-16 early in the period and a free throw by Brooke Wilson knotted the score at 17-17.
Michelle Briand gave Niles the lead with 5:10 left in the first half on a put-back before a basket by Arnold with 4:01 showing on the clock increased Niles’ lead to 21-17.
Craig and Arnold would connect from long-range again in the final three and a half minutes as the Vikings took a 29-22 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Niles was able to maintain a lead throughout the third quarter despite the Tigers making a couple of runs.
Craig scored the first five points of the period for the Vikings, including another 3-pointer, as Niles opened up a 34-24 lead just moments into the third.
Benton Harbor would cut the lead to 36-34 on a basket by Hull, but Niles would have the answer.
A free throw and a basket by Taylor Brandstatter gave the Vikings back their six-point advantage (39-33) with 3:24 left in the quarter.
Again the Tigers made a run at Niles. This time they cut the lead to 41-37 on a bucket by Gondrezick with 1:22 to go on the period.
Craig would keep Benton Harbor at bay with a pair of treys in the final 53 seconds as the Vikings took a 47-39 lead into the final quarter.
Niles continued to play well and take care of the basketball, while running time off the clock during the fourth quarter.
“What leadership she showed tonight,” Niles coach Patrick Touhey said. “They gave her opportunities to score and she took full advantage of them. More than that, Mo had to have the ball in her hands down at the end when we could have easily got flustered. As a senior and a leader she calmed the troops down. I think Mo played a key role in us keeping our composure.”
Craig also had seven rebounds and dished out five assists.
Brandstatter finished with 12 points and three rebounds, while Arnold chipped in with eight points and three assists. Briand had seven points and 13 rebounds for the Vikings.
“Michelle was a beast,” Touhey said. “She was so strong. She boxed out. I think there were times where she boxed two people out at once and she did go after the basketball hard.”
Gondrezick led Benton Harbor with 20 points. No other Tiger reached double figures. Lewis finished with eight points.
BENTON HARBOR 57
Kalabrya Gondrezick 7 6-7 20; Eulaisha Ellis 1 0-0 2; Nashaye Sutton 2 2-8 6; Na’eisha Dudley 0-0 0; Dennee Brown 1 2-4 4; Jasmine Dortch 0 0-0 0; Toshima Hull 8 1-2 17; Ashley Lewis 4 0-0 8. TOTALS: 23 11-21 57
Taylor Brandstatter 4 2-4 12; Alexis Arnold 3 0-0 8; Kylee Myer 0 2-2 2; Brooke Wilson 0 3-7 3; Anna Sikkink 1 1-2 3; Michelle Briand 2 3-4 7. TOTALS: 19 19-29 66
BENTON HARBOR 15 22 39 57
Niles 12 29 47 66
3-point baskets: Benton Harbor 0, Niles 9 (Arnold 2, Craig 7). Total fouls (fouled out): Benton Harbor 20 (none), Niles 19 (none). Varsity records: Benton Harbor 0-2, 0-2 West; Niles 2-2, 1-1 West