The Heights girls were tested down the stretch Friday night, something it hasn’t experienced from many City League opponents.
Northwest cut Heights’ lead, which was as big as 15 to start the fourth quarter, to four points with more than two minutes left.
Heights responded and outscored Northwest 9-2 the rest of the way in a 62-51 victory.
“Survive and advance,” Heights coach Kip Pulliam said. “We were half a step away from everything and they were knocking down all their shots. We weren’t doing the things we needed to do until the end and did it well enough to win a game.”
No. 2-ranked Heights (17-1, 14-0 CL), was led by Jhasmin Bowen (21 points) and Tahlia Pope (19). The Falcons can clinch the league title with a win over second-place Bishop Carroll on Tuesday.
Northwest’s Brianna Caldwell, who scored 13 points, almost brought the Grizzlies back.
Caldwell hit a three-pointer and made a steal that led to a Mac Millspaugh basket, trimming the lead to 53-49.
Caldwell had a chance to cut the deficit even more, but missed the front end of a one and one after another steal.
Heights made 5 of 8 free throws and Bowen — who was offered a scholarship by Louisville coach Jeff Walz after the game — scored four points in the final two minutes as the Falcons held on.
“It’s really good for them, they’ve been in games that the last two quarters didn’t make a difference,” Pulliam said, “so here they had to stay focused and they didn’t do a great job of that but you learn and move on.”
Heights struggled from the free-throw line (16 of 39), but it countered with offensive rebounds following misses.
Heights scored 13 points on offensive rebounds after free-throw misses. Bowen scored five of those.“I just wait for the ball to hit the rim and attack the basket,” Bowen said. “I just try to go up strong and jump as high as I can.”
Northwest coach Jim Mernagh said the Grizzlies couldn’t overcome that many offensive rebounds.
“We were right there, within a couple possessions and kind of panicked,” Mernagh said. “That killed us, though. We worked on it, too. We got to do a better job of getting a body on them. But I’m proud of my girls for battling.”
Heights made two big runs. The first, a 10-2 run in the first quarter, put the Falcons ahead 14-5. Kamisha Richard scored six during the stretch.
The second big run, a 10-3 run in the second quarter, put Heights ahead 28-15.
Although Pulliam would rather not have to put another run on late, it was good for the Falcons to get this test.
“Tight games, we don’t get a lot of them,” Pulliam said. “So it’s nice to have them and nice to pull them out at the end to win some games.”
Heights (17-1, 14-0) 16 17 12 17 — 62
Northwest (13-6, 10-5) 7 11 12 21 — 51
HEIGHTS: Bowen 7 7-13 21, Pope 7 4-8 19, Richard 3 4-8 10, Chandler 2 0-2 4, Sims 1 1-6 4, Chisom 2 0-0 4, Ivy 0 0-2 0. Totals 22 (2) 16-39 62.
NORTHWEST: Caldwell 4 2-3 13, Shine 5 1-1 11, Simon 4 1-2 11, M. Millspaugh 3 0-0 6, A. Millspaugh 2 0-0 5, Nolen 1 1-2 3, McAlpine 1 0-0 2, Loganbill 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 (6) 5-10 51.