College Sports

Heights girls hold off Grizzlies

Heights girls beat Northwest 67-53 at Heights High School Tuesday. (Feb. 15, 2011)
Heights girls beat Northwest 67-53 at Heights High School Tuesday. (Feb. 15, 2011) The Wichita Eagle

The last time the Heights and Northwest girls played each other, the Falcons were 47 points better.

Two months have passed since that meeting, and Northwest showed its improvement in the rematch on Tuesday night at Heights.

Northwest, playing without injured guard T. Nolen, didn't crumble under Heights' pressure. The Grizzlies went blow-for-blow with the state's No. 1 team for three quarters. And to the Grizzlies' credit, they forced Heights to focus for the entire game.

Yet it was still the Falcons coming away with the 67-53 victory.

Northwest (13-4 overall, 11-2 City League)was happy to have made it a game. Heights (17-0, 13-0) was ecstatic to finally be in a close one.

"That was good for us," Heights coach Kip Pulliam said. "We finally got focused there the second half. It was a good test for us. They made us make some plays to keep our lead."

Heights hinted at running away with it before halftime, holding a 30-19 lead.

Where the Grizzlies folded last time, they thrived this time around. They ended the half on a 10-1 run that Pulliam called a "slap in the face" for his Falcons.

"That let us know it was real," said Northwest's Cassidy Harbert, who turned in a stellar performance of 16 points and six rebounds. "We knew it was possible."

After causing 17 turnovers the first half, Heights brought its notorious pressure at Northwest again in the second half. The Grizzlies were ready this time.

"We finally did what we were supposed to do, we found the middle and attacked," Northwest coach Jim Mernagh said. "We didn't fold this time; we responded."

Northwest didn't give in the third quarter, playing Heights even at 15-all.

But slowly, the coveted ballhandling that had kept Northwest in the game wilted away.

Heights forced five turnovers in a 9-0 run for a 57-46 lead in the fourth. The Falcons protected that lead with 10 of 12 free throw shooting the final two minutes.

Heights had four players in double-figures, led by Jhasmin Bowen's 21 points and 13 rebounds. Mary Sims and Taylor Chandler added 11 points each and Tahlia Pope had 10.

"We knew we had to get back to playing Heights basketball," Chandler said. "We just had to re-focus and go to work."

Pulliam said his team will see Northwest again in the state tournament, saying it was a "state tournament-type of game."

Mernagh hopes his team can build off this effort and hopefully fulfill Pulliam's prediction.

"This showed me we have some toughness upstairs," Mernagh said. "We talked about getting to the fourth quarter and seeing what happens. We did, but now we've got to get past the fourth quarter."

NW (13-4, 11-2) 9 20 15 9 — 53 Heights (17-0, 13-0) 16 15 15 21 — 67

NORTHWEST: M. Millspaugh 1 6-6 9, Caldwell 2 9-10 14, Harbert 6 3-5 16, Cotman 0 0-1 0, Shine 2 0-0 4, Loganbill 3 0-0 6, A. Millspaugh 0 0-0 0, Allen 1 2-2 4, Simpkins 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 (3) 20-24 53.

HEIGHTS: Chandler 2 7-11 11, Sims 4 2-3 11, Pope 3 3-5 10, Chisom 1 2-2 4, Jhas. Bowen 9 3-11 21, Palmer 0 0-0 0, Lynch 2 3-4 9, Jhar. Bowen 0 2-2 2, Ivy 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 (4) 21-38 67.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle