O how the Green Ridge Lady Tigers would love to have the first six minutes of Saturday night’s 37th Annual Northwest Tournament championship game against Bunceton back.
Bunceton averaged three shots per possession against Green Ridge in the first quarter, controlled the offensive glass to build a big lead and hung on late to win the title 39-35.
Green Ridge, who lost for the first time to fall to 4-1, not only gave up 12 offensive rebounds in the first quarter; they struggled to make a shot and threw the ball all over the gym.
Bunceton scored three times off the offensive boards to build a 7-1 lead early.
It took Green Ridge more than four minutes to score a basket before sophomore Libby Dove stepped into the passing lane, picked off an errant Bunceton pass and ailed coast to coast for a layup to get Green Ridge within 7-3. Clare Chamberlin hit from the free throw line to get the Lady Tigers close at 7-5.
The taller Lady Dragons led 11-5 at the end of the first quarter.
The flow followed the same pattern over the next three quarters, as Bunceton would build a lead only to see Green Ridge rally to close the gap.
Green Ridge never led but got within one point three times in the fourth quarter.
With 1:38 left, Green Ridge found Hali Niceswanger all by herself streaking down the floor for a layup attempt. However, the long pass to Niceswanger sailed far over her head and out of bounds at the baseline.
It was that kind of night for the Lady Tigers. Mistakes took away many chances for Green Ridge to take the lead.
Bunceton took a 13-5 lead early in the second but baskets by Chamberlin and Ragin Dillon got Green Ridge within 13-9. Bunceton went on a 10-2 run to take a 23-11 lead into the half.
Two baskets by Dillon and one by Chamberlin to start the second half got the Lady Tigers within 23-17. Bunceton drained two straight treys and the lead was back to a dozen at 29-17.
A three-point play and a trey by Chamberlin from the top of the key made it 29-25.
Chamberlin led Green Ridge with a game-high 16 points.
Dillon hit again from the baseline to get the Lady Tigers within two at 29-27.
The top-seeded Lady Dragons led 32-27 after three quarters.
Dove scored to get Green Ridge within 32-31 early in the fourth. Niceswanger rang the bell from the left corner late to get Green Rige within 37-35 and had a chance to tie it but the long pass to a wide-open Niceswanger sailed high and wide.
Bunceton scored at the buzzer on a layup to pad their cushion to four at the end.
Senior Erica Kahle led Bunceton with 11 points.
Dillon had nine and Niceswanger five points for Green Ridge. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.